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Big picture review: How did the Celtics get to this point?

Talent drain and missed opportunities have cost the Celtics.

Boston Celtics Hold Introductory Press Conference For Draft Picks Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

(This is part one of a three part series.)

“Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” - Inigo Montoya

Before we move too fast into what the Boston Celtics should do next, it is important to understand the context of how we got to this place in the franchise history. This is my attempt to give a brief overview from my personal perspective.

Zooming way back out, the Celtics used the Nets trade to build assets and cap space all while playing competitive, entertaining basketball. They were the envy of the league for years with their assets and team building plan.

Believing (correctly) that championship teams feature superstar players, Danny Ainge was always on the hunt for superstars. Danny and his assets were linked to star after star but for one reason or another none of the deals materialized. The exception, of course, was Kyrie Irving. That looked like a great start, ...for about a year and a half.

There’s no overstating how disastrous that 2018-19 season was. On paper the team was absolutely stacked, perhaps too much so. Regardless, at the end of the year, there was a mass exodus of talent with little coming back in return. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, and Aron Baynes all exited. The Celtics were able to use cap space and a Terry Rozier sign-and-trade to bring in Kemba Walker on a max contract. A season later we lost Gordon Hayward and only ended up with a TPE in exchange. That’s a huge amount of talent drain.

In addition, the Celtics have had a number of draft picks that could have been used in trades. Again, for one reason or another, those trades never materialized and the team ended up making selections with most of those picks. The end result is a bench that is full of guys on their rookie deals.

Granted, several really positive things have happened in the last few years. Headlined by the development of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown into All Stars. It is important to note that it was a good decision not to include Tatum or Brown in any of those rumored trade possibilities.

In addition, Marcus Smart has made himself a solid shooter and excellent all around player. Daniel Theis has been a find from overseas and has developed into a really solid player. Some of those draft picks have developed as well, in particular Robert Williams and Payton Pritchard.

So where does that leave us now? I’m glad you asked. I’ll get to that in Part 2 of this series.

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