So the NBA Draft has come and gone and the Celtics made their picks without making a trade. That alone is interesting, but it doesn't seem like the whole story. If you've been around this blog long enough, you know that we've covered this in detail many times over. But if you are new or just want a refresher, here are some things to look forward to in the near future.
Summer of Love
Kevin Love is still a member of the Timberwolves but I get a sense that he's a really big domino that could fall pretty much at any time. Flip Saunders is making noises as if he's perfectly happy hanging onto Love going into the next year with the hopes of convincing him to stay past his free agency next summer. Not likely. That's probably just posturing to get a better offer.
Chances are pretty good that eventually the Warriors and Wolves manage to get a trade done that will probably include Klay Thompson. If not, however, teams like the Celtics are more than willing to get involved in some way. This may not get resolved until Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James figure out where they are going. Teams that fail to land those big free agents might turn their attention to Love.
Without Love, do the Celtics trade Rondo (especially since we have Smart now)?
That's the million dollar question. The short answer is "I don't know." I don't think you HAVE to trade Rondo now. Rajon still represents the best asset the Celtics have and he's a cornerstone type of player. If you want to win sooner than later (and I think Wyc and Danny definitely do), he represents one of the fastest ways to get there. You just need a few more big pieces to go with him. One of those pieces could be Love or maybe it could be someone else.
If we can't get anyone else soon, then it becomes a bit dicey. At some point, if he doesn't get any help, Rondo may grow frustrated with the process and ultimately he could choose to leave as an unrestricted free agent next summer. That's his right given the number of times Danny Ainge has floated his name in trade talks, I don't think anyone would hold the "loyalty card" against him.
So the Celtics would be faced with the prospect of losing him for nothing. If they feel like that is going to happen, then they'd be motivated to trade him before the summer. The longer they wait, the less value they could get in return for him. So they might make a decision on this soon.
There were rumors stating that if the Celtics miss on Love, they'd look to move Rondo and the would already have a deal in place for Jeff Green. Well, the team just drafted Smart and Young. Could they be the replacements? Time will tell.
With that said, I still feel like they'll wait and see how the free agency period shakes up the market before making any large sell-off decisions. After all, we haven't even hit the Fourth of July yet. The fireworks may yet be on the horizon.
Free Agency (Avery Bradley)
Speaking of free agency, we've got a fairly important one of our own to consider. Avery Bradley is still a defensive stud and has developed his scoring to a respectable level. That means other teams will be interested in him. He's restricted, so the Celtics can match any offer, but if the deal is too rich for what they value Bradley at, they might just let him walk.
The Celtics just drafted Marcus Smart who is a point guard but he can share the court with Rondo if the team feels like they want to go in that direction.
Traded Player Exception
Another thing to keep an eye on is the $10.3M traded player exception that was created in the Paul Pierce trade. The key dates to keep in mind here are July 10 and July 12. The Celtics can't use this exception until July 10 because they are hard capped until then (long story). The TPE expires on July 12, so they'll have just 2 days to use it. Any team looking to offload a player in order to get into the free agent sweepstakes can do so by trading the player to the Celtics for nothing (or perhaps for future draft considerations).
The big hitch in that plan is that two of the common names mentioned in such salary dumping deals were already traded. Omer Asik and Arron Afflalo were traded for very little in return and in theory could have been Celtics for fairly cheap. There might not be any more bargain deals on the market by the time the Celtics can use the TPE.
With all that said, you never know what Danny Ainge is going to do. Sometimes it looks like he's going to be quiet and he makes a deal out of nowhere. Sometimes you think he'll be active and he stands pat. But he's always working all the angles and looking to work the system any which way he can. I wouldn't rule out a deal where he helps facilitate a deal that lands a big star elsewhere but gives us assets in return (like maybe getting involved in the Love deal with the TPE but only getting an expiring salary and a draft pick in return).
Regardless, you can tell that Wyc is motivated and the ownership group has complete faith in Danny Ainge. If they see an opening to bring a star or two to Boston, they won't be shy. If they get blown away with an offer they can't refuse for Rondo, I'm sure they won't hesitate then either.
The draft was relatively quiet, but I don't expect the rest of the summer to remain that way. So keep an eye on CelticsBlog for all the latest rumors, breaking news, and analysis.