Everything is cool when you're part of the team.
Ok, so maybe not awesome but everything is going just fine so far. For those who feel things are far from fine, maybe this will provide you some solace. If it does not give you any solace, feel free to trash my opinion if it will make you feel better.
Expectations Lead to Disappointment
There are a number of possibilities that raised all of our hopes as Celtics fans. To date none of these panned out as we would have hoped. It's kind of like fireworks on a wet 4th of July...
As the season began, I loved watching this team scrap their way to such a great start. Still, I was torn knowing at the end of the season this was going to hurt our chances at even getting into the lottery. We all know how this turned out - the 5th worst record (after tie breaker) with less than likely (but reasonable) chance to crack into one of the coveted top three positions. Yes, this one really hurt. I, like many others felt we were due some lottery luck but statistics won out and we landed where we were most likely to.
Even before the draft position was known, we started hearing the rumors about Kevin Love. I don't need to re-cap all the drama especially since we are still seeing a glimmer of hope even as recent as today. I am in the camp of I would like Love on this team but only at a certain price. When rumors came out the ransom would be Olynyk/Sullinger, our 6th, 17th, a future 1st, and filler I thought this was insane. Assuming this was the cost, I was glad no deal was made. For some of you reading this, your heads might be ready to explode. Before it does, here's why. Please note, none of these points are novel ideas (they can each be found buried in one of the various Kevin Love threads on this site) but more of a collective thoughts those NOT in the 'Love at all costs' group:
- Elite scorer and rebounder
- Excellent outlet passer
- Still very young, just entering his prime
Love Him Not:
- Average (at best) defensively
- Too many assets to give up
- Sullinger could be 80% of KL at a fraction of the price (for at least a few years).
- Could walk at end of year
- Acquiring him makes Celtics a good team, not championship level) with limited movement (assuming MAX deals for Love and Rondo)
As the draft night was approaching, KL rumors were still swirling. For some of us, there was an even more enticing possibility - Joel Embiid slipping to number 6. I have to admit, when he was selected by the 76ers I was pretty disappointed (insert Zack LaVine selection announcement here). When the 6th pick rolled around, I was terrified the Celtics were going with Randle who I think will be eaten up at the NBA level. With Gordon already off the board, Smart was the guy I was rooting for and gave a Bill Simmons fist pump when he was selected, although I was not on national TV when I did it.
In summary, not a lot of fireworks on draft night but we came away with two promising players to develop. Why should you care what I think? Because I have won a championship at every level except for Pro, College, and High School (but that 5th Grade championship was sweet).
Does anyone see fireworks yet? Nope, not even a sparkler. Big deals are not easy to get done. They can be the deals that lead to a contract extension or a firing for a GM. The perfect storm that led to the acquisition of KG and Allen does not come along that often. I think the notion that we can take a bunch of young players and draft picks and build a championship team is a little naïve. I think people start treating the NBA as if it is a Fantasy league. Although maybe the big three in Miami made this a little bit more of a reality.
Now Let's All Take a Step Back
Let's take ourselves back to before the season began. If you were told at the end of the season the Celtics would end up with the #6 and #17 pick, most people would be happy with that (I think). Remember fans being worried this team would be too good to get into the lottery? How about the Nets pick? That team was expected to contend for the title. I would have guessed that pick to be in the mid to late 20s.
Some can/will/should argue there were better choices at #6 and #17 and that is fine. As much as the local fan base may have been underwhelmed with what the Celtics ended up with, at least a few NBA personnel people felt the Celtics did very well where they drafted.
Where Do We Go From Here
Free agency has just begun. Danny has plenty of time to wheel and deal. Although I initially choked on the $$$ of the Bradley contract, I am starting to come around on it. Although his injury history scares be a bit (ok, more than a bit), if he stays relatively healthy it should be a reasonable contract. Moving forward, we still have multiple additional 1st round draft picks. The Nets' picks look especially good as they look like they are starting to crumble.
Being in the camp of slow rebuild, I am sitting back trying to be patient. I want to trust Danny the Drafter, build up some assets and then we will have more flexibility on whether or not to ride the youth or trade for some veteran assets.The Celtics have the right coach to help develop young players and are in a position where the franchise could be set up for the better part of a decade.
So this is why I think everything is OK. We have some youth to develop. It is going to take a few years to be true contenders but it's supposed to be about the journey too right? I don't mind watching a scrappy team that may not win more games than they lose if there is a direction.
In closing, since this is a longer term view, Rondo needs to be traded. Although I really like him as a player (and competitor) he will be on the wrong side of 30 before this team can make more than just an appearance in the playoffs. By mentioning Rondo, I have also touched on (unintentionally) just about every hot button issue - Trade for Love, Draft Embiid, Trade Rondo, Fast/Slow rebuild, draft this guy not that guy, etc..
So.. Do you feel ANY better now?