Are the Celtics poised for a return to prominence?

When the Boston Celtics traded away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett this past summer, I, as, assumed it'd be a while for the Green to be truly relevant again. I, just as many of you, watched Comcast's Paul Pierce special with a bottle of whiskey in front of me, and two cigars that I'd enjoy afterwards nearby, as I'd wax poetic about the Big 3 era to a girlfriend who was kind enough to lend an ear and feign interest.

It was a night that felt 'special' at the time. And I don't think that was just because the Pierce-doc was really, really good (which it was) or because I don't mind an excuse to enjoy whiskey and a couple cigars (I don't). But because it felt like it had a heightened importance; this was going to be the last really good Celtic experience for a while.

And I resided myself to that. I think a lot of you have too.

But are the Celtics closer to being good than we think? Are we guilty of limiting ourselves to the initial thoughts we had on the future of this team (and maybe just a little afraid to come off like a Kool-Aid drinking green teamer)?

Consider recent history. In the Summer of 2007, the Boston Celtics made two major moves. They are as follows:

  1. Ray Allen for Wally Sczerbiak, Delonte West, and the rights to Jeff Green (selected fifth overall)
  2. Kevin Garnett for Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Minnesota's own 2008 1st round pick (#4 overall), and the Celtics 2008 1st (#28 overall).

It's worth mentioning, that while his time in Boston was ultimately underwhelming (as was the rest of his career), Wally Sczerbiak did average 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists a game in his year with the Celtics

Provided you're not the Encino Man, I'm assuming you remember this. I mention it because it's worth questioning if the 2014 Celtics are that far away from where we were that amazing summer? In fact, aren't there a startling amount of parallels between the two?

The Celtics again find themselves at the bottom of the NBA barrel heading into a loaded draft. The silver linings? A young, but not that young All Star who may or may not be able to be a leader, an A minus big-man prospect who could definitely work his way into All-Star talks, an army of first round picks and a few other nice, but lesser prospects.

Oh, and Minnesota's franchise Power Forward is about to enter his final season, and might want out. Again.

Now let me back up the truck a little. I'm making these comparisons to illustrate a point about the prospect of the Celtics future not being that bleak. There are significant differences between now and then; Kevin Love, as talented as he may be, isn't Kevin Garnett. The 5 inches Al Jefferson has on Jared Sullinger is significant, though Sullinger's exceptional defense compared to Al Jefferson's disinterest is significant. And while having a lot of picks is a great thing, it's not nearly as valuable as owning Minnesota's first, which as I mentioned above translated to the #4 pick overall.

But if you take a step back, even an eternal pessimist would have to admit that things aren't nearly as grim as they seem. The roster already has 2 very nice pieces in it in Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger. They figure to have a pretty nice pick in what figures to be a great draft. The Brooklyn Nets, who currently have the 16th best record and their future doesn't look any brighter, owe us 3 first round picks. We own all of our first round picks. And, as I wrote last week, the Celtics figure to enter next summer with a relative clean slate salary wise for a free agency class that should be nothing short of loaded.

The Celtics have options; They could build through the draft, free agency, or as they did in 2007, through trade. With Rondo or without.

There's arguments to be had on what's the best route. What can't be argued? The Boston Celtics won't be irrelevant for long.

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