The Celtics have innumerable options available to them this summer. Every offseason provides the team with opportunities to get better, but I've never seen this team have such a vast array of directions they could go.
If you were to diagram a typical offseason plan, it would generally look like a decision tree. The first big decision rules out several possibilities and leads you to several more big decisions and eventually you run out of choices and you're done. This offseason's decision tree looks something like a fractal diagram. The first decision is simply to decide which decision to decide on.
One way to narrow down the options is to categorize them into groups based on relative probabilities. Some things we have declared from the start to be longshots. Like, say, a starting lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant, Jae Crowder, and DeMarcus Cousins. Some things seem logical to put in the "most likely" category. For example, Isaiah Thomas isn't likely to be headed anywhere—unless you count his free agent recruiting tour this summer.
Somewhere in the hazy middle ground there's a spectrum of "reality" that blurs from "hey, that could actually happen" to "well, that's seems unlikely, but you never know." One of the most common questions I get is some variation of "what do you think is a realistic offseason for the Celtics?" Sadly, I have no simple answer for these questions.
For starters, if you really want to get literal, the most probable outcome is usually more of the same. Obviously moves need to be made, including making picks in the draft and making decisions on our own free agents. But trades are hard to complete in the NBA because every other team is weighing their own vast array of options. Free agents are hard to count on because they have so many other choices and variables of their own.
This summer there's a better chance than most years that something "big" will happen, but that doesn't make it "likely" per se. Sure, Danny Ainge wants to make a significant move, but he wanted to at the deadline and last summer as well. He's got a long-term contract that tells the world that he won't be pressured into making a rash move that doesn't make sense long term. So if nothing comes along that seems like a good fit, Ainge will absolutely take the safe route, preserve his assets, and preach patience to the populous.
The biggest need (or at least the big picture need) is to add high level talent to the roster. So the preferable option would be to add a star player (or two, or three). Those kinds of moves would likely change the dynamics of the roster. But again, the odds of that are probably skewed to the "less realistic" side of the spectrum.
Right now, the Celtics need shooting and a rim-protecting big man. So if you are looking for interesting Plan B options, look for candidates to fill those roles via the draft, free agency, and trades.
Do you add shooting in the draft by grabbing a Hield or Murray with the 3rd pick, or wait till a later pick and target Denzel Valentine? Do you give a big free agent offer to Ryan Anderson or a smaller one to Jared Dudley or Mirza Teletovic? Or can you fill that need by trading for a guy like Robert Covington?
Do you look for a rim protector higher in the draft like Deyonta Davis or wait for the 2nd round and add a guy like Chinanu Onuaku? Do you give a big (short term) deal to Dwight Howard or really roll the dice big on chasing Hassan Whiteside? Or do you opt for a cheaper option to reclaim the career of Roy Hibbert?
Complicating matters is last year's draft class and how comfortable the Celtics staff is in their development into impact players this season. If R.J. Hunter can play a bigger role, in theory he adds some floor spacing. If Jordan Mickey can smooth his edges, he could be an immediate rim protector that wouldn't cost us anything.
It all boils down to educated guesses at this point. My best guesstimate is that Ainge will swing for the fences (Durant, Butler), then settle for a few solid singles (see above). I could see Ainge rolling the dice on at least one reclamation project since it worked out so well with Evan Turner. I could see him moving one of our guards to fill one of our more glaring needs. But I could also see the core of the roster returning largely in tact as well.
I don't see Sullinger returning, but I see Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko both having their options picked up (if by some stroke of luck Ainge lands two max contracts, he can always deal one or both into some other team's cap space). I can easily see Evan Turner getting a short-term, Amir/Jonas-like deal or a slightly longer deal at under-market prices. Or he could just get overwhelmed with a bigger offer elsewhere.
In short, the most realistic thing that can happen is that nothing significant happens...depending on your definition of "significant." Landing guys like Durant, Butler, or even Cousins seems unlikely. Love, Griffin, and others are also less likely than the names above. So once you eliminate those guys and rule out some guys in the league that make no sense for the Celtics (either too old, too expensive, or just a bad fit), you come up with a still-huge pile of options for the Celtics to consider.
So I'll kick the question back at you. What do you think is a "realistic" offseason for the Celtics? I may even be persuaded to give my own scenario in the comments. Just don't judge me too harshly, ok? It is a Monday after all.