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The NBA Finals highlight the Celtics’ need to keep long term view

The Cavs are great and the Warriors are dominant.

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In case you have been living under a rock since the Celtics exited the playoffs, allow me to get you up to speed. The Cavs super-team led by LeBron James, are one game away from being swept by the Warriors in the NBA Finals. That is almost as amazing as it is terrifying.

The Warriors aren’t going anywhere either. They’re still young and have the ability to bring the core back next year. They’ll eventually need to make some pretty significant decisions on luxury tax bills, but there’s reason to believe that they will be this good for another couple of years at least. Oh, and the Cavs are probably still going to be very good for a few more years as well.

So does it make sense for the Celtics to even try to compete with these Goliaths? Well, yes and no.

In the immediate future, I don’t see a lot of reasons why this team can’t compete for now AND develop for the long term.

I’ll start by saying that I don’t know if Danny Ainge could assemble a team that would realistically compete with the Warriors and Cavs by “going for it” now. We’ve heard a lot about Gordon Hayward, Paul George, and Jimmy Butler. All very nice players that would make the Celtics better. But I’m not convinced that any TWO of them would put Boston on level with the Warriors. They might give the Cavs a much more competitive series, but I’m not sure if that’s worth it if you are giving up considerable assets and mortgaging the future.

On the flipside, I’m firmly against “blowing up” the team in order to double-down on the youth movement. Mega-young teams frequently swerve sideways through their developmental curves and don’t have enough veterans or important game experience. Also, crazy things happen in the playoffs and while you never want to root for injuries, they can change a whole postseason. The Celtics were a couple of turned ankles (or separated shoulders?) away from a Finals trip this season and could be in that position again next year.

Again I ask, why can’t we do a little bit of both (for now)? A core of Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward (if he decides to sign), and Al Horford is good enough to be one of the best in the East again next year. Also, a core of Markelle Fultz, Jaylen Brown, and the 2018 Nets pick would be an enviable foundation for a rebuilding franchise. The Celtics can have both next year!

Granted, some very tough decisions will need to be made on the rest of the roster. That’s the enviable dilemma that Danny Ainge has put himself into by making just about all the right moves in the past 4 years. He’s already talked about how the roster is unbalanced (too many guards, not enough quality bigs) and moves will be made to even things out. Long and short term finances need to be worked out as well. I’m not saying any of this will be easy.

But the Celtics can run back the core that won 53 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals and add some serious talent to that mix. That may not be enough to take down LeBron James next year, never mind the mighty Warriors, but it would be a lot of fun. I just don’t think you forfeit too much of that future core in order to win a couple more games in the playoffs (but ultimately end up with the same result).

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