People who know me in real life obviously know what a big Celtics fan I am. They are usually just casual fans and sometimes to make small talk they'll ask me a seemingly simple question about the C's. Here's how that usually goes.
Friend: "So the Celtics did better than they expected this year, huh?"
Me: "Yeah, it was an exciting end of the year."
Friend: "So what do you think they'll do this summer?"
Me: ... [eyes unfocus, jaw slackens] "Umm, I'm not sure. They could do a lot of stuff. It should be fun to see what they end up doing." [shrug, sideways grin]
In that moment before I give the lame, throwaway answer, all the distinct variables that we talk about on this blog come crashing into my consciousness. The draft, trades, free agents, future picks, trade exceptions, options options options. It is information overload and there's no way I can communicate all the things that I ponder on the subject in a concise, conversational way that would do the subject matter any justice.
I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Most of the folks that frequent this blog are kind of nuts about this sort of thing. This is what we do. The funny thing is that even though we pour over the options and debate the best plans, the grand topic of "what will they do?" is far more complicated this year than it has been in the past.
You can be in favor of trading up in the draft or not be in favor of it, but that's just one piece of it. There's a lot of back and forth on Kevin Love in particular, but all that talk is moot if he decides to stay in Cleveland or head to the Lakers. Same goes for all the free agents.
We don't know right now who would be willing to come to Boston so we don't know how to approach the draft. Conversely, we don't know how much the players we draft or trades we might make on draft night could sway potential free agents for or against playing in Boston.
Danny obviously has a lot of conversations with other teams and he's probably got a few guys that he's targeting one way or another, but when it boils down to it, his whole summer is going to be read-and-react as well.
Someone unexpected is going to pop up on the trade market - it happens every year. Some free agent that everyone assumes is going to re-sign with their current team is going to explore other options. Some team is going to be desperate to make a move on draft day and may need a team with trade exceptions and/or future picks to make it happen. We just don't know who or what or when or how right now.
Clearly all of that is part of the fun of sports. You never know what's coming next because this is all unscripted (despite what you tin hat ref-haters want to say).
30 NBA teams are going to try to get better this summer (or at least position themselves to get better someday). Each team has their own set of obstacles, constraints, and timelines. Right now Danny Ainge has perhaps the most flexible set of options ahead of him. He's said recently that he's got more valuable assets than he did in the summer of 2007. But that doesn't mean he'll be able to re-create the Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett trades. There's a lot of luck and timing that went into that brilliant summer.
Maybe lightning will strike twice and we'll be looking at competing for championships again in the next year. Or perhaps we'll kick the can down the road and settle for incremental improvements. Or maybe Ainge will make a San Andreas level mistake that will have this franchise reeling for years. We just don't know.
So what will the Celtics do this summer? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.