After being swept up by Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games, it's time for Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge to shift his focus to the offseason and what moves need to be made to improve the team for next season and beyond.
Whether or not to re-sign Brandon Bass, Jonas Jerebko and Jae Crowder are key decisions he'll have to make very soon. The Celtics have expressed interest in signing all three, but once they hit free agency it will obviously depend how high the numbers get whether they resign.
Crowder made under a million last season and would likely be in line for a nice increase in salary. It seems they won't be alone in the bidding for Crowder either. His old team the Dallas Mavericks are rumored to have interest in re-acquiring him already.
Another big decision facing Ainge is whether or not to buyout Gerald Wallace's contract, or to explore the trade market yet again and see if anyone bites on the bait. What bait you say? How about a first round draft pick?
According to basketballinsider.com's Steve Kyler and his sources, the Celtics would be willing to part ways with a first round pick to trade Wallace and clear cap space. Kyler goes on to say Boston is "expected to be aggressive in free agency."
Wallace is owed $10.1 million for next season, but more importantly is finally in the last year of his deal. If Boston is willing to trade one of the first rounders they've acquired, that and the combination of an expiring contract could finally make a trade involving Wallace happen.
Some upcoming free agent names the Celtics have been rumored to be interested in are Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan, Jimmy Butler, Greg Monroe. I'm on the side of just give all the money to Kawhi. And let's just forget about Kevin Love, that went out the window when Kelly Olynyk pulled the Mortal Kombat moves out in Game 4. Love ain't coming to Boston.
The Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett points out that the Celtics improbable playoff run may have a positive effect on their ability to lure free agents to come to Boston. They even got some help in that regard from an unlikely source.
LeBron on Boston: “These fans are loyal to one thing and one thing only, and that’s green. That’s all they see & that’s all they care about.— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) April 24, 2015
and from James' Game 4 postgame comments:
I highly respect their coaching staff and especially their head coach, A very well-coached team. He put those guys out there every night and put them in position to win the game, and I think Brad Stevens is a very good young coach in our league.
That's a big endorsement from the best player in the game. As long as Boston has Stevens, we have that going for us. Players are taking notice.
Brad Stevens on getting players to want to come here: "You want to be part of a good environment? It's a good environment."— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) April 26, 2015
Evan Turner has embraced being a Celtic this season, and he believes the fans play a big factor in the draw to play in Boston.
Boston is always a destination team. Somebody will always come, whether we make the playoffs or not. It’s the energy and emotion. I’ve talked to some friends who have come here and played. They see that the crowd is crazy, the fan base is crazy, even when we weren’t in the playoff race at the time. People still show up. It’s about basketball, not other gimmicks.
Gerald Wallace has dealt with the dwindling of his playing time like a true professional while with the Celtics. He's been a mentor to guys like Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger. But other than that, and the Barry White baritone voice, he simply doesn't have much left to offer this team with the younger direction it's heading into.
It's time for he and the Celtics to respectively shake hands and go their separate ways. If it makes the difference in them getting the free agent target they're after, it's worth dangling a first rounder.
The season isn't even over yet, and I'm already imagining Kawhi Leonard in a Boston Celtics uni. You know it's going to take a lot of green to get Leonard in green. Might as well clear space however they can.
It's going to be a suspenseful NBA offseason again! Looks like we might need a new logo.
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Top GW photo - David Butler USA Today Sports
Mid GW photo - Lance Iversen USA Today Sports
Bot GW photo - John E. Sokolowski USA Today Sports
Kawhi photo - Getty Images muggsytobs 4/27/2015 11:47:00 PM Tweet Edit