And with the 6th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, The Boston Celtics...
Trade out. They have to. Not just because they end up with the 6th pick after clearly expecting more. No, no, no. That's just not it. They trade out because no matter how hard they try to tank, they will never, EVER, receive a top 3 draft pick. Hence why I believe they do anything in their power to trade out.
After a tumultuous season that saw them lose 57 games, winning only 25, the Celtics had higher expectations. They had thoughts of getting a top 3 pick. Salivating at the chance to draft one of either Wiggins, Parker, and Embiid in no particular order. Only for it to just get away from them. This is why either one of two things need to happen:
1. The NBA Draft Lottery needs to be abolished. It's clear that there is a huge flaw with the system. While it is entertaining to say the least, it seems as if something is fixed. I'm not saying it is, don't burn me on that. But when a team with not even a 2 percent chance of landing the top pick, lands that top pick, something has got to give. If they want to make it as fair as possible, there needs to be a Battle Royale. Seriously. Not the one where you expect to see someone's dome rolling down I 95. No. Stop it. A battle for worst record. The worst records should earn that first pick and so on and so forth down the line. Flat out. Every North American sport does it so the NBA needs to get with the program.
2. The Celtics cannot tank. Or just suck in general. I'm firmly convinced that they will never land a top pick. In my time, you look back at 97, the year Tim Duncan came out. The Celtics were percentage point favorites to land that top pick. Look how that's turned out. Duncan has had arguably the best and most decorated career by a Power Forward the NBA has ever seen. The Celtics landed Ron Mercer and Chauncy Billups. Yes, really. Now the latter had fairly long careers. Billups even winning a title in 2004. Mercer, a very serviceable player that could score. But both combined couldn't even get a whiff of Tim Duncan's career. The next lottery the Celtics were in was the following season, when perhaps they drafted a young man, a hall of famer, arguably the greatest Celtic of all time, steal of that draft and steal of the decade, in none other then Paul Pierce. I may have went a little too far with the last few statements. But look what he did with what little he had around him for so long. Averaging 26 ppg. Grabbing 6 or 7 rpg. Handing out 5 apg. Doing everything in his power with the great number 8, Antoine Walker. He finally got his chance to shine under the bright lights when the Celtics formed the big three, the rest is history. And now you look at Tuesdays lottery. Not good...
But I digress from what I really am writing about. What the Celtics should do.
While I make the 6th pick sound like someone came in, stole both my cats and I couldn't even put up a fight, this draft class is deep. One of the deeper ones the NBA has had in some time. So the 6th pick does have significant value. I do believe that there is plenty of value in this pick, which could be a blessing in disguise for a Celtics team and city/region that needs to get out this rebuilding phase and start winning again. Danny Ainge has gone on the record to say "This draft class is deep, but I don't believe there are cornerstone players". I don't necessarily agree nor disagree with that statement. It's obviously too early to tell. The prospects this year are very talented and these teams with bad records and all, will draft good, young talent. The 6th pick allows them to explore all options. This part being the trade route.
There are plenty of options out there for the green team to fully reload for the upcoming season. They also have all the assets needs to make 1 or 2 major moves this offseason. One being 9 first round picks in the next 5 drafts, thanks mostly to the Nets and Clippers. There are plenty of players whom are entering the final years of their current deals. Insert Kevin Loves picture here.
