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Assessment of Team Direction

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"Contention" hasn't been a word heard around Boston is quite some time. Celtics fans have dwelled in the perpetual rebuild for the better part of 2 decades.

The team has been roundly criticized for a move that brought them a Hall of Fame player in his prime to complement another in Pierce, who is Springfield,-bound himself in all likelihood.

What's been missing from this equation is respect...for both the team and the individual players who've been here through tough stages of the current management's rebuilding plan.

Patience is a virtue, but it can be understood if fans of this team are a little anxious for some results...

Read the rest after the jump.

But getting past all that negativity, the team is STILL in a position to make a serious push toward contention with a few strategic moves. Boston truly hasn't had the assets  to attack the market in quite some time.

With all the questions surrounding management's  commitment to "spending what it takes to win", an accusation that's been bandied about for the better part of the past two off-season’s, the team could quickly change that miss-perception.

The issue really does remain the team's decision to make an aggressive move to take the Eastern Conference. It's been clear all season how substantial this year’s offseason market could be. With the solidarity the front office has been able to maintain over the past four seasons, this should be a great proving ground for their long-term approach.

Fandom and media alike have battled over the organizational direction, but quietly the team has put itself in a position to be a REAL player in the marketplace. This hasn't happened in years so it can be forgiven that most die-hards aren't quick to warm to the possibility of actual competitive Boston Celtics basketball....the best of them know that 2001-2002 wasn't anything to get worked up about.

So let's all just think about the possibilities of a couple of realistic moves. The Celtics have been in a great position thus far in most of the main trade conversations this year. They've got assets at all different levels of ability throughout their roster and they've balanced their payroll with short and mid-term contracts that help to facilitate moves.

All organizations will make mistakes along the way, but the team has kept itself in a position to improve it's standing in terms of their ability to build a competitive squad with short and long-term potential.

Obviously the Al Jefferson situation has been a key piece in the political drama of this team for the last couple of years. The clear talent he had and the overwhelming controversy he's drawn on the message boards is testament to the polarity and extremism that this team's core base has reached....we're all at a boiling point...

We are also at a cross-road...

This team can strike. They can make a push to do something substantial and work toward improving the aggregate value of the team over time to the short-term decision making. They've done it painfully right so far because they HAVEN'T committed to near-sighted "fixes" for the sake of box office rake. Even while the team's youth movement has tantalized enough to do the work.  The team’s aggressive ticket sales and promotions efforts have made up the gap. Stratbridge and Synergy should be thanked for that. As well as a progressive front office mind-set that has helped to facilitate this tipping point corporate culture....

Let's see what happens. Let's see if we may have some leadership and direction out of all of this waiting. There is definitely a number of options that the team could choose to follow, but as we break it down let's go to the finite.

Something simple that fits the basic principles of this team:

At 38-39 Gary Payton is capable of playing a supporting role to the young PG crew. He's good for 12 to 15 minutes a game and about 15+ games of starting level play if used in the right situations. People get too fixated on top-level performance.  When you're dealing with a vet it's still all about figuring out what he's good for, not what's he got left. Respect and resume mean more in the NBA than almost any other sport.

Payton has the respect of the refs, the experience of being in the finals, as well as being a leader and winning with other great players...

The point isn't about bringing up Gary Payton, just like last month wasn't about Lamar Odom. The idea is to think about the past 4 years of Celtics basketball and not the last 20...

If the team is willing to commit to a substantial improvement in the frontcourt, they could easily get value out of a future-bound HoFer with the "million dollar" exception. There have been a lot of rumors floating around about possibilities and the team could work itself into a favorable position to actually compete. The infamous "one player away" move to compliment both the vets and the developing youth could plausibly take place, (Odom where are you.)

I'd love to see Payton come back, play 2 seasons and become an assistant and take the Avery Johnson express...

That's just me though...

At the end of the day, this team has wanted "relevance" with a mix of safety. No one wants to be the Miami Heat right now-though they would love to have that ring.

The principles of winning haven't changed so greatly that a team can't get back into the fight if they pay attention to the right faculties they have at their disposal. "No More Excuses" is the mantra for this squad? Let's pay that back in spades...

We'll see what transpires between now and training camp....