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What’s next for the Celtics?

The deadline has passed. Now what?

NBA All-Star Game 2017 - Media Availability Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and the Celtics made no moves whatsoever. I think that I’ve made it clear that I’m perfectly content with that outcome. Sure, it would have been fun to add a Paul George or a Jimmy Butler to this roster right away. But despite the angst and anger that you are sure to hear on sports talk radio, the Celtics are still in a great position going forward.

I don’t think you can call this deadline a “win” or a “loss” because the situation is more fluid and nuanced than that. I would elaborate, but smarter people than I have already made the case very eloquently. For example:

Why the Celtics stood pat, for now - Zach Lowe

The Celtics are still the envy of the NBA - Tom Ziller

Why standing pat was the right move for Celtics - Chris Mannix

What I wanted to do is provide a quick overview of what comes next for the Celtics.

Right off the bat the Celtics have a game to play tomorrow night against the Toronto Raptors. Boston is ahead of them in the standings but the Raps just added Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker for their own stretch run. So it is conceivable that the standings could come down to tiebreakers (which means records vs. each other). So a win Friday would be a nice start.

The Celtics will hope to get Avery Bradley back fully healthy soon but he only participated in 1/3rd of the practice today, so the team is obviously being cautious with him. Having a fully healthy roster would certainly help them down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Just because the trade deadline is over doesn’t mean the Celtics won’t be making any roster moves this year. There will be a number of players bought out from their contracts in the coming weeks and the Celtics would be very interested in adding someone (Terrence Jones perhaps?).

Looking further into the future, Celtics fans should be circling May 16 on their calendars. That’s the date of the NBA Draft Lottery when we’ll discover where in the draft order the Celtics will land as part of the Nets pick-swap. The Nets are a virtual lock to finish with the worst record in the league which gives that pick a 25% chance of being the top overall pick (see here for full pick odds). The lowest the pick would be is 4th.

Hopefully the Celtics will make a long run in the playoffs. Anything can happen but they won’t be the favorites if they eventually face up with the Cavs. Winning a first round series would be cathartic if only to get that monkey off their backs. A long playoff run might convince a free agent to lean in Boston’s direction. Still, this is Boston and everything short of a Banner is quickly forgotten.

So once the offseason rolls around Danny Ainge will once again be tasked with consolidating assets and adding top level talent to put them in contention for Championships. That means we’ll probably be hearing a lot more about Paul George, Jimmy Butler, and others. Honestly, I could see a scenario developing where the Celtics do NOT win the lottery but use that pick in a package to leverage a star trade anyway (like they did in 2007).

We’ll also be hearing about free agents like Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. In short, Danny will have options once again.

That doesn’t even account for the growth and progression of the players on the roster already. Marcus Smart has taken a big step forward in his game and Jaylen Brown has already improved from the start of the season. Terry Rozier has shown good potential and everyone is very excited about bringing Ante Zizic to Boston next season.

Of course at some point Danny is going to have to figure out how to pay guys like Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and (if he’s still here) Kelly Olynyk. They’ll have a similar problem to last year in that they will have too many picks and players to fit into a 15 man roster. However, I have a feeling that trades made in the offseason will clear most of that up.

As you can see, there’s still plenty of work left for Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, and the rest of the Celtics. It starts with the game Friday.

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