Things could still be ugly in Boston


VIDEO: Danny Ainge talks about the three-team trade

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens still has that six-year contract, which is good, because he still doesn’t have much talent to work with.

The Celtics haven’t stood idly by over the first two weeks of free agency. They re-signed guard Avery Bradley and picked up assets (a first round pick and a trade exception) by helping the Cleveland Cavaliers clear cap space and the Washington Wizards sign Kris Humphries.

The Celtics also added to their young core by drafting Marcus Smart and James Young, and adding Tyler Zeller in the Cleveland trade. They now have six first-round picks under the age of 25 on their roster (the others are Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger).

Celtics president Danny Ainge also has a bunch of extra future first round picks lying around. Few teams are as stocked with assets.

The potential is there for a very good team in the future. But the present is still pretty ugly. And though young players and draft picks are keys to trading for a star, the Celtics lack the one blue-chip asset that would make other teams salivate. If the Timberwolves eventually relent and trade Kevin Love, other teams can offer more tempting packages.

Celtics fans can take comfort in seeing the potential of a Smart/Young backcourt. They can anticipate further development from Olynyk and Sullinger. But they will also be watching a team that will rank in the 20s in offensive efficiency for the fourth straight season.

To succeed offensively, you need two things: a player or two that can draw double-teams and perimeter shooting. The Celtics lack both. They ranked 27th in offensive efficiency last season, and it’s hard to see them being much better this year, even with a healthy Rajon Rondo.

Rondo can be brilliant at times, but without potent scorers around him, he doesn’t put much pressure on opposing defenses. The Celtics were even a bad offensive team in their last two seasons with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. And Rondo made no impact on Boston’s offensive numbers upon his return last season.

Jeff Green has size and talent, but is neither consistent nor efficient. And Bradley is the only player on the roster who shot better than the league average from 3-point range last season.

Defensively, the Celtics have a strength on the wings (with Bradley and Gerald Wallace), but lack rim protection. With a season of Stevens’ system under their belt, they should be better than they were last season (when they ranked 20th) on that end, but probably not any better than the league average.

The 2014-15 Eastern Conference is going to be fascinating. All eight playoff teams from last season are still very much in the mix, while Cleveland and Detroit clearly improved with the additions of the best player in the world and one of the best coaches in the game.

Along with the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics will likely be watching from afar as those 10 teams (and maybe New York) fight for eight playoff spots.

Ainge’s options were limited this summer. Though it’s been a year since parting with Pierce and Garnett, his payroll is still well over the salary cap. He’ll have some flexibility next summer, but also Rondo to re-sign or let go and Green and Wallace on the books for another season.

So, Stevens will have at least another year to learn the league and implement his system. And it won’t be until at least Year 3 of his contract when we find out if he was worth a six-year commitment.

19 Comments

  1. Zeb says:

    been a celtics fan my whole life, like to see celtics do better next yr, i think they MIGHT have a chance at 8th seed if one of those other teams which made improvements flop. celtics got tons of young players, and decent perimeter defense with smart, wallace, and rondo if he isnt traded. they might be alright

  2. keithmon says:

    MarcusThornton and Tyler are both good shooters. Merge them with Jeff Green and having both RR9 and Marcus Smart taking it to the hoop and things should be better next year.

    I keep hearing about what Jeff Green can’t do, but as I remember he played some good defense and could block shots. He’s now heading into his prime and should be fully recovered from his heart problem so don’t be surprised if he has great season.

  3. BOS FAN says:

    No one in Boston is expecting instant gratification. We had our thrill in 2008 and were minutes away from a repeat. Rebuilding takes time and patience. Danny is the MAN. He got KG and company to Boston. He makes these decisions with his balls and i respect him for it. the only move that has been unsuccessful was trading Perk, which could’ve worked out.. but didn’t. Watching Danny make these moves for young talent is exciting. Winning isn’t everything. We’re years ahead of the Lakers who are in the same position (where things are very ugly at the moment). Here in Boston this is a very beautiful thing!

  4. Wheelsva1 says:

    Wolves loves is an excellent shooter and rebounder however, he’s no Dave Cowens as some would make him out to be. Cowens was the man in the middle on the Celts team and other teams knew it. As well as his rebounding and scoring prowess, his defense, shot blocking/disrupting, and team play were the total package. Just ask the Lakers, 76ers, Pistons, and Bulls.

