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If you're like me, you're sick and tired of hearing about fireworks in relation to the Celtics.

The whole thing started in March, when Celtics' owner Wyc Grousbeck said that he loved how the Cs were positioned, and forecasted some "fireworks" come June.

We’re a patient group. We will take a multiyear plan if that’s what it takes. But I think this June there could be some fireworks. I think this June we’ve got so many pieces to this puzzle that we might be able to shake loose a real piece or two for this team going forward. So, I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later."

It was innocent enough. But portions of the fan base have clung to these words as gospel, and those fans are now frustrated by the lack of said fireworks in a summer that has seen the Celtics simply use their two draft picks, and pick up a few more assets -- Marcus Thornton, Tyler Zeller and a 2016 first rounder -- in a three-way deal with the Cavaliers and Nets.

The Celtics have reportedly made several runs at Kevin Love, but the Timberwolves just have not budged. They do not want draft picks and young players for their star, instead holding out in hopes that they can land an established All-Star caliber player in return. It's disappointing for those who badly want another star in Boston, but the bottom line is that it takes two to tango. The Celtics have a treasure chest of assets, but Minny is looking for something else. Unfortunate, but it's hard to really blame the Celtics for that.

But fans can take some solace in the fact that Grousbeck is disappointed as well. Not in Danny Ainge's effort, but simply that the plan now is likely to take a little longer. He spoke about it with WEEI's Rob Bradford (who apparently then forwarded the info to EEI's Ben Rohrbach).

“We had definitely hoped to try to make bigger moves this offseason, to be honest,” he said. “Having said that, it takes two partners to make a trade, so we focused on longterm trying to build the club. We think we’re a better team now — positioned for the future, some new young talent and even more draft picks — but it’s been a patient summer so far, and I’m not always the most patient guy.”

To me, Grousbeck's point of view is a healthy one. It's completely fair to be disappointed about the lack of a major move, but also it's important to keep in mind just how much better shape the Celtics are in than they were last May.

The average age of their roster at the end of the 2012-13 season was 28.5, leaving them with the second oldest roster in the league. They also were in possession of only their own first round picks, and their only four players on their rookie deals were Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford and Fab Melo (who is now out of basketball).

14 months later, the Celtics' average age has dipped to 25.3, ranking them right around the 10th youngest team in basketball. They also have two first round picks in 2015, three in 2016, one in 2017 (with the right to swap with Brooklyn), and two in 2018. The Celtics have added five first round picks in the last 14 months, a massive haul in an era where #1 picks are worth so much. And they now have six players playing under their rookie contracts -- Sullinger, Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, James Young and Phil Pressey -- giving them much more young talent than they had a year ago, even if some of it is still unknown.

And the Cs are in position to have upwards of $40 million in cap space next summer if they can move Jeff Green (or he declines his player option, which is more likely than you think) and use the stretch provision on Gerald Wallace. That conceivably gives them enough room to draft both of their 2015 first rounders, re-sign Rajon Rondo to a contract that pays him about $15M/season, and dip into the incredibly deep big man market next summer and offer up a ton of money to the star of their choice.

Or, if another star comes available via trade, the Cs have a fantastic combination of expiring deals, young players and picks to make it happen.

Long story short -- the Celtics are in good shape. Not great shape. But good. And in the NBA, where rebuilding can take a decade or longer (just ask Minnesota, Charlotte and Sacramento), the Celtics have positioned themselves extremely well in year number one. However, it's going to take a bit more patience. It sucks, but that's life in the NBA. Even teams that can draw free agents need to go through it, as we saw with Miami's 15-win season in 2007-08, and now the Lakers two-year run of irrelevance. So suck it up, enjoy watching Rondo and the young guys, and gear up for the summer of 2015. You don't have to believe me now if you don't want to, but a year from now the Celtics are going to be filled with young talent (Eight players on their rookie deals, seven of which are first round picks), cap space, and future picks. That's the combination you need to rebuild in the NBA, it's just going to take a little while longer than we had hoped.


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Michael Dyer 7/20/2014 02:31:00 PM Edit
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