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Jaylen Brown, Grant Williams, and others: Celtics offseason “predictions”

I’m 100% sure that these things will happen, unless they don’t

2023 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics lost to the 8 seeded Heat in pretty embarrassing fashion. They clearly need to blow everything up. Then again, they made the Eastern Conference Finals 3 times in the last 4 years and have two star wings headed into their prime, so clearly they need to keep it all together. If you are envisioning the “battle of wits” scene from Princess Bride, then you understand exactly where this article is going.

I will attempt to make predictions about how the rest of the offseason is going to go. And then I will immediately cast doubt on any and all of those predictions in the most frustratingly inconsistent way possible. But first I’m going to meander my way through the rest of the article. You know, sort of like an homage to this year’s Celtics team.

“Something has to change” is a thought that keeps echoing around in my brain. I can’t tell how much of that is knee jerk emotion from getting bounced by a team that my brain still tells me is inferior in talent. If the whole is less than the sum of its parts, then something is fundamentally wrong with the mix and you probably need to find new parts. Then I start looking in detail at the parts and I talk myself into keeping nearly all of them.

Joe Mazzulla is coming back as head coach. We know that one already so the debate over “should he be” is mostly theoretical. I’m troubled by the way the season went and I think he certainly deserves his share of the blame. In particular it seems like this team sought out an offensive identity by too often neglecting the defensive identity that got them to the Finals a year ago. It doesn’t help that this particular rookie coach didn’t fare as well as last season’s rookie head coach. But seeing Will Hardy’s success in Utah has me wondering just how much of last season’s success had to do with a strong bench of assistants.

No disrespect to the guys backing up Mazzulla this year, but I would like a little more experience on the bench next year. Perhaps that (plus another year of experience) will put Joe in position to put the players in position to succeed. Or maybe it will just give Brad a “break glass if needed” option to promote in the event that Mazzulla needs to be fired next year.

2023 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Jaylen Brown is the next major topic on the board. For a second straight playoffs, his inability to handle the ball in traffic was a huge factor in the Celtics defeat. The new CBA is going to make life very difficult for expensive teams and if the Celtics sign two players to Super Max contracts, they’ll be squarely in the crosshairs for these apron penalties (sounds like a cooking show gimmick).

So they would be wise to at least explore the market for him right? You could probably get a package including a solid veteran, a promising young player, and a draft pick or two. Then you either replace Brown’s production in the aggregate and fill in holes elsewhere, or you flip some of those assets to bring in another star.

Then again, there are plenty of teams out there that are eager to get Jaylen Brown on their team. So many teams have a few nice pieces and maybe one star, but could really use that 2nd star to become real contenders. Despite coming up short multiple times, you would have to consider the Celtics real contenders in large part because Jaylen Brown is a star. So wouldn’t it just be easier to keep him?

Running it back doesn’t seem like a wise option. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. If Joe and Jaylen are returning, you need to change some of the surrounding pieces. The Grant Williams situation might just resolve itself if he can get an offer somewhere that Boston isn’t willing to match. It would stink losing that asset for nothing, but sign and trades aren’t always as easy to come by as we would like. If you do pony up the money to keep him, that only puts more of a squeeze elsewhere on the roster.

Derrick White, you are perfect. I’m just going to anoint you as untradeable and a core piece moving forward. I will not be accepting questions on this matter.

So if I’m choosing between Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Payton Pritchard (who has probably already packed all his bags and said his goodbyes) then I gotta ride with Marcus and love and trust him till the end. We should probably sell high on Brogdon (6th man OTY, had one of his healthiest seasons ...till the end) and Pritchard (everyone needs shooting).

Then again, everyone noticed that Smart took a step back on defense this year. He’s effective on offense in certain ways, but if you are looking to change things up without moving the Jays, then maybe Smart is the one to move. But then I come back to wanting defense to be a larger part of our identity going forward and I can’t get there.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Two Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

As for our bigs rotation, we’re stuck getting 50% production out of our high ceiling rotation guys. Al Horford is wonderful, but he’s also getting too old to play 82 games plus playoffs at a high level. So sometimes you get the Al of old and sometimes you just get old Al. Robert Williams III has world-crushing upside, but he’s also just not available a lot. I’d love to hope for good health going forward, but at some point you have to wonder if he’ll ever play a full season. Grant may return, or maybe he won’t. He was hot and cold during the year and in and out of the rotation as well.

The further down the bench you get the less actual impact you get in the playoffs. Maybe Hauser can prove to be a rotation guy in the playoffs next year. Maybe Gallo comes back and makes Hauser expendable. Maybe the Kornet/Muscala/Griffin Bus Boys combo gets split up. Maybe the Celtics move some pieces for another backup big option. Or maybe they just draft someone in the 2nd round that actually plays next year.

Ok enough meandering. I guess I have to deliver some actual predictions. I won’t bother calling these SWAGs because they are neither silly nor wild. In fact, they are somber and worrisome so consider the the evil twin of the SWAGs.

Joe Mazzulla - Returns as head coach, but will be looking over his shoulder at whomever the Celtics hire to be his lead assistant.

Jaylen Brown - Signs the super max contract that the Celtics offer him. Then if things go sour next season, he’ll have to sulk till the offseason when he can be traded (at lower value than he could be moved at now because of the contract and a perception that he topped out in 2023). Or maybe everything will go great and I’ll look dumb for wringing my hands.

Grant Williams - Signs a huge offer elsewhere and Boston doesn’t match.

Malcolm Brogdon and Payton Pritchard - Traded for depth either at the wing or center. Don’t ask me for my trade ideas yet, I’ll get around to that eventually.

Celtics fans - Feel frustrated that the team takes a step back losing Grant for nothing and no other significant moves made.

In case you missed it, I have no great conviction in these predictions. Unless they happen, then I’ll be sure to say I told you so. Feel free to play along by making your own predictions in the comments below.

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