Indulge in a story of a path towards a brighter future for the 2015 season
The 2014 trade deadline is fast approaching and Danny Ainge is receiving a flurry of call from GMs regarding some of his fairly paid role players. The first call is regarding Humphries, a productive big who isn't finding enough minutes to start on a rebuilding team. The Bobcats were rumored to have pursued Hump this time last year and are looking for help on their playoff push and the opportunity to retain bird rights for a long term deal in the offseason:
Trade 1: Humphries for Ben Gordon & 2014 Blazers 1st
The next call that Ainge receives is from his old apprentice over with the Suns. The Suns struck out on talks for Gasol, missed on Deng, and couldn't make much out of the expiring contract of the injured and insured Okafor. The Suns want to reestablish a winning culture and have decided to break the mold of the "under 25" roster rebuild.
Trade 2: Bass & Green for Okafor & 2014 Wizards 1st
In this clairvoyant story telling, the season progresses on par with the current pace. The Celtics end their season in the same place that they are today and are slotted to select 6th in the upcoming draft.
Draft Day: And the Celtics select...
(per DraftXpress: http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-mock-draft/2014/)
6. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
17. Rodney Hood (Wizards)
19. Nik Stauskas (Nets)
26. Zack LaVine Isaiah Austin (Blazers)
Trade 3: In a dramatic draft-day trade, the Celtics shock the world and opt to trade Marcus Smart along with the LT contract of Gerald Wallace for the non-guaranteed contract of Jameer Nelson and the Magic's 13th pick of the draft, Doug McDermott.
As the days grow longer and summer peaks, the Celtics make a number of moves. First, they cut Jameer Nelson and let Bayless walk. They reach an offer with Avery Bradley for 4 years 30M and they win a bid on Gordon Hayward for 4 years 38M. They now have solidified their backcourt with Rondo-Bradley-Hayward at a total cost of about 30 million per year.
Next, with a total roster of about $46M, the Celtics are able to execute some opportunistic transactions. Danny gives a call to Larry, offering to free up some of his cap room for them to resign Stephenson in order to keep their championship team mostly intact.
Trade 4: The Pacers send C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland to Boston with a pair of second round picks for a the non-guarenteed contract of Keith Bogans and a TPE. The Pacers wave Bogans and use the extra cap space to retain Lance and Danny. The Celtics get two veteran role players, but more importantly, two expiring contracts in 2015.
Your 2014-15 Celtics
PG: Rondo, Pressey, Watson
SG: Bradley, Johnson, Stauskas
SF: Hayward, Hood, Copeland
PF: Olynyk, McDermott
C: Sulinger, Austin, Favarani, Anthony
With the roster full and set, Stevens redirects a young Celtics team behind the leadership of Rondo with one goal: To Win. The season is rocky. There are injuries and ups and downs as Rondo figures out how best to use all of his new weapons and as the rookies get their footing in the NBA. Around the league, contenders from last year are struggling and again the East is very weak.
One team to note, the Memphis Grizzles, who made a strong push into the second round of the playoffs is starting to falter. Conley is hurt and the team is not doing well besides the play of Marc Gasol. Ownership along with Hollinger looks at their roster and knows they need to make changes. The West is too strong to rely on Gasol, ZBo and this precious idea of team defense. Zbo and Gasol are in the last years of their contracts, Gasol being the more desirable asset of the two.
As the season progresses towards the trade deadline, its clear that Memphis is gauging interest in Gasol. The Celtics are floating around .500 and in the hunt for the bottom half of the playoff 4-8 seeds. They have tons of young talent, but need a second star player and are feeling pressure to surround Rondo with a contender. Memphis and Boston make the trade.
Trade 5: In a Garnett-like trade, Boston overpays and sends a package to Memphis that cannot be refused including young players, picks and expiring contracts and a resulting TPE.
BOS: M. Gasol
MEM: Copeland, Watson, Anthony, Isaiah Austin, 2015 Celtics 1st
The Celtics fight through the rest of the season and enter the playoffs with 4th seed and the following roster (plus a pair of veteran free agents to round off the bench)
Bradley, Johnson, Stauskas
Gasol, Olynyk, Faverani
The Celtics advance into the second round of the playoffs, and fall just short of the EC Finals. In the offseason, Ainge having put a near-contender around Rondo gets Rondo to sign a slightly-below-max deal along with Gasol.