Celtics are quickly gaining control of a bright future - if they don't blow it!
With a 3-game winning streak out West, the Boston Celtics are starting to look like the team we expected in September. With 15 games remaining in the regular season, they will be looking to gain some ground in the Eastern Conference standings (presently 5th at 41-26). What happens in those 15 games and post-season will go a long way in determining the future of this storied franchise.
It all starts with owner Wyc Grousbeck and Celtics boss, Danny Ainge. Wyc has already gone on record that this team is willing to pay the luxury tax for a winning team. He also went on record with his analysis of Danny's ruthless trading reputation:
Ainge already shelled out $30,000 in fines to the NBA for tampering. The League didn't like the idea of Danny sitting next to Kevin Durant's mother at a Big 12 Tournament in March, 2007, when Durant played for the University of Texas. The Celtics courted KD (and got some interest in return) once again before Kevin headed to the Golden State Warriors. This summer could be the right time for KD to head to a new team with the talent and stability to capture more Titles.
For this season, only the Dallas Mavericks are under the cap of $101.9 million. The cap is set at $123.7 million for next season, and expect most teams to exceed it. Two stars per team used to be enough to contend for a Title - now three of four is the goal. Avoiding the luxury tax may be the ultimate financial goal, but that seems very difficult with current trends in the League.
Kyrie Irving already has one NBA Championship, but he is in his prime and wants more. Kevin Durant has two rings - he and Kyrie are close friends - and the major question with KD is whether he would sacrifice more money for a longer contract with an organization with a bright future. The same can be said of Irving.The following is per Metro Sports' Matt Burke:
(Jackie) MacMullan: “What I’ve learned, and maybe you guys already knew this. I did not. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are really tight. They work out together during the off-season. They make a trip every year to an island … the Bahamas, and Jayson Tatum was hanging out with them this summer and the summer before. Someone suggested to me, don’t sleep on Kevin Durant taking another look at Boston, which I had never considered.”
Al Horford and Gordon Hayward have no Championship rings, and Al, Kyrie and Durant all have player options this summer. The Celtics have $123.7 million in salary committed for next season - very close to the cap amount. It would seem next to impossible monetarily to have all four players on the parquet next season, but with Danny Ainge, nothing is impossible. It would require some slick maneuvering on Danny's part since Durant can't come to Boston as a free agent. Salary needs to be shed via trades.
And at the end of the day, things are gelling nicely for the Celtics - Kyrie seems content with his present troops, and a core lineup of Irving, Hayward, Horford, Smart, Brown and Tatum next season seems pretty enticing. Right now, there seems to be little chance that Wyc and Danny can blow this one. And Anthony Davis-to-Boston never seems to go away. If Boston can finish the regular season strong and have a long playoff run, the stage may be set for a very interesting summer. Did that 7-hour flight to the West Coast fly over a passenger-friendly version of the Bermuda Triangle? Things got amicable and productive for the Celtics in a hurry!
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