So the Boston Celtics as we know them for much of the past few years, have been blown up.
After ending their 2012-13 season in the first round of the playoffs, Danny finally succumbed to his urges, and turned this proud franchise of grizzled vets into young pups. A team that up until the beginning of this past season was feared by the reigning champion Miami Heat, are no longer a reason for concern any more.
After Danny Ainge traded away our veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the common question the basketball world seems to be asking is: what next for the Boston Celtics?
Firstly, I have absolutely no idea on what Danny will do with our roster as currently constructed, nor would anything he does actually surprise me.
What Danny does have however, are options and flexibility. He has a load of young assets, and 9 future 1st round picks over the next 5 years. The question is: what happens this coming season? This is important, especially when the all-important 2014 draft touted to be as strong as the 2003 draft on the horizon.
The way I see it, Danny has three options on a direction to take the team through this season and beyond:
1. Remaining competitive (Getting immediate help)
As the roster stands right now, we have an All-Star point guard, a budding 20 PPG wing scorer, an all-NBA defender in his 3rd year, some expiring contracts and some other key young pieces.
There are quite a few players in the open market that Ainge could acquire if he was willing to part with young assets and Kris
Kardashian Humphries’ expiring contract in a sign + trade.
An example of going this route would be the very popular rumour that has continuously made the rounds – obtaining Josh Smith in a sign and trade from Atlanta. Whilst the Celtics would be entertaining to watch in the immediate future, such a move like this for Smith, or any of the available borderline All-Stars would not make us a contender. Furthermore, the Celtics would be left in the dreaded land of mediocrity which, ironically, is where Smoove’s old team in Atlanta have been for the past 5+ years.
2. Making slight adjustments (No major acquisitions)
Going this route would entail Danny making some low-level moves to balance the awkward roster that would be left, after the trade with Brooklyn officially goes through. The idea here would be to develop (showcase) our young players and to increase their value, with the hopes of cashing out once their value has peaked.
The problem people can see with this route, is that the Celtics will not be bad enough to get a top five pick, nor will they be good enough to make a serious run. On the flip side, will we really be that good with this team? There will be no true centers, no bona fide scorers, and our best player may miss the start of the season coming off ACL surgery.
3. Complete the blow up (Trade Rondo)
This route is simple: gutting the team (trading Rondo) and basically tank for the highest possible draft pick in the 2014 draft. This is an extremely high-risk/high-reward type move that has burned the franchise
twice once before (in fairness, 2007 turned out just fine for us).
The worst-case scenario here is if the Celtics trade away Rondo at low value, and do not luck out in the draft. On the flip side, if we are able to snag one of these studs in this draft, coupled with all the 1st picks we have coming to us, we could very much see our team come together over 2-3 years just like OKC did when they started off with Kevin Durant + Jeff Green.
Out of the three moves, I think the best decision to make for this franchise right now is to be patient and maybe make a slight adjustment to the roster. There may be the temptation to move some of our young talent for savvy vets, but, do we really want to settle for being a middle-of-the-road team?
Also, if we could develop our young guys further, their value could grow quite a bit to the point where they might be able to net us a big fish. If Rondo’s recovery takes the expected amount of time, he could possibly be out until Christmas and when he does play again, he would surely be on a minutes restriction just like Ricky Rubio was when he came back from the same injury. With Rondo missing significant time, and being brought back slowly, the Celtics could find themselves being a lottery team, with a chance of lucking out and getting a top-5 pick in the 2014 draft plus their all-star point guard back at 100%.
I fully believe Danny when he says that he is not looking to deal Rondo, but, if he finds a deal out there that he simply can’t refuse, then, he surely should look at it. In the latest rumour, Detroit are reportedly looking at trading for Rondo. If Danny could receive a package from Detroit that includes either Monroe or Drummond + Knight and a future 1st round pick (and perhaps even throwing in Wallace’s contract for an expiring), then that is definitely something that he would have to consider.
Uncertain times are ahead, but with all the assets at our disposal, I have full confidence in our front office and Danny Ainge to pull off the correct moves to rebuild Boston back to being contenders year in, year out. Have faith and enjoy the construction of our next great team from the ground up.