Assets is something Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics have a lot of, and whether you agree with how Ainge has handled them, he doesn’t care. He has the Celtics right where he wants them and has them set up for success in the present and years down the line.
Who in the eastern conference doesn’t want to be the Boston Celtics right now? Nobody expects them to dethrone the Cavaliers this upcoming season, even with the new edition of Gordon Hayward, but it’s not looking too good in Cleveland when they’re talks about LeBron James taking his talents somewhere other than Cleveland for the second time. Boston has depth, stars (Isaiah Thomas is not a superstar that can lead a team to a championship, but he’s a star nonetheless), and potential.
Boston is in a unique position, that is, rebuilding and competing. Boston is potentially looking at two lottery picks in 2018 and potentially three first rounders in 2019, all while coming off a 52-win season and the top seed in the east. If in fact the rumors are true about LeBron possibly leaving Cleveland, it’s hard not to imagine Boston being the first eastern conference team without LeBron James on the roster in the finals since Boston back in 2010. The Celtics are set up to compete for years, if they play their cards right, and will no doubt be a place where stars will look to and try to compete for championships. Last summer they added 4x all-star Al Horford, and this summer they added Gordon Hayward, who had a breakout year and made his first all-star game. They may have missed out on big time players on the market such as Jimmy Butler and Paul George, but trust me Danny Ainge has a plan. His plan to be conservative with his assets until Lebron decides to either switch conference or retire is very realistic. if you don’t think eastern conference teams are thinking the same thing, just look at the number of stars that have switched sides to the west and the teams in the east flipping the reset switch.
Boston has an abundance of young talent. Jayson Tatum, taken third overall in the 2017 draft, after Boston traded down from 1 to 3, in the summer league has shown a knack for getting buckets. Whether it’s scoring around the rim or in the post with an array of moves, he’s scored 20 or more in three of his first five summer league games and has even drawn comparisons to Celtic great Paul Pierce. Jaylen Brown, taken third overall in the 2016 draft, has shown a ton of improvement in the summer league and looks to be a key piece for the Celtics going forward. He’s an uber-athletic wing with tons of upside/ so far in the summer league, his jumper looks improved and his handle looks tighter, both things that held him back in his rookie season. Both Tatum and Brown look to be impact players for Brad Stevens this year. As young as they are, they won’t have to carry the load like most top 3 picks generally do. That’s the luxury Boston has. While competing with a core of Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, Tatum and Brown have time to develop before having to step into a role more demanding.
With all those assets, you would have to think a big-time move is coming soon, right? I think Boston is waiting for something bigger and better than a Paul George or a Jimmy Butler. Both are great players but i don’t consider either players to be alpha males on a championship team. Both players found themselves in great situations where they won’t be counted on to be the lead dog. Butler should be the lead guy until Karl Anthony Towns is ready for that role, and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook is not taking a backseat to anybody. Could a move for someone like an Anthony Davis or Demarcus Cousins happen somewhere down the road? Rumors about a trade for Marc Gasol have been surfacing lately. If things don’t go well in Oklahoma City with the new duo of Westbrook and George, we could be looking at those two stars being on the market. I know the Celtics have said they would like to keep Isaiah Thomas, he is a restricted free agent next summer, but he is going to cost a lot of money, and while his value is still very high, it would be wise for Ainge to listen to any offers for Thomas. It’s already been established that it is just extremely difficult to win championships with a 5’9 point guard. No matter how much heart and game he has.
I believe the Celtics are doing just fine. With all these assets, they are bound to make a blockbuster move eventually. You can pretty much guarantee it. The question is not “Is Boston going to make a move?”, it’s “When is Boston going to make a move?”. It’s hard for the Celtics to mess this one up. They have assets most teams are not in possession of to acquire stars via a trade, and if they decided not to trade them, they have developing players that look like future stars. Boston has all the pieces to make big time moves, but also have the luxury of waiting for young players like Brown and Tatum to develop while still collecting assets and talent. It’s only a matter of time before it all come together.