The Boston Celtics tried and airballed on their chance to lure big free agents to town, but lucky for them they currently employ one of the best general managers in the league in Danny Ainge. He responded to the superstar whiff by resigning key contributors and adding new pieces, filling the roster with so much depth that ten plus players could potentially contribute next season on a regular basis.
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The signing of free agent Amir Johnson and trades for Perry Jones and David Lee significantly bulked up the Boston frontcourt. The Celtics also resigned Jonas Jerebko (AKA the Swedish Larry Bird) and Jae Crowder, who emerged last season as a potential starting small forward down the line.
Marcus Smart should improve significantly in his second year in the league and the Celtics also added shooting when they drafted R.J. Hunter. Fellow rookie Terry Rozier gives Boston a penetrate-and-kick weapon who should help spread the floor. And we can’t forget about Jared Sullinger. Playing in a contract year, he will have to stay in shape if he wants to earn good money next summer.
The aforementioned Lee is just a two years removed from an All-NBA Third Team selection and the offense could go through him at times. Yet another rookie, Jordan Mickey, averaged 13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game in five Las Vegas summer league appearances and if he can continue to show the skills he displayed there as a rim protector he will help the Celtics tremendously.
In my opinion, Boston has a ceiling of the 4th seed and a second round exit, and a floor of the 8th seed and a first round exit. Call me homer, but I believe the Celtics will surprise a lot of NBA fans and pundits next year.
The Celtics ended last season with a 20-11 record post All-Star break. Why did I pick post All-Star break? Because by that time they had traded away their two best players in Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. All signs pointed to the team tanking for the rest of the season. Instead, Ainge went and got sixth man extraordinaire Isaiah Thomas for a reasonable price and his clutch shooting propelled Boston to the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. This team will continue to improve and I predict at least 45 wins next season.
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Some will say the East got better. It’s an argument made every year, but more often than not it turns out that only one or two legitimate title contenders roam the conference. The Heat got better and should make the playoffs, but I believe another fringe playoff team, the Indiana Pacers, got slightly worse even with the addition of Monta Ellis. Their front court is putrid, and I do not think they will crack the top eight. The Bucks should be better with a healthy Jabari Parker, but at the same time the Hawks should be worse after the departure of DeMarre Carroll.
He signed a 4-year deal with the Raptors, but Toronto is still the team that screams regression to me the most. They ended the last season badly and can’t have Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan fall apart completely like they did. The Knicks may make a nice run at the 8th seed, but should ultimately fall short. Where do the Celtics fall in all this? I personally think they will be the 5th or 6th seed.
Even if I turn out to be totally wrong and things go south, fans should fear not because the Celtics could be in possession of three first round picks in 2016. They have their own and the Nets’, and get the Mavericks’ as well as long as it falls outside the top seven, a generous amount of assets that Ainge knows exactly what to do with. If I do turn out be right, however, and they jump up the standings next year, you can thank the maneuvering Ainge did this offseason after failing to land a big fish.