First off, let’s not blame all of this on Doc. The Boston Celtics have been rumored to be hitting the “reset” button for two years. Last night, it finally happened. And we mark the end of a wonderful, franchise-rejuvenating era of Boston Celtics history (2007-2013). Bill Simmons was both despondent and irritable when asked about the proposed (until July 10) deal during the NBA Draft last night, making the inflammatory claim that Doc Rivers “Quit on the Celtics.” He didn’t say a word about Danny Ainge‘s desire to look toward the future, or about the fact that the Celtics had two years maximum during which they could hope to compete with their current roster in the Eastern Conference (dependent on Rajon Rondo‘s health and finding a legit big-man and back-up point guard). Hamstrung by overpaid mid-level contracts (Jason Terry and Courtney Lee), and not knowing for sure how much value Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger might have provided as role players, while both deserve a chance at 35 minutes per game. Meanwhile the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls are younger and deeper. Doc responded to Simmons with the passing aggressive, “Well, I would call him an idiot, but I’m too classy for that. He doesn’t know the whole truth.” A few days after finally saying, “Goodbye, Doc,” with the pending Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics megadeal, we’re now saying “Adios, Truth” and “Sayonara, Big Ticket.”
Olynyk to the Rescue!
A real-life Canadian on the roster. The Celtics acquired Kelly Olynyk last night with the 13th pick (traded up from 16th to get him, which seemed unnecessary). Olynyk is a sharpshooting 7-footer who will provide some pick-and-pop ability, some rebounding, and zero shot-blocking ability. Olynyk’s best-case scenario is a better rebounding and less-rangy Andrea Bargnani. His worst-case scenario is Travis Knight. In all seriousness, Olynyk can genuinely shoot, which will make him an ideal Rondo pick-and-roll partner. The future of the NBA is not in low-post scoring, though the shot-blocking center will always be important. If Ainge finds a way to morph Fab Melo‘s shot-blocking and Kelly Olynyk’s shooting into one player, we’d have something awesome. As it stands, Fab Melo won’t be blocking many NBA shots for a while.
Though we may feel woozy, like we’ve just finished some old and dubious-smelling flounder, at the prospect of being lottery-bound in 2014, there are solid reasons to believe we are headed in the right direction with Brooklyn’s 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-round picks, and, a bundle of Nets, including Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Kris Humprhies, old friend Kris Joseph, and according to new reports, slasher MarShon Brooks will be included in the deal. These players all offer something (Bogans is a defensive-minded, 3-point shooter; Humphries is an excellent rebounder and nuisance), but most intriguing are Wallace (see below) and Brooks. Brooks offers instant offense but lackluster defense. Like Jeff Green, Brooks has shown glimpses of potential, but has had even less of an opportunity to show the consistency he needs to become a fixture in the league. The Nets will contend for the next two years, but age will catch up with them like it caught up with the Celtics, and Deron Williams‘ ankles are about as dubious as that old flounder we feel rolling around in our stomachs. We have to give Ainge some credit for attempting to stockpile assets. With the luxury tax and the new collective bargaining agreement, those guaranteed first-round picks will become harder and harder to obtain in the coming few years.
Gerald Wallace: The Wild-Card with the Big Contract
Gerald Wallace‘s contract (3 more years, $30 million) is an albatross. It would make sense for Ainge to consider using the amnesty clause on Wallace if he doesn’t resurrect his jump-shot and his confidence during the 2013-14 season. On the other hand, Wallace is a terrific defender, who actually complements the fast-paced system a Rondo-Bradley-Green unit needs. It is not entirely unreasonable to think the Celtics could compete for a 7th or 8th spot if Rondo and Jared Sullinger prove healthy early in the season. The more likely scenario, however, is that Ainge demands Rondo and Sullinger take their time rehabbing and don’t come back until January, leading to a lottery-focused second-half, during which the Celtics give themselves a chance to get lucky on uber-prospect Andrew Wiggins. The 18 year-old Wiggins has the Kevin Durant body-type and shot-creating ability that scouts are drooling over. In addition to the lottery, the Celtics will have some cap space and still have a dynamic point guard (Rondo) which should lure some scoring help to the roster thirteen months from now.
Anyone want to Lead Us?
One more thing…let’s find a coach soon. It’s harder to assess a team until you have some sense of who will be leading them. Danny will most likely be looking for a young analytics-friendly coach. What his name will be? Nobody knows. I’d guess a three-year deal will be the longest we’re likely to see.
Yes…Dark days are ahead. But honestly, they could be a lot darker. It’s tough. We’ve gotten used to success again over these last six years. Sustaining that level of success in the NBA is impossible for every team not hailing from San Antonio. How nice would Kawhi Leonard look in Celtics green?
Here’s a trailer for the documentary film Dark Days (2000), about the life of New York City’s underground population, living in the subway tunnels. It’s brutal and should give you a sense of the next few years in Boston: