The "Summer Of Love" ended abruptly once the Cleveland Cavaliers finally landed all-star power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, which was also one of the worst kept secrets in the NBA. Might I add, LeBron James is a hell of a GM. What he wants, he gets. But that's besides the point. Kevin Love was long rumored to be the Celtics first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and last options this summer but obviously we know how that turned out. With Love landing in Cleveland, it seems as the Celtics upcoming season and roster is in a bit of shambles. I'll give you a bit of a reason why all is not lost in our beloved Beantown soon enough.
Remember this beauty? Yeah, we all do. But this was as close as it got to Love landing in Boston. A trip to Fenway. It just sucks to think that this guy is going to play with LeBron and play in his shadow instead of becoming an icon in Boston, but that is just how the cookie crumbled. Love was supposed to team with Rondo and recruit another star to Boston. It was setup to perfection by Danny Ainge. Ainge stockpiled multiple draft picks, expiring contracts, and young talent to throw into any deal to acquire whom they chose. Again, it fell through a wet piece of toilet paper. But like a true New England sports fan, we turned the other cheek, kept our chin up, and pushed forward! (*Crickets*) Well maybe...
Boston is going to rebuild for a second straight year and while that is going to be a tough pill to swallow, it may not be that bad in all reality. Yes, they are a young team, but with a young team that is also athletic on both end's, it bring's a TON of potential excitement. Here's why:
Jared Sullinger is poised to build off what he did as a full-time starter last season. Let's not forget, Indiana Pacers semi star center Roy Hibbert proclaimed Sully the Kevin Love of the East after a matchup last winter. And while Love now resides in the East, there is a chance that Sully can further his game and consistently produce Kevin Love type of numbers. In their first 2 seasons in the NBA, their numbers look very similar and that can only mean good things for Boston. I believe he can do it and become an elite power forward, now he just needs to maintain that effort and attitude, further develop his jump shot, and keep buying into head coach Brad Stevens defensive system.
Marcus Smart & James Young are the Celtics two new rookies who will make very large impacts this season, namely Smart. Young is still a raw rookie with defensive talent. He's got a great shot with the left hand but in order for him to contribute offensively, he needs to develop a consistent jumper. Let's not forget he is also 18 years old so he has time on his side. Smart is widely speculated to be the heir apparent to Celtics captain Rajon Rondo, but I don't see any reason to trade your star point guard as I believe the two can co-exist. Defensively, Marcus Smart can already lock down his position as he has an already made NBA body to withstand contact and stay with his man. He is offensively challenged but the Celtics hope that comes around with hard work and dedication. Smart will have a big role with the team this season.
Kelly Olynyk is entering his second season after a rookie seasons of highs and plenty of lows. Standing 7'0'' and fairly athletic and also with a great Summer League last year, the expectation was that Olynyk would play just like Dirk Nowitzki immediately (myself included) but partly through the season, I learned to pump the brakes a little. He isn't the strongest big man in the league, the NBA is a lot faster then the competition he faced in college, and he had a bit of a tough time adjusting. But he had plenty of bright spots last season. Building off of that should be a must for him this upcoming season. Becoming stronger and trusting that contact isn't going to hurt him will be a major boost to his confidence. I expect a pretty big year from him this year.
Tyler Zeller is a little bit of an unknown at this point after acquiring him in a three-team deal with Cleveland and Brooklyn. It wasn't long ago that Zeller was a top prospect coming out of UNC, but being as young as he is and being a 7 footer who is athletic, has a decent jumper, there is no reason to think that he can't mold into a very good center and what better way to do that on a rebuilding team that will give him minutes?
Veterans with Expiring Contracts. That says enough. The Celtics have a few contracts that come off the books after this year and some with contracts that expire next season so those will be very attractive pieces of trade bait.
TONS of draft picks. No need to elaborate here. Draft picks are still valuable in this day and Ainge (get it?). With a team that is more then likely heading for the lottery once again, that pick could very valuable to someone who is looking to rebuild themselves while Boston may look to compete again.
Rajon Rondo is thought to be 100% healthy coming into this season. Things could go a few ways. Rondo is a free agent after the year, so there is a good chance he will play out of his mind all year to earn himself a max contract offer from whomever is ready to offer it. He could be traded as part of the Celtics youth movement after he builds off how he ended last season as well as showing he is healthy and gain the Celtics more assets. Or the Celtics can look to build around him after this season and acquire proven, all-star, and playoff caliber talent. Rondo rumors have been plentiful this offseason, but one thing is certain: He will bring his A game this year and he will be exciting to watch.
So fret not Celtics fans. That's only a few things to be excited about. Another year into coach Stevens system will do wonders for this team and they will work very hard this year. The record will not dictate how good or bad they will be this year. Chances are they will not make the playoffs, but the youngsters are getting valuable playing time, something that playoff contenders cannot offer. While at times they will tough to watch, they will equally be just as fun. They are young and athletic. The coach will be a GREAT. Danny Ainge has a plan and he is creative so don't mope along season. Appreciate the promise and expect actual "fireworks" next summer.