NBA: What Now for the Celtics?

After a season that promised so much but delivered so little, the Boston Celtics will go into this off-season uncertain about their future. Still asset rich but results poor, they will wait on the status of free agent Kyrie Irving to decide their immediate future. Their is much soul searching to do for Danny Ainge and co after an embarrassing second round defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Assets Galore

The Celtics rolled into this years regular season on a high. Their crowning feat was a Conference Finals appearance last year where they were two missed shots away from making the Finals. This was remarkably achieved without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum was the main option on a team full of guys on rookie deals. Not only did they have blossoming young players like Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they had a treasure trove of first round picks courtesy of tanking teams the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers.

This year the script has been flipped though. All three of those teams took steps forward this year, either winning more games or looking to make the Playoffs. The Clippers pick is now not in the lottery, while the Kings pick ended up being 14th. Next years Memphis pick could still be strong but Danny Ainge shouldn’t count on that for any home run trades.

2019 Celtics Season

Having five first round picks of any selection between this year and next is still a positive for the Celtics though. Its a shame this years performances cant be viewed in the same light though. They under-performed in the regular season this year too, even though Hayward and Irving returned they won six games less this year. Their defense was the first thing to regress from last season. Last year they had the third best defene and the number one defensive rating, while this year they had the eighth best defense with the seventh defensive rating.

Having to accommodate two more elite players in Hayward and Irving affected their offense too. They struggled to get to the line this year, ranking 28th in made free throws. This was largely due to them struggling to get to the rim, ranking 28th in shots taken at the rim. Players like Morris and Tatum lived in the mid-range, rather than being more efficient and only taking threes and layups.

Though their mid range shots were dropping in the Playoffs, they again struggled to get to the rim. Rebounding was also a problem in the playoffs, they were ranked last in offensive rebounding. Offensive rebounding comes down to hustle and effort, this may be symptomatic of deeper issues for the team. The performance of Kyrie Irving was probably most concerning for Celtics fans. He shot 35% from the field and 22% from three in their four games to one loss to the Bucks. Not only did he have a -37 net rating in the series, the nights he shot poorly he also had very few assists.

2019 Offseason

Looking forward to the summer now, Kyrie Irving is as good as gone. After an abject playoff performance, its looking like he will leave for nothing and join another star in New York. Though this will be a loss asset wise, Kyrie didn’t fit well so this may end up being a blessing in disguise. Should Kyrie leave, securing a Point Guard for the future should be the top priority for the summer. Terry Rozier should be the first phone call Danny Ainge makes if Kyrie decides he wants out. Rozier is a restricted free agent so Boston can match any offer he receives from another team.

Boston will be over the cap so will need to use bird rights to bring Rozier and Morris back. They don’t have the cap space to be a player in Free Agency. But they can use the mid level exception which is given to teams who are over the cap. This is approx five and a half million and can be used on one or multiple players.

Make a Trade!

They have three first round picks which after the Lottery means they can pick at 14, 20 and 22. As these picks would fill the rest of the roster out, they should trade these to bring in Anthony Davis. A package of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Aron Baynes, Guerschon Yabusele and the three first round picks would work nicely. This would give New Orleans a nice return for its star player. It would also let them retool their roster and sign players who would want to play with Davis.

A young duo of Jayson Tatum and Anthony Davis, coupled with Al Horford and Terry Rozier could be a contender depending on which other pieces they could convince to come to town. This summer the Celtics need to take hold of their future. Trading for Anthony Davis should be at the top of their priority list.

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