Let me start by saying that they need, and I stress need, to put on a full court press of the Minnesota Timberwolves and try to land Kevin Love. Here's why:
He's an all-star. He's only 25. He's only 25. He's only 25. He's only 25. Has averaged 20 ppg and 12 rpg in the last two seasons combined. 18 ppg amd 12 rpg for his career. That's just to start. He's 25 years old, is a stretch power forward who will spread the floor. He's a superb rebounder, a great shooter who can finish plays at the rim with touch. A good free throw shooter. I could go on. With Rondo in the fold, your pick and pop plays have already increased. Rondo's assist totals go up dramatically. And you've already turned yourself into a playoff contender. That's just with Love in the fold. Yes, the downside of this is what you have to give up. Draft picks, Minnesota can take what they want. It's the players that are tough to say "we've essentially given up on you, so that we can have someone else." In this scenario, I see absolutely no way that Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk or both stay in Boston. And that's tough. I would have a much more difficult time trading Sullinger then I would Olynyk. The potential is greater and he is a monster on the offensive glass at this point in his young career. Something the Celtics have been repeat offenders in being terrible at. Sully took a big step forward this past season, Averaging 14 ppg and 7 rebounds. But also doing so hurt, having to sit out the end of the year. Kelly had his moments this year as any rookie would. A stretch 4 or 5 is something very valuable to teams this day in age. I firmly believe he's going to become a very good player. Also more then likely having to be in this trade, as salaries would have to match up fairly close would have to be someone like Jeff Green or Brandon Bass. I'm a big Jeff Green guy. I really think he's still going to become a phenomenal player. I know, I know, he's 25 or 26 years old. He's should have figured it out by now. He's yet to play in the right situation. Mark my words, he will become an excellent player on a contender. He's extremely valuable on both ends of the floor. Bass, a consummate pro. Playing the role of the undersized center, came through this season as a silent leader of the team. While his stats aren't sexy (11 ppg, 6 rpg), he was asked to guard players 4 to 5 inches taller most nights, has an incredible elbow number, is aggressive and can finish at the cup. A very valuable piece that can come off the bench and give you whatever you need. So, as far as Love goes, you have your assets there to make a deal for them. We can call it:
Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Keith Bogans absurd contract, a sign and trade player(Humphries?) 1st rounder this year and next year.
Kevin Love and Chase Budinger.
Sounds about right. Then your hope is Love signs that extension. Though there are rumors surfacing that Trader Danny would still trade for a superstar in the final year of his deal. That remains to be seen. The Celtics also can't just sit there and expect Kevin Love to take them over the top. They still need help on the perimeter as well as in the middle of the paint which is why the green tram has to hope that Minnesota isn't holding a kings ransom for Love. For the sake of the article we can call the first trade good. Celtics still have plenty of assets to go. Good talent and plenty of picks. There's a player in New York that's is also entering the final year of his deal. Yeah, that guy. That Anthony guy. Don't think it sounds too farfetched because it really isn't out of the realm of possibilities. With plenty of 1st and second rounders left and talent on the team, the could conceivably acquire Carmelo Anthony, shoring up a deadly Celtics starting line up. Let's say to acquire Anthony, the Celtics trade:
1st rounders in the next 2 drafts, 2nd rounder in this or the next draft, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace.
There are ways to fill your roster with talent after you acquire these stars. Veteran minimum deals, buying into what the Miami Heat has accomplished the last 3 seasons. You keep the players you've received as throw in's in other deals like a Joel Anthony. A Jerryd Bayless. Oh there's also another free agent forward whom I wouldn't mind attempting to sign either. That Pierce guy from Brooklyn. I'm sure he would come pretty cheap.
The focal point of these deals, circulate around your leader and captain, Rajon Rondo. Rondo does not need the ball in his hand to be happy. He is one of very few true point guards left in the NBA. Something that will mesh very well with his new Green Team Teammates. As Carmelo can now come of screen and shoot, slash to the basket for easy layups. Opens up the floor with Kevin Love. Pick and pop plays, a lot of two man games that get Love going early and often. That should keep Rondo happy and give him his best chance at winning another ring with a new big three, this time with himself included.
All these scenarios may be a reach, borderline crazy deals that probably won't happen. These are all hypothetical scenarios. But what having the 6th pick does, is give you that chance to make things like this a possibility. A chance to hope right back atop the Eastern Conference. All anyone in Boston wants to hear is that Danny Ainge tried. So do I say go for it? Of course I do. But I'm not the one signing the checks at the end of the day. But all of this, is a possibility. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon weren't the only ones to have dreams... And I'm not the only one.