And just like that, the season is over.
We had a lot of good developments this season, lots of great progress. The team improved to 48 regular-season wins, Isaiah Thomas became an All-Star, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley got votes for Defensive Player of the Year, and Brad Stevens finished 6th in Coach of the Year voting. Several young players on the roster developed, and some are transitioning from "young player" to veterans before our eyes.
But the song remains the same as it did at the end of last year. This team needs more talent, and specifically I believe that it needs top-end superstar-level talent to compete for championships. The good news is that the Celtics have a plethora of options available to them this offseason and many different roads that they can take to that next level.
This article isn't intended to be a one-stop shop for the whole offseason so much as it is a conversation starter on what we've got coming next. We'll have all summer to pick apart every move, but this is a good outline to begin with.
NBA Draft Lottery - May 17
We finally find out where the Nets pick is going to land. We have a 31.3% chance at landing a top-2 pick and a chance to draft Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. Of course that means there's a 68.7% chance that the pick will be between No. 3 and No. 6 (see details of pick odds here). If it lands outside the top 2, or perhaps even if it does land in the top 2, expect Danny Ainge to shop the pick for a star.
Teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs can begin making trades with any other teams not still playing in the playoffs. Those don't happen often though, as teams generally wait until the weeks between the Finals and the Draft to open business. Draft night itself can be one of the busiest days of the year for trade activity because picks are valuable as leverage in deals once teams know where they are picking.
Draft Night - June 23
The Celtics, as you may have heard, have quite a few picks and are almost guaranteed to use some of them in trades if only to stay under the 15-man roster limit.
In addition to the Nets pick, the Celtics are currently slotted to pick at Nos. 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 53, and 58.
Before you dismiss the 2nd-rounders, consider that the following players from the Hawks-Celtics series were selected in the 2nd round: Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, and of course we all know that Isaiah Thomas was drafted 60th overall. Also, the Spurs have mastered the art of draft-n-stash players that help them years down the line.
A lot will be made about the fact that the Celtics have never signed a big-name free agent. It isn't really worth arguing semantics, but I still feel like Kevin Garnett agreeing to waive his no-trade clause to come to Boston should count for something.
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck mentioned in an interview recently that the Celtics could have enough cap space to sign two max-level free agents. Brad Stevens has developed into a major selling point to potential free agents. In addition to being a vocal salesman, Isaiah Thomas is a great "first big piece" for Ainge to point to as he sells players on coming to Boston.
Sprinkle in the great fans and playing atmosphere of this town, and hopefully that's enough to overcome the weather. Besides, at the end of the day, things like "most money," "role," and "chance to win championships" rank well ahead of proximity to beaches.
The Celtics also have some free agents that they need to evaluate and consider for the future. Evan Turner will be an unrestricted free agent. Both Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller will hit the market as restricted (so the Cs can match any offer if they want). In addition, the Celtics can decide to pick up or decline options on both Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko.
Theme of the summer: It's Lit
Because of the new TV money and the exploding salary cap numbers, this summer is promising to be one of the most memorable ones ever. Players are going to get PAID, and the definition of what players are worth on the open market is going to be altered forever.
The Celtics in particular are highly motivated to make a splash and have the assets to make a major move or two (or more?). As much as we've fallen in love with many of the players on this team, I wouldn't be surprised or disappointed to see some major changes in the roster this offseason. At the very least, the Celtics should be adding talent to the roster, and that's exactly what they need.