Roundtable: When will the Celtics get back to the playoffs?
Roundtable #4 is here, and today we're tackling a very important question for Celtics fans:
When will the Cs get back to the playoffs?
Take a look at five CelticsLife writers' answers.
My reasoning is pretty simple: I think the Celtics are holding on to Rajon Rondo, and I think they're bringing in a big man next summer. The combination of Rondo, Big Man X, Brad Stevens and a stable of young talent (Bradley, Sullinger, Smart, Olynyk, Young, two 2015 1st rounders) will get the Celtics back to the playoffs in 2016.
Obviously this goes out the window if Rondo is traded or signs elsewhere, and if that happens we're looking at 2017 at the earliest, with 2018 probably being the most likely.
As for this season -- the odds are extremely small. The Celtics are a slightly better team than they were last year, but the Eastern Conference is deeper than it was last year, so I think they finish right around 25 wins again this season. I think the 8-seed will require 38-40 wins this year, so I put the Celtics way out of contention, probably finishing 12th or 13th in the Conference. Could a 2013-14 Phoenix Suns run be possible (I know the Suns didn't make the playoffs..but they easily would have in the East)? Sure, anything is possible. But the odds are miniscule. Get ready for another long season, but hopefully one with more exciting moments than last year. (More on this in Friday's roundtable).
It won't be this year. I think the realistic best case scenario is 2016. The longest postseason drought in Celtics history was six years (from 1996 through 2001), and if that happened again Boston wouldn't return to the playoffs until 2020. We'll call that the worst case scenario. I'll split the difference, but also lean towards being somewhat optimistic and say 2017.
This is again assuming Rajon Rondo isn't on the roster by this time next year, but I say Boston will be in the playoffs again during the 2016-17 season. If Danny Ainge goes with the youth movement, it'll take a couple years for the young guys to develop and gel.
As much as people like to talk about how weak the East is, the conference isn't so bad that a bunch of second- and third-year players can just strut their way into the playoffs. There's going to be growing pains and adjustments made along the way. While the 2+ year timetable just to get into the playoffs may not sit well with fans, it'll pay off long-term with a solid, young foundation to build upon.
If Rondo does stick around, they could make a push for the playoffs next season. But it doesn't look likely for this season, given how much the rest of the East has improved over the past year. Unless Ainge goes out and gets a stud or two to play with Rondo, don't expect more than a first-round exit.
I think the 2016-17 season is a reasonable estimate for the next Celtics playoff berth. The Celtics- despite being the 29th most watchable team in the NBA as determined by ESPN- play in the ultra-weak Eastern Conference. Unless the balance of power swings back to the towards the Atlantic ocean in a big way over the next two seasons, the Celtics stand a good chance at securing the seventh or eighth seed soon simply because the East isn’t that good.
Depending on what happens with Rondo, Green, and Bass after the 2014-15 season, the only big money contracts the C’s will have books will be Gerald Wallace and Avery Bradley. They’ll have more than enough cash to make a run at a first or second tier free agent which could be enough to get them into the playoffs when paired with their young veterans and rookie/sophomore talent.
This won't please many, but I think it's 2017/2018.
I just can't see this team getting radically better this season, and I don't think they're going to make any real splashes in the next 12 months. Mostly because it doesn't really make sense to. I don't think they're 'close enough' to make a push for a max free agent.
Let me lay out two scenarios and you tell me which one makes more sense:
1. Retain Rajon Rondo, acquire one of the top free agent bigs available next off-season (likely to be either Greg Monroe or Nikola Vucevic) and enter the summer of 2016/2017 with roughly 55 million dollars committed on what will probably be somewhere around a 72 million dollar cap (with Sullinger in restricted free agency).
2. Let Rondo more or less walk, and do nothing next summer. Enter the summer of 2016/2017 with roughly 21 million dollars on the books on a 72 million dollar cap.
To me, even as a guy who really, really loves watching Rondo night in and night out, the second option is a significantly better route to go. Which is why I think we might have to prepare for a day where the Celtics to trade Rondo for a less than desirable return. Think Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard. A nice young piece on a cheap contract, and not much else.