It's over. It's finally over. The 2013-14 NBA season can be put to bed, and the door shut behind it, and the door locked, and the house demolished.
This has been a very trying season for Celtics fans. All year long there was the "pro-tank" side arguing with the "anti-tank" side and questions were raised about who was a "real fan." No one enjoyed watching Boston lose night in and night out, but some saw a great draft pick in a stellar draft as the end that justified the means, while others just couldn't fathom how Boston losing even a single game was ever a good thing.
Thankfully, those arguments can die off and we'll never have to deal with a season like this again (except in seven or eight years when the team may have to again start over, but we'll pretend that possibility doesn't exist for now). No more rooting for losses. No more rooting for other teams to make fourth quarter comebacks. No more "tank rank." Never again will we have to pay any attention to what the worst teams in the league are doing.
Now is the time to get excited. Now is the time for those who have been hiding under rocks and shielding their eyes from this horrendous year in Boston to come out and enjoy the sunlight. It's over.
This is not to say the 2014-15 Celtics will be title contenders. Both the owner of the team and GM Danny Ainge have cautioned that this rebuild may take a couple years. But this is going to be a HUGE summer for Boston and even if they still need to add more pieces when the season kicks off this fall, the team will be in much better shape. Winning the game will be the goal every night, both from those on the court and those in the front office.
Let's breakdown all the things to get excited about and there are plenty.
The Celtics are tied with the Jazz for the fourth lottery spot. They have slightly better than a 1-in-10 chance of getting the top overall pick. They also have a slightly better than a 1-in-3 chance of landing in the top-3. Even if they pick fourth or fifth, a stud is on his way to Boston.
The Celtics have another pick in what looks like the deepest draft in recent memory as the Nets sent their selection to Boston in the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade. Thanks to some late season tanking of their own, the Nets are tied with Washington in the standings and a coin flip will decide whether Boston picks at 17 or 18. Either way, a very nice young player can be had at that spot or the pick could be used in a trade for established talent or paired with a player or future picks to move up in the draft.
Speaking of future picks, the Celtics have a couple of those as well. In 2015, Boston has its own pick and the Clippers' first, as well as Philadelphia's top-14 protected first rounder which essentially turns into two second round picks, one each in 2015 and 2016, if the Sixers don't make the playoffs next year. Boston can also get Sacramento's second rounder in 2015, but it's top-55 protected so that's far from likely. In 2016, Boston has its own pick and Brooklyn's unprotected first. In 2017, Boston has the rights to swap picks with Brooklyn as well as Sacramento's second rounder. In 2018, Boston has its own pick and Brooklyn's unprotected first.
As coveted as first round picks are in the current state of the NBA, there should be little doubt Ainge can bring in a nice haul with only a couple of those future selections.
An All-Star already on the roster:
You can argue for weeks whether Boston should build around Rajon Rondo or trade him, but either outcome is very beneficial to the Celtics. They either keep their All-Star point guard and add more talent around him putting the team a step ahead of other rebuilding squads or they ship him for a sizable bounty. Everybody wins.
Great young players:
As with Rondo, you could make a case either way with keeping the young guys on the roster or trading them for veterans. Jared Sullinger has the makings of a double-double machine for years to come and could play the Al Jefferson role in a blockbuster deal or he could continue to get better in green.
While Avery Bradley certainly has his warts in the form of injuries, he showed marked improvement on his jumper, is still a defensive stud and won't turn 24 years old until a month into next season. Depending on how much Bradley wants as a restricted free agent this offseason, he can be brought back to continue to develop, sent out in a sign-and-trade or Boston can simply let him walk and hold onto their cap space.
How about that Phil Pressey kid, huh? He goes undrafted and yet he put up assists against NBA-level talent like he was Rondo. That between-his-legs-no-look-pass to Brandon Bass in the season finale was nothing short of phenomenal. Want to see it again? Of course you do.
Boston looks to have their backup point guard spot locked up with Pressey or they might be able to get some trade value out of the 23-year-old from a team looking for assists off the bench.
It's no secret that I despised the Kelly Olynyk pick last summer, but after a full season in the league the kid has shown some real value. His offense is polished as he can score inside or out. Olynyk's defense is atrocious, but he can work on it as bigs typically need a couple years to get comfortable anyway. Laugh if you want, but Olynyk has value in a trade if a team is looking for a seven-footer off the bench who can put up points. Or Olynyk can just as easily stay in green and be that spark with the second unit.
Brad Stevens had his work cut out for him this year, but he took it all in stride and kept his team focused and playing hard. It's certainly not his fault that Boston lost so many games. They had no center, no go-to guy and an All-Star recovering from an ACL injury. All year long those around the association praised Stevens and the Celtics for staying in almost every game even with all of those shortcomings. It's going to be fun to see what he can do when the team fixes some of its issues.
Cap space and non-guaranteed contracts:
Depending on what the team decides to do with Bradley and how much they pay their two potential first rounders, Boston should have some cap space to play with this offseason. Certainly not max-level space, but enough to maneuver through trades or sign a couple veterans to fill out the roster. The Celtics also have four non-guaranteed contracts with Pressey, Chris Babb, Chris Johnson and Keith Bogans totaling a little under $8 million. Those contracts are vital as they are essentially free money for a team Boston could be looking to trade with. Use them to make salaries match then cut the player if you want. Instant savings. Say what you want about Bogans, but that $5.2 million asset is the bee's knees.
So, yes, this last season sucked. It was a dark period in Celtics history. But it's time to put the 2013-14 season behind us and start looking forward, because the future is pretty damn bright.
@ericblaisdell13 Eric Blaisdell 4/17/2014 07:43:00 PM Tweet