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Grousbeck: “the actual and the potential, there was a gap” with Celtics

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In a wide-ranging interview with Felger & Mazz, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck discusses the disappointing 2018-2019 season and what the off-season might hold.

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a week since the Celtics were unceremoniously eliminated from the NBA Playoffs in a gentleman’s sweep by the Bucks. On one hand, it feels like forever ago. Last night’s Milwaukee victory over Toronto was a sobering reminder that the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo are still the prohibitive favorite to come out of the East. On the other, there are already rumors that Kyrie Irving is heading to either the Lakers or the Knicks and Terry Rozier went through the ESPN car wash on Tuesday and seemingly burned every bridge he had in Boston.

In terms of anything official, it’s been radio silence out of the Auerbach Center. We heard nothing from Celtics’ management during last week’s exit interviews until yesterday’s 98.5 The Sports Hub’s talk with Wyc Grousbeck.

For much of the twenty minute chat, Felger & Mazz peppered the Celtics lead owner with questions about why this Celtics team was such a disappointment in the face of fun enthusiasm and high expectations. “We’re all annoyed and upset and disappointed, Grousbeck conceded. “I feel like there was a mismatch between the talent we had on paper and the way it was expressed on the court. The actual and the potential, there was a gap.”

“It was one of the hardest teams to love from my standpoint.”

After a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season, the team added a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward into the mix and finished a dismal 49-33 and were bounced in the second round. Grousbeck alluded to chemistry issues in the locker room, but refused to go into detail about specifics, including Irving’s pending free agency.

For the most part, Grousbeck blamed himself, just as Boston’s brain trust of Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens have fallen on that sword. “Did we construct it correctly? Did we course correct it? No, we didn’t. We went right through the trading deadline,” Grousbeck said. He suggested that there could have been moves made in February, but they had faith in the talent level and were optimistic whenever the team played well, including winning five straight games to start the post season.

Now, the off season begins. Grousbeck said that they’ve taken the last week and probably another to step back and re-evaluate the 2018-2019 campaign, but will be meeting soon to discuss their next plan of action.

“What we’re going to do is go player-by-player and say, ‘who are we going to build around going forward and what are our options,’” Grousbeck said. “We’ve got some layups and we’ve got some three point shots that we could hit and maybe we’ve got a half court shot or two to try to hit. In other words, there are some easy decisions and probably some harder decisions.”

On Wednesday night, the Celtics didn’t win the lottery, but retained the future value of the Memphis pick. They’ll head into the June draft with three selections and July’s free agency with only six players under contract. Grousbeck wouldn’t go into details about who’s staying and who’s leaving, but warned fans that any rumor that you might hear between now and the summer can most likely be traced back to agents with an agenda and “50% of them are made up.”