The offseason makes optimists out of all of us. Even the most ardent realist allows him or herself a glimmer of hope that pieces might just fall in place and that things very well could work out wonderfully. In that respect, Media Day is the happiest day of the season. Then (sometimes as soon as the first day of camp) dreams are dashed, and hard reality hits you in the gut like a child’s poorly aimed whiffle-ball bat.
But little Mouse, you are not alone
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid plans of mice and men
Go often askew
and leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
- Robert Burns
I don’t write this to depress you or even to dampen your spirits for the upcoming season. I think it is healthy to understand that something will go sideways for the boys in green, but it isn’t necessary to dwell on such things (unless that’s your thing, in which case you be you).
No, if anything, I write about the mislaid plans with an eye towards schadenfreude. You see, one team’s struggle is another team’s opportunity. We are all counting on the Brooklyn Nets to be among the worst teams in the league, but the bottom-dweller standings watch should go beyond the Big Apple.
Here are some teams that could very well greatly benefit the Celtics if their season goes South.
Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler... what could go wrong? Three alpha dogs who need the ball to be effective but can’t shoot. Spacing should be an issue, spaced out defenders could be a headache, and the coach might be looking for some space to clear his head by the All-Star break. The Bulls are typically averse to dealing mid-season, and they tend to want to hold on to their core players. If they ever do decide to detonate, however, the Celtics will be there to provide the TNT.
Los Angeles Clippers
On paper, Doc’s team still has a solid nucleus of Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. That paper has been shredded during each of the last three playoffs, and you have to wonder how much longer they can keep kicking that can down the road. Both Blake and Chris will be free agents next summer as well, which could complicate matters further. I could see Doc moving Blake to the Celtics in a three-way trade that brings back another big-name player (Melo?). Or maybe Doc will punt and just trade himself to another title-ready team.
I have no more words. Just this artist’s rendition of their situation.
The GM has already gone on record as saying that they probably need to move a big man. The absolute best case scenario in Philly is that Embiid is finally healthy and productive, which only exacerbates this issue further. The Sixers need guard help, and we have a surplus of guards. This isn’t calculus, this is paint by numbers. We just don’t know if the teams are speaking the same language.
Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks
Both teams are full of young, talented players and not a lot of veteran leadership. The NBA generally eats those teams alive and spits them right back to the lottery to pick up more young, talented players. If tanking is on the menu, that’s no problem, but the Lakers ownership has a mini-civil war going on and would like to win sooner than later and the Bucks are also eager to make progress too. If things don’t go well and the Celtics don’t land bigger fish there could be some swapping opportunities between these teams.
- Cleveland Cavaliers - Who’s up for Kevin Love Rumors 4.0?
- OKC Thunder - It is Russell’s team now. Is that a good thing for everyone?
- Indiana Pacers - Just because I still want Paul George.
- New Orleans Pelicans - Just kidding. They are NOT trading Unibrow. Deal with it.
We are collectively sitting beside a country road, leaning against a single tree, waiting for an All-Star Godot. Getting Al Horford was a wonderful first step, but there’s a shoe out there waiting to drop into that second step. We just have to wait a little while longer to find out who it will be. Truth is usually stranger than science fiction, and the Reality TV stars of the NBA always keep us on our toes. How it all shakes out is anyone’s guess, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the league’s potential train wrecks, just in case.