  5. sheldon says:

    The Celtics are in need of a rim protector, i.e. a guy with 7’4″ or higher wingspan with some athletic ability (Vitor Favorini is such a player but is as clueless as Fab Melo) and they could make the playoffs. They were in a lot of close games where they lead but the other team realized there was no second line of defense and took the ball to the paint and crashed the boards (the Celtics don’t box out, don’t rebound and don’t block shots). Danny made a mistake in not having someone like Clifford Ray as a big man coach. Autin Ainge seems to be the big man procurer and is doing a bad job of it.

  6. Nate add me on psn GrenadeRaid says:

    Yo… Do NOt talk bad about JEFF GREEN. HE’s the NEW TRUTH welcome to the new age breakout season upcoming

  7. Steve says:

    Trampoline?

  8. dwade4life says:

    the hell you talkin’? these guys are pro’s, so respect the team. rondo is a great leader and when he’s healthy he can manage and put confidence for everyone in the team.

  9. Fug says:

    Look no further than the Phoenix Suns to have hope. Their roster is not full of big names yet played extremely well last season. I expect the Celtics players to be much better. Rondo and Avery with their health. Green with his confidence, Olynick with experience, Sullinger with conditioning, the coach entering a full 2nd season, possibly and potentially the best player in the draft because he is like Jokim Noah a winner who only cares about winning and can play 3 positions in Smart a natural born leader and consummate teammate. Zeller and Thornton are better than flying monkeys I can promise you that.

    The leprechaun is coming to the new Boston Gahden! Listen once you get past Lebron, all there are a bunch of guys with balls, some bigger than others. These kids are coming out so early at 18.19.20 years old it’s unrealistic anymore to say the first pick in the NBA draft is going to be a superstar. Recently a couple of 22 year old 2nd round picks in Leonard and Stephenson have proven to be better than 1st rounder.

    I think coach Stevens is going to show you how a no name team with a healthy Rondo leading the way, are talented enough to make the playoffs this year.

    The Celtics kind of remind me of the characters from the Wizard of Oz, Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow looking for health, experience and respect. The Celtics of Oz are better than you think.

    Prediction: top 5 in the East advancing to round 2 in playoffs

  10. bu says:

    Ainge is clearly planning for the departure of Rondo by trade or next free agency. To succed in NBA, the OKC and Heat super friends model clearly not the best. Looks like Ainge wants to have well rounded team with 3 PG rotation with 2 PG, and missing strong big to man the middle to match up, while having 2 talented guys in Sulli and Olynk.

    It’s still work in progress and yrs, will lose 50 games this yr. But great chance to develop young stars for 2 yrs down the road, with more top picks.

  11. Patty says:

    THINGS WILL BE UGLY IN BOSTON. LOOK WHO IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOSTON CELTICS. THE ROSTER IS PITIFUL.

    • jc says:

      You can’t just all of the sudden get championship caliber talent. It doesn’t work like that. Danny Ainge is one of the best GMs in the league, yet for some reason, everyone doubts him. Look at the Lakers, who are in the exact same position, they were also an aging championship team who could still somewhat compete for another title. Danny Ainge did the smart thing and blew up the roster and got a bunch of draft picks and young talent. Meanwhile the Lakers just let Gasol walk and they barely have any picks in the next few drafts, not to mention Kobe is only a season or two away from retiring. The Celtics have a bunch of young talent that could develop into a pretty strong team in the East and has all of the trade flexibility in the world. They will be a championship caliber team again by 2018 if not earlier.

  12. jdub455 says:

    how the hell can the celts expect love to sign with them with that kind of lineup…. lol!

  13. I like watching teams like these that give opportunities to young guys to prove themselves. I would not so easily overlook a team of competitors like the Celtics who have a lot of guys with something to prove and have a defensive focus. They’ll have a system and a great point guard leading them, we could be looking at next season’s surprise Pheonix Suns team.

  14. harrythehawk says:

    He won’t be considered worth it. Because the Celtics will be playoff challenged for many years to come. I’m from Boston but from here I can see the light much clearer. Sorry.

  15. spectator says:

    its always been ugly in boston

    • Do You Watch Basketball says:

      17 NBA Titles. Last being 2008
      10 MVPs.
      Most decorated NBA Team in history.

      I’m thinking your a Minnesota Timberwolves who hasn’t seen a playoff team in 10 years I think. Before you make a statement you might want to know at least something about Basketball. If you’re not a Minnesota Timberwolves fan you must be one of those jumpers on Lebron James’s “______” I’m sure you can fill in the blank.