We've probably discussed Danny Ainge's "Bring 'Em Back" strategy to the point of nausea. Some fans are adamant that Danny's strategy is the right one, while others think that we should have "blown it up" and rebuilt immediately. Instead of focusing on the Celtics, we'll look at two other franchises as examples of "what might have been".
The first is the Dallas Mavericks. As we all know, the Mavs won a championship with a veteran-laden, aging roster. When faced with some of those veterans hitting free agency -- including Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea last off-season, and Jason Terry this year -- the Mavs decided that they preferred financial flexibility over trying for another title. How'd that work out? The Mavericks fell to the 7th seed in the West, and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Dallas saw its master plan of signing Deron Williams and Dwight Howard go up in smoke, as Deron decided that he'd prefer to stay in New Jersey. Even their backup plan of Steve Nash seems to be falling apart, as Steve Nash is likely to sign in either New York or Toronto. Now, the Mavs have all the "financial flexibility" they can handle, while they field a team featuring an unhappy Dirk Nowitzki and a bunch of also-rans. They're probably going to be stuck throwing big money at Goran Dragic.
Franchise number two? The Houston Rockets, run by former Celtics front office wunderkind Darryl Morey. After Nene spurned them last year, the Rockets came into this off-season with a significant amount of cap space. The buzz that they were in position to land Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol. Where are they now? They've agreed to offer sheets with Omar Asik for 3 years, $25 million and Jeremy Lin for 4 years, $30 million. Now, both Asik and Lin are up-and-coming players, but does anybody really think that Asik and Lin are going to lead a team into contention? That's $16 million worth of cap space essentially wasted on role players.
Maybe some are convinced that the Celtics could have done better than Asik and Lin. Would a franchise really be better off building around Roy Hibbert on a max deal? Or Nick Batum at a reported 4 years, $50+ million asking price? What about trading for Joe Johnson's over-priced contract?
The Celtics very easily could have been in the shoes of the Mavericks or Rockets this off-season. Instead, Danny chose a strategy that I think was very smart: he decided to maximize this team's championship chances. He realized that in the NBA, there are no guarantees that rebuilding will ever get you a team that reaches the Conference Finals. He decided that, rather than wasting cap space on Omar Asik and Jeremy Lin, he'd use the CBA to his advantage to sign Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. He decided that, rather than following the Dallas route of gambling on free-agents-to-be, he'd try to put a competitive product on the floor and hope that things go our way.
From where I sit, I'm very happy that I'm a Celtics fan.