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Celtics Calm Before The Storm

As we approach the summer months in Boston sports, we’re entering the calm before the storm for the Boston Celtics.  After finishing the 2015-16 season with 48 wins and being bounced by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, the season has been viewed as another step in the right direction.   However, there are going to be higher expectations as the Celtics go into next season.  What makes it interesting is that no player on this roster is untradable and the team has a collection of assets that could be moved.  The Celtics have eight picks in the upcoming draft on June 23rd including five of the top 35 picks in the draft.  Needless to say, we can expect that multiple picks will be dealt in the short term.

Here’s what we know.  Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to make moves.  He’s known for collecting assets with the goal of trading them for elite players who can put the Celtics in contention for an NBA title.  This was the case in 2007 when he moved multiple players and picks to acquire Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.  These moves were the foundation towards the Celtics winning their 17th NBA Championship in 2008.  The reality is that Ainge actually has more to work with now than he did in 2007.  Not only does he have the picks for this year, but he also has the Brooklyn Nets first round pick in 2017 and 2018.  In 2017, it’s an option to swap with their own pick.  They also have players who could help teams build and contend in Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, and Jae Crowder.  The issue for the Celtics isn’t that they don’t have assets to move, it’s that the players they are targeting may not be available as they were in 2007.  There isn’t a team in the NBA that has more to offer in terms of picks and young talent than the Boston Celtics.

The general thought is that the Celtics will end up trading the #3 pick in the NBA draft for a player who can help them right away.  While the focus has been on who the Celtics pick including Jamal Murray, Dragan Bender, and Buddy Hield, the reality is that even if they make the pick, they’ll be unlikely to keep it.  The bigger question is who will the Celtics trade the pick for and who else will they need to give up to get that player?

Danny Ainge has been trying to land Kevin Love for two years.  Has that changed after his recent decline in the NBA playoffs?  Love has been virtually invisible in the NBA Finals.  Perhaps, that means his trade value will go down which would benefit the Celtics.  However, is this really a player that you want to build your team around?  He doesn’t seem to be a guy who thrives in big moments.

How about a big man?  Is Demarcus Cousins available?  Or will Jahlil Okafor be the guy the Celtics covet?  One of the Celtics biggest needs is to a get a legitimate big man who can score down low.  Either of these players would fill the void.  However, neither is a great defender and a defensive presence under the basket which is, perhaps, the team’s biggest weakness.  When Jared Sullinger is your best defensive rebounder and interior defender, you have a problem.

Will the Celtics trade from their position of strength at guard to improve at the position?  The name that’s continuously floated out there is Jimmy Butler.  Would this trade make sense?  Avery Bradley and the third pick for Butler?  Bradley is the best defensive guard in the league.  Butler is poised to be an NBA All Star for many years to come.  The reality is that it would probably take more than that to land Butler.

The storm is on the horizon and Danny Ainge is working overtime on the forecast.  The fun begins on Thursday Night at the NBA Draft. The fireworks will be starting early in Boston this year.

The question is will this upcoming offseason make the Celtics a contender for the NBA title?  Time will tell, but Danny Ainge looks poised to cash in his assets.

 

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