Future in focus: Ainge looking at summer of 2015

Stephen Dunn

Sean Deveney of The Sporting News and Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated talked Celtics this morning on the radio and both mentioned the same thing about Danny Ainge and the future of the franchise: the GM will look to make a big splash in the summer of 2015.

Mannix and Deveney differed on the current trade value of guys that are supposedly on the block like Brandon Bass and Jeff Green, but they agreed that Ainge will not commit to long term salaries the jeopardize the cap in 2015.  If he hasn't signed an extension by then, it's the summer that Rajon Rondo becomes a free agent and plans to explore his options.  Team options on Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are due that year and Brandon Bass and presumably Joel Anthony (if he picks up next year's player option) come off the books.  In Sean Deveney's words:

"That summer is when they expect to complete this turnaround and sign a big free agent, keep Rondo and with whoever they get in the draft this year, they should be in pretty good position to put those pieces together in the summer of 2015."

Who's the obvious target a year from now?  Kevin Love.  Our friends at RedsArmy also highlight LaMarcus Aldridge, Roy Hibbert, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, and others, but the big prize is Love.  As a California kid, many suspect that he'll bolt to the Lakers, but as Mannix points out, if he sees that a Rondo-led/2014 first round pick-fueled Celtics team looks more primed to make a run at a championship, Boston would make for a very attractive destination.  They'll still have a bevy of first round picks to work with and more expiring contracts (Green and Wallace) to deal for.  However, getting Love would probably mean trading Love 2.0 in Sullinger in another budding-Al-Jefferson-for-in-his-prime-Kevin Garnett scenario.

For now, that's the light at the end of this tunnel, but Danny could easily switch tracks.  If Sullinger develops into an All-Star forward, Olynyk has a successful sophomore campaign, Bradley re-signs and recaptures that chemistry he had with Rondo two years ago, Jeff Green consistently delivers as a #2 or #3 option, and one--if not both--of the 2014 first round picks pan out, the Celtics could easily go a similar route as the Thunder and Blazers have and build from within.  That's a lot of ifs, but the team has options and every deal Danny has made this season has made the roster more flexible for the future.  Like Bruce Lee says, be like water, right?

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