The Fourth of July may be behind us, but the fireworks aren’t over yet.
Since Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry were traded to Brooklyn, Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge has had to be alert at all times, aware of every trade, every draft selection, every remark made by players and executives around the league. He’s been up late on the phone, fielding and making calls, answering questions about his own personnel or inquiring about others.
He’s been moving, stockpiling, and using draft picks, and he’s been acquiring young talent, filling holes at every position that needed some patch work.
Yes, it’s been a busy year for the Boston Celtics, but it’s also been a tough one that saw the team win just 25 games. Rajon Rondo‘s return was underwhelming, and the Celtics actually looked considerably worse with their star in the lineup.
Jared Sullinger made significant strides but also saw his efficiency drop nearly 7 percent from last season. Injuries took a toll on the C’s lineup, and thus, fans were never able to see how well the C’s core (Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk) operated together for more than a few games at a time.
Thus far, the Celtics’ offseason has been fairly uneventful. They made no trades on draft night, and haven’t been (publicly) involved in the hunt for any of the free-agent superstars–LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony.
After once looking like the frontrunners to land Kevin Love, they have seen the Golden State Warriors take that title.
It must be noted that the C’s front office is one of the best in the league, and the executives recognize that less wins equals less ticket sales. In the past, Boston’s rebuilding years have been hard and the lottery has been unkind.
The Celtics have promising talent, but Rondo is also approaching a contract year, which puts Ainge in a difficult position.
Sure, Rondo has gone on the record saying that he would love to re-sign with Boston and end his career in a green and white uniform, but there’s an entire potentially mediocre year lying between now and when he is going to have to make that decision. Losing is hard on anyone, but is even harder on someone who is as competitive as Rondo.
Now, knowing Danny Ainge is one of the best GMs in the NBA, and knowing his track record, it’s tough to see him leaving anything up to chance. So with that said, its likely that the C’s either flip Rondo for additional picks and young talent, or they trade what they have now for an established star.
Looking at the roster, the C’s have set themselves up nicely to take either of those roads; drafting Marcus Smart gave them a high-upside prospect that could serve as wonderful trade bait, but also can provide some insurance at the point guard position should they decide to part ways with Rondo. Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are both projected to be quality big men in this league, and either could serve as building blocks, or just as easily, trade chips.
The Celtics also have three (potentially four) contracts that expire after next season, which also hold two-way value.
The clock is ticking for this club, and something needs to be done sooner rather than later. The Celtics have stood firmly by Rajon Rondo’s side during the past few years, and have managed to hang onto him despite the constant calls for his services, so it would be a curious decision to part ways with him before exploring other options.
It is rumored that Boston still remains in the mix for Kevin Love, and while it would be a waste of time to predict exactly what it would take to pry him away from the T-Wolves, some combination of expiring deals, multiple first-round picks, and a handful of the player-assets would certainly be required. While the price tag is hefty, bringing in Love would give the C’s another star, one of the best scorers in the NBA, to pair with Rondo, and the two could prove a very formidable duo.
If the C’s are unsuccessful in acquiring another star (not necessarily a superstar), Rondo could be on the move.
It’s been a busy 365 days for Danny Ainge, but the next 365 are going to be even busier.