We’re only a few days into the free agency period, and a lot more can change, but I thought it would be a good exercise to look at our probable roster and rotation to see where we’re at right now.
The Celtics still have a fantastic rotation of guards. Thomas is the incumbent All-Star scorer and Avery Bradley is the 3-and-D specialist. Marcus Smart can come in off the bench as the attack dog, and I have a feeling that Terry Rozier will be ready for a bigger rotation role next year.
Assuming Jae Crowder returns to his pre-injury form, he’ll be the starting 3, but he can also swing over to play some small-ball 4 as well. Losing the versatile Evan Turner hurts our depth, but 3rd overall draft pick Jaylen Brown will see immediate playing time and add an athletic dimension to the attack. Assuming the Celtics pick up Jonas Jerebko’s option (don’t see why they wouldn’t) he provides good depth and small-ball options too.
Al Horford is the bookend All-Star who brings it on both ends of the floor and makes everyone around him better. The other starting spot would go to either Kelly Olynyk or Amir Johnson (again, assuming his option is picked up) depending on what looks Brad Stevens wants to use. Hopefully Jordan Mickey will be ready to add some depth here too, especially if Zeller and/or Sullinger don’t come back. Personally I’d like to see Zeller return if the price is right. I’m less optimistic that the price would be right on Sullinger.
End of Roster:
If Zeller and Sullinger leave, the roster above stands at 11, and I haven’t mentioned RJ Hunter yet. The Celtics could cut James Young and bring in 3 rookies (like Yabusele, Jackson, and Bentil) to round out the 15 man roster.
So as you can see, the Celtics could simply call it a summer (with some minor housekeeping items) and work on finalizing their 15 roster spots in the fall. But if you think Danny Ainge is content, you’re mistaken. He’ll keep looking for options to consolidate assets and upgrade talent. He just has the privilege of being under no pressure or timetable to do so. If the right deal doesn’t present itself, he can keep waiting with the knowledge that he’s already improved this team considerably.
Just picture it:
Close your eyes and picture in your mind’s eye the following scene.
Isaiah Thomas brings the ball up and calls out a play. Al Horford slides out to the free-throw circle to set a wisdom-teeth-rattling screen. Thomas finds the 3 inches of space between the tangle of legs and arms and hits the pained area at a dead run. Two defenders collapse to impede his progress, so he whips a pass out to the corner where Avery Bradley is primed with catch-and-shoot hands itching to launch. A nimble defender races out to contest the shot so Bradley hits a cutting Jaylen Brown who takes advantage of the confusion to hammer down a slam that shakes the backboard and stirs the home crowd into a frenzy.
Brad Stevens nods, claps politely, and the Celtics rush back on defense, ready to lock them down once again.
Who's ready to start the season?