If you are reading this, I'm assuming you are in for the long haul with the Celtics and not a casual fan. If you are reading this, I also assume that you have very strong feelings about the Antoine trade and what it means to this season. For those who are upset that Toine wasn't invited back and are despondent about the upcoming season, this ones for you (hopefully, unless you think I'm full of it).
This team is not going to win the championship this coming season. Yeah, I said it. We will not see the Celtics in the finals this year, and that is OK. Trust me, it is. This "mega"-deal with Toine certainly sends a crystal clear message. The roster is a work in progress, and its time for the young guys to earn their stripes. And I'm all for it.
Last years team had an exciting stretch of wins, but in the end just was not good enough. The team wasn't one player away, if they were Danny would have added said player this offseason. It's not like the Celtics can go out and add a Duncan or Garnett. The realistic choice is to build from the bottom up, develop some young guys and continue to tweak. As I've written previously, Danny effectively hit the old reset button on the Celtics roster and is in the middle of building this foundation.
Let me take a minute here for an aside. I live close to New York City and have some bizarre sports alliances. While the Celtics are my favorite team, I am also a NY Giants fan, and Mets fan. It occurred to me that both of these teams, particularly the Mets are in the same situation as the Celtics. The Mets, for example, are rebuilding, Petey aside, with a core of young exciting players - David Wright, Reyes, Beltran. They are improving; you can see it almost weekly. In a year or two, providing Omar Minaya can add pitching and a bat or two, they will be in serious contention for the playoffs, a prospect they are flirting with currently. Despite the fact they are still a step away, there is a feeling with this Mets team, a feeling that is fun, it makes you want to watch and care. Maybe its Pedro, part of it certainly is, but underlying that is the promise for the future, that it is not bleak, there is hope and promise.
The Celtics are just a step behind in this process. Pierce is akin to Pedro on the Mets, the star, still in his prime, capable of carrying the team for stretches, but will not be able to throw the team on his back and get them over the hump. That's fine. There are good things to come from the youngins this Celtics team. We know all their names, and what their potentials are, I don't need to remind you. It is a work in progress, and there will definitely be bumps along the way. Realistically, I'm expecting a significant step back this year. I'm fine with this. I can see what's coming down the road, and I like it. A smart, balanced and athletic team, that has learned the game together and therefore, has great chemistry. Without winning a once in 15 years superstar in the draft, that's the best formula to bring that 17th championship back to Boston.
I've basically taken this outlook with all my teams. They are all in the same boat, I just hope to see improvement from the individual players, see that they are learning and improving, anything above that is all gravy in my book. I've set my expectations low for this season; my suggestion is that we all do. That's not to say, give up on the team, but just don't expect to win every night. Enjoy the youth, the newness of it all, it will certainly be fun, and definitely frustrating at times, but in the end, I'm fairly confident it will be worth it.
"Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things."