We have a conundrum here. The four words no fan wants to hear are "wait till next year." On the other hand, the worst thing a team can do is overreact based on a sense of urgency and tie itself down to the wrong mix of players.
Danny Ainge has a plan to load up on players, picks, and cap flexibility with the intent of landing superstar players that propel the team into championship contention. The whole plan hinges upon a worthy star player becoming available and pouncing on that player for the right price.
However, if you reach the end of the road and that opportunity never materializes, then the plan is a failure, even if Ainge makes all the "correct" moves. But when is the end? How soon can you judge a plan like this? The whole idea is to maintain (and develop) assets for the future, so there really isn’t a defined end date. So it is completely up to the observer when they decide that they are tired of waiting.
Put more simply: We all want fireworks, but we vary on how long we’re willing to wait for them.
Of course the draft was just one window of opportunity within the larger context of the offseason. In the (very likely) event that we do not land Kevin Durant, there’s still the free-agency period and plenty of time to complete trades that GMs were not yet prepared to make on draft night.
However, if the Celtics are forced to kick the can down the road another year (or at least to the trade deadline), there is at least one big silver lining to hold onto. Yup, those future Nets draft picks. The gift that keeps on giving.
If anything, the Nets got worse on draft night by trading away one of their best players (Thaddeus Young) for a draft pick that isn’t likely to improve them this year. The 2017 draft class is loaded up top. Even if the Celtics don’t win the lottery and land a top-3 pick, they still could wind up with a franchise-changing player. It doesn’t hurt that the Celtics have the 2018 Nets pick as well.
The free-agent class of 2017 should be better as well, with more high-end players and a cap that is set to rise once again. So long as Ainge doesn’t do what he’s always said he wouldn’t do—throw money at a mediocre talent just to spend the money—then the Celtics should be positioned well again next year.
Nobody wants to "wait till next year." Making prudent decisions year after year doesn’t sell newspapers or move the needle on talk show programs. But it just might end up being the path that gets the Celtics to their next championship parade.