What's Next for the Boston Celtics?
2017 marked the second consecutive summer that Boston has paired the #3 pick in the draft with a marquee Free Agent in the offseason. Last year it was Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, and this year it’s Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward. I know sometimes, and understandably so, people are at Ainge’s neck for his tendency to hold on to his assets as opposed to being more aggressive in trading for an established star. Just recently, we’ve seen Jimmy Butler and Paul George both make the move out West for underwhelming compensation; prices that the Celtics easily could have topped. I’ve even cracked up at this meme calling us “The Boston Assets”. But at the end of the day, you can’t argue with what Ainge has been able to do since the 2013 departure of the Big-3 era.
Trading the #1 pick in the draft is a move that he is going to carry with him the rest of his career. If Tatum ends up being as great as Danny thinks he is, he’ll look like a genius. But if Fultz has the better career, then Boston fans are left thinking what if. The good thing is that through 2 Summer League games, it looks like Ainge made the right choice. Yes, I know, it’s just Summer League. But you can easily tell who is ahead of the class in these games and Tatum looks legit. He’s displayed his entire offensive arsenal, shown poise not typical for a 19 year old, and even hit the game winning shot to beat Fultz and the Sixers. It’s extremely early obviously, but the early impression is he’ll see the floor a good amount this year.
Gordon Hayward. Man, it feels like we’ve been after him since the second we signed Brad Stevens years back. Of course he made his decision the most dramatic NBA news on the 4th of July, but shout out to Chris Haynes at ESPN for reporting it first and standing firm by never deleting the tweet. If Hayward didn’t sign with the Celtics, this would have been a failure of an offseason for Ainge and his staff. But the former Jazz swingman fits perfectly from both a cap and roster standpoint. IT finally has some help on the offensive end from a versatile 6’8” Small Forward just entering his prime after his first All Star season. He’ll fit seamlessly into the offense and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his numbers improve after averaging just under 22 ppg last season. He’s never played with a Point Guard that will command the attention that Isaiah Thomas will, and he’ll find plenty of open looks in our offense that emphasizes ball movement.
It definitely doesn’t put Boston on top of Cleveland, but Danny isn’t quite done dealing yet. In fact, he actually has to deal or else he doesn’t have the cap space to sign Hayward. There will be a number of contracts that are either waived or traded, including Young, Jerebko, Green, and Demetrius Jackson. Kelly Olynyk has already had his Qualifying Offer pulled and he’ll get a big raise on the open market. Terry Rozier might be gone and it’s even likely that one out of Smart, Bradley, and Crowder are on the move as well. So it will be interesting to see how these next few days play out and how Ainge ends up rounding out this roster. We’ll be bringing over our stashed First Round Pick from last year C Ante Zizic, but Danny will almost definitely find a big man on the market to help on the glass.
If Boston isn’t good enough to beat Cleveland this year (it’s not, yet), then they are without a doubt putting themselves in the position to be the next king of the East once these Cavs break up. And if these last few weeks are any indication, it definitely looks like it’s trending to be sooner rather than later. Ainge has been playing both sides of the fences by building for the future with Brown, Tatum, and next year’s 2 potential Top 5 picks while contending in the present with a core of Thomas, Hayward, and Horford. Some tough decisions will be made on Danny’s part over the next few weeks, but this will be a much different Celtics team taking the floor next year. Hopefully it’s one that can come closer to making the Eastern Conference Finals more competitive than it was this past season.