Recently, Zach Lowe of Grantland.com released 35 crazy predictions for the upcoming season. Lowe mentions the Celtics twice in his piece. First, he believes Kelly Olynyk and Amir Johnson will emerge as Boston’s top frontcourt duo. Second, he predicts Jared Sullinger and James Young are traded before the deadline.
While I believe the latter to be less likely, both seem realistic for this season. However, Celtics fans may be hoping for a bigger splash this year than figuring out our own rotations and moving pieces currently sitting at the end of our bench.
In my opinion, predicting who gets traded and who plays minutes this year is almost arbitrary. I have enough faith in Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens to make the right moves and put the team in a position to succeed. So rather than sound off on all the things the Celtics may or may not do this year, here are 5 crazy predictions for the Association this season ultimately relating to the C's:
1. Mavericks look to tank, trade Dirk, keep 1st round pick, and rebuild:
With recent news regarding the waiving of Samuel Dalembert, it appears the Mavericks will be in serious need of a big man this season. It’s possible that Marc Cuban and company are moving pieces in order to make room for a 7-footer via trade, but the fact remains they still have a lot of work to do to be contenders in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Even with newly acquired Deron Williams and aging star Dirk Nowitzki, it’s very possible the Mavs come out of the gates slow, forcing the front office to consider the rebuilding process. With the Celtics owning the Mavericks 2016 1st round pick (top-7 protected), any sort of rebuild would need to happen fast and aggressively in order for the team to yield a high lottery percentage and keep their pick. A blatant tank is something the 37 year old Nowitzki, who signed a very team friendly contract, might not have interest in this late in his career.
Dallas could be compelled to trade Dirk and his reasonable deal to a team looking to make a run and in need of a scorer, ie. Pelicans, Pacers. If successful (or unsuccessful), the Mavericks could find themselves in position to keep their pick and begin the rebuilding process, much to the dismay of Celtics fans.
2. Knicks threaten the Celtics and Raptors for Atlantic division title:
The Knicks were a joke last season. Most wouldn’t argue with that. But you never know what the “Zen Master” might have done this offseason to change the mentality in Manhattan. Carmelo Anthony is back. No matter what you label him nowadays as; superstar, allstar, pornstar, pawnstar, whatever, the guy is still an elite scorer in the NBA. The 2015 4th overall pick Kristaps Porzingis has looked solid this preseason, and could blossom into a talented inside scorer this year. His addition might be a good fit for this team as his points in the paint may complement Carmelo’s perimeter shooting role. The Knicks could surprise a lot of folks this season and win 45+ games, a mark that might not be far off from the Raptors and Celtics.
3. Nets look to shop Lopez to Boston for 1st rounder(s) back:
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Brooklyn is one of, if not the worst team in the league this season. You look at the roster and it is jam-packed with a bunch of “what have you done for me lately” type of talent. In addition to the poor roster, no team is in a worse position for future drafts, with Boston owning their 1st round rights for 2016, 2017, and 2018. Don’t be shocked if Brooklyn starts getting desperate and offering the farm to teams for a seat at the lottery table, and no draft position could be of more value than what was their own.
Lopez is intriguing as he has the size and scoring ability Boston has been without since KG, but his value has appeared to drastically diminish over the last couple of seasons. Would Danny ever pull the trigger? Is Lopez or anything the Nets own even worth a top 5 draft pick? Probably not, but still, expect the Nets to make the call.
4. Bad blood between Cavs and Celtics continues... Celtics gain national attention because of it:
It’s no secret that during last year’s playoff series, the Cavaliers and Celtics were not on best of terms. The conflict may have started with Kelly Olynyk, inadvertently or not, and his tussle with Kevin Love, leading to Love’s season ending shoulder injury. The Cavs were not happy, and retaliated with a suspension-inducing cheap shot by JR Smith on Jae Crowder and a HARD screen by once Celtics beloved Kendrick Perkins. Why none of the retaliation was aimed back at Olynyk still puzzles me, but nonetheless, I doubt both sides signed a formal truce in the offseason. After all, it took Love quite a bit of time to accept Olynyk’s apology.
I expect these teams’ regular season matchups will have a playoff feel, as the Celtics will look for revenge. Maybe not so much for the cheap shot, but more on the embarrassing 4-0 sweep. Regardless, these games will be hard fought and the C’s may continue to get under the reigning Eastern Conference champs skin. These will be the nights where the national media will have to consider the Celtics as a real threat in the East as they battle with this year’s favorites to win the title.
5. Danny Ainge finishes the year with MORE draft picks than he starts with:
This might be crazy depending on how you look at it. First you say, “HOW CAN DANNY POSSIBLY NEED MORE DRAFT PICKS?” A question many have been asking over the course of some of Ainge’s recent moves. But consider this; rookie contracts are becoming more and more valuable with the anticipated cap rise next season as veteran contracts will increase and the rooks’ will remain the same. Teams will be looking to make serious splash in free agency, offering huge max deals the likes the league has never seen before. In order to fill their remaining rosters, GM’s will need lean on younger players with a minimum cap hit. While other franchises have started catching on, Ainge is way ahead of the curve.
Ainge has been open in the past regarding his draft pick treasure chest, claiming he can never have too many.
Photo Credit: Boston Herald
For more Celtics news follow Nolan on Twitter @NolanChuck Nolan Connor 10/26/2015 10:03:00 AM Tweet Edit