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Will the Celtics craft an identity for themselves this season?

If the Celtics can't win many games this season, can they at least do one thing for their fanbase? Simple - just figure out who they are and what they're all about.

Can these guys figure it out together?
Can these guys figure it out together?
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I think we can all agree that 2014-15 will not be "The Year" for the Celtics. There will be no Larry O'Brien trophy this spring; not even a deep playoff run. The C's will almost certainly lose more games this season than they'll win.

But none of this is to say that these next 82 games will be without purpose. Every season, whether it ends with a trophy presentation or a lottery appearance, should be about accomplishing something. It might be taking that final step toward a championship, or it might be laying the foundation for something that will pay off down the road. In any event, having goals is good. It gives your team direction. It lends you an identity.

Even bad teams have identities. The Sixers are rebuilding and eyeing the best possible roster to contend in 2020; the Bucks are seeing if they can piece together a winning culture around the talent of Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Jazz are investing (quite handsomely) in Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors and seeing what they've got. None of these teams are winning much of anything, but they all have a plan. You can't take that away from them.

For the Celtics, it's painfully ambiguous what that plan might be. Danny Ainge is a resourceful, scheming individual, and there's no doubt he's got something up his sleeve. But we don't know what it is, whether it will pan out and when - best-case scenario - we'll see any tangible results. Right now, we're just waiting. We're in limbo, waiting for whatever happens next to happen next. It's a painful place to be.

NBA teams revolve around their individual stars, and all these buzzwords like "identity" and "plan" stem from the leading men. The obvious reason why the Celtics' future is so hard to pin down is that their captain, ninth-year point guard Rajon Rondo, is hanging in the void between a cushy job in Boston and a burning desire to take his talents elsewhere. Rondo might stay with the Celtics for the long haul; he might be dealt tomorrow. Though we all have our guesses, no one really knows the answer - not even Rondo or Ainge themselves. Without knowing the fate of their star player, the Celtics can't possibly envision what 2014-15 holds in store for them.

The Rondo question hangs over everything. There's basically nothing the C's can decide until they find out what's happening with their point guard. His presence affects the way the Celtics play (typically ploddingly, with a insatiable addiction to playing through Rondo, even in transition), the way they talk and act (hypercompetitive, with little tolerance for opponents, referees or media members) and the way they look ahead to the future. With Rondo in that locker room, there will always be a certain level of obsession with winning a ring. Were he to depart, the younger roster could focus more on skill development and emotional maturity, knowing that eventually, the wins would follow.

It's not just about Rondo, though. On the whole, this team has a lot more guys than roles. Among Rondo, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton, who sees meaningful minutes in this backcourt, and what do they do with them? What happens to the Jared Sullinger-Kelly Olynyk-Brandon Bass cluster at power forward? Does Gerald Wallace play this season, or is he a $10 million chunk of dead weight? The Celtics have 15 men on the roster, all of whom could conceivably bring something to the table, but only five can play at a time. One has to wonder what blueprint Brad Stevens has in mind.

The Celtics lost 57 games last season, fourth most in the NBA. They may well end up 2014-15 even worse. But even if the defeats pile up, it would be great for the Celtics to at least do one thing - figure themselves out. The C's may lose a lot of games this year, but they ideally would at least find an identity.

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