Amidst the departures that are fast becoming the norm for the Celtics over the past fortnight, there are still some positives to look forward to, when it comes to the most successful franchise in the NBA.
Of course, the loss of Celtics legend Paul Pierce, heart and soul Kevin Garnett, and championship coach Doc Rivers, leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of all Boston fans. It will be hard to see Garnett and Pierce in the colours of the Brooklyn Nets, and we wish them nothing but the best in their pursuit of a second championship – as long as it’s not at the Celtics’ expense.
What many Celtics fans are wondering now is, where do we go from here?
Looking at the remaining players from the 2012/13 version of the Boston Celtics, we are left with a young and promising core of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger, with Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee thrown in for good measure.
With Rajon Rondo as a centerpiece, the Celtics will still be a competitive bunch. The emergence of Jeff Green as a legitmate scoring option will bode well for the Celtics from the small forward position, while the defensive pressure of Avery Bradley and continued improvement of Jared Sullinger suggests a young core going forward that can be built around upon. In addition, the Celtics drafted Kelly Olynyk with pick 13, a PF/C who was described as a good complementary player by Danny Ainge.
Reports about the availability of All-Star point guard Rondo have surfaced in the wake of other senior members’ departures, but Danny Ainge has addressed the rumours twice over the past week, on draft night and at the introduction of our draftees today.
“We have had calls. On Jeff [Green], on Courtney [Lee], on Brandon [Bass], on Rondo, on Jared [Sullinger] and our draft pick, Kelly — there’s been calls for all those guys. And maybe the assumption is we are just changing everybody. But we’re not. We’re starting to get younger.”
Ainge stressed that the team’s current plans include Rondo, despite the fact that his name bubbled up this weekend with the Dallas Mavericks potentially being interested in his services.
“Don’t believe everything you read, especially on Twitter,” Ainge quipped.
“I always listen to calls and listen to what ideas are, but we have no intentions of moving Rajon,” he said.
The biggest get in this trade for Boston could be a player they traded on draft night two yeas ago - MarShon Brooks. A shooting guard who knows how to score in a variety of ways, Brooks could ease the concerns surrounding Boston’s ability to put up big numbers with the departures of Pierce and Garnett.
Gerald Wallace has a massive 3 years and $30 million left on his contract, but he can be a defensive pest with his length and rebounding ability and could be a handy addition if the Celtics intend to keep him. However, his post-season struggles on the offensive end were well-documented, so it will be interesting to see if the Celtics keep him, or even use their amnesty provision on him.
Kris Humphries may not be a member of the team for long, as Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweeted this a few days ago:
Keep an eye on Charlotte as a possible landing spot for Kris Humphries. Rival execs skeptical he stays in Boston.
After the Christmas Day scuffle between Rondo and Humphries, I’m sure this isn’t a total surprise. Humphries could very well bring a nice player back in return if he is moved.
The biggest positive of the Boston-Brooklyn trade is the amount of assets Ainge has received. With unprotected first round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, the ability to trade or draft excellent talent will hold the Celtics in good stead over the next few years. While C’s fans all over wished for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett finish their careers in green, Ainge has acquired pieces for the future, for two players that might have only one or two more seasons left in them. This follows from what Ainge has reiterated over the past few seasons; he didn’t want to make the same mistake as Red Auerbach when he didn’t trade McHale and Bird for assets in their later years.
And just to ease the minds of those worried about a very long season, Ainge also had this to say (via Gary Washburn):
Danny Ainge to Globe: “We are not tanking. Thats ridiculous. This is the Boston Celtics.” #celtics
In the mean time, big changes are afoot. A roster clean-up when the Boston-Brooklyn blockbuster trade goes through on the 12th of July, free agency signings, finding a coach, and more possible trades? We are set for an interesting summer that has really only just begun in the rebuild of this storied franchise. Rumours linking Rondo’s high school friend Josh Smith, and overseas player Gigi Datome mean the 2013/14 Celtics could be in the mould of a young, but exciting team. Unfortunately it will be without Dwight Howard, after Ainge put in a courtesy call about a sign-and-trade that was rejected by the Lakers.
While there is so much unknown between now and the new season, the 2012/13 versions of the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors proved that the right mix of youth, confidence and hustle can result in an unexpected playoff berth sooner than expected. Perhaps the Celtics can aim for the same sort of return next season.
Let us know how you think the team (in its current state) will perform next season by sounding off in the comments section below!