In case you haven't noticed, I've been doing some very public wrestling with my own emotions in regards to this offseason.
On the one hand, I'm frustrated that we haven't landed a big name player to use as a foundational piece to build a contender with. On the other hand, I'm not sure how many of them are out there to get and I'm glad that we didn't use up a bunch of our assets and flexibility on middling C-list wanna-be-stars.
In general it seems like an opportunity to get much better has slipped past this summer. However, in truth I'm not sure if any of the rumored names we heard about were ever really available, never mind affordable. So there's always the trade deadline, or next year, or the year after that. Rome wasn't paved with pasta in a day, or something like that.
But is the rebuilding going well despite the lack of "fireworks" thus far? That seems to be the underlying question on everyone's mind.
On the plus side, Danny has done an admirable job of gathering assets and flexibility in the post Big 3 era. We've got one of the best coaches in the game and he's still getting better. Plus, we made the playoffs last year, at least a year ahead of schedule. All good things, right?
So what's the problem? Expectations.
Wyc Grousbeck, Danny Ainge, Rich Gotham, and others have talked up the potential of speeding up the rebuilding process with opportunistic moves. They've gotten me geeked up for every offseason and trade deadline, waiting for the big shoe to drop. Then when we take a sideways shuffle or some baby steps forward it seems like a let-down emotionally.
It all seems so confusing in my head and my heart and I needed a way to make some sense of it all. So here's what I've come up with.
My basic premise is that the longer you think the rebuild is "supposed" to take, the happier you are with the early results. In short, if you were expecting a long rebuild (like 5 years), then everything is going pretty much according to plan. If you were hoping for a shorter one, then right about now you are frustrated and expecting more.
Consider this very scientific chart that I came up with. All numbers are based on mythical algorithms that exist exclusively in my mind and thus I consider them irrefutable fact. The left axis represents how happy you are with the rebuild process as time passes without a clear return to "contender" status. The various colored lines indicate how long you expected the rebuild to take.
Obviously if you got spoiled by the Big 3 era and wanted a 1 year turnaround back to being a contender, you were pretty much frustrated from the moment that Danny traded Pierce and Garnett. On the other hand, there are some folks who are just along for the ride and have no timetable in mind, and thus are happy with whatever. In the hazy grey are in between, there are varying degrees of expectations and contentedness with the rebuild.
I think one of the reasons why I'm a little all over the map is that I've been changing my mind about how long I expect the rebuild to last. Back at the beginning I was probably thinking along the lines of at least 4 years, maybe 5 to be more realistic. But when Wyc started talking about "fireworks" and having room for 2 max contracts and all that, I was cautiously optimistic. When Ainge said that he already had better assets than he did when he made the Ray and KG trades, I got excited. So I probably moved from the purple or green line to the red one. Which is quite a jarring freefall.
That doesn't mean that this is their "fault" per se. I want my team's owner to be a fan with big dreams. I want my team's GM to be looking under every rock for a way to skip a step or two. But sometimes you can't skip ahead and you can't make other teams give you their superstars.
Complicating matters is the fact that sometimes this rebuild feels like it has been going on longer. Sure, the official start date of the rebuild was draft night 2 years ago, but we all knew this team was on borrowed time the year before that. We last made the finals in 2010 and won it way back in 2008 - 7 years ago. It also doesn't help that so many other teams in the area are winning multiple titles during this stretch. Never mind that some team's have never won a title and Seattle doesn't even have a team any more. For lack of a better word, we're spoiled.
The funny part is that there's literally nothing that I can do to change things (Unless you really think Danny Ainge cares what a fanboy blogger like me thinks and is reading the site every day to come up with trade ideas to sooth my fears. If that's really happening we're doomed anyway.). Getting frustrated over something you have no tangible control over is a quick trip to going nutso. Still, we're fans and it is ingrained in our psyche to "root" for the team to do well - trusting the cosmos to reward our faith and perseverance.
So for the sake of my sanity I'm probably going to have to re-align my expectations back to the 4-5 year plan - allowing for the chance that if the opportunity arises, Ainge could always hit the fast forward button and get us going Back to the Future. But that's just me. You are welcome to calibrate your expectations however you like.