Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge, the team’s future is all on you

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 29: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum #0 talk during the second half of the game against the Houston Rockets at TD Garden on February 29, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rockets defeat the Celtics 111-110 in overtime. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 29: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum #0 talk during the second half of the game against the Houston Rockets at TD Garden on February 29, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rockets defeat the Celtics 111-110 in overtime. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

With the Boston Celtics 2021 season coming to a merciful end, the team is now set to head into one of the most important off-seasons in franchise history.

After laboring through a mediocre season despite having two of the best players in the NBA on their roster, it is clear the Celtics need to make some changes before the start of next season to put themselves back at the forefront of the Eastern Conference.

For whatever reason, despite having basically an identical roster as last season, this Celtics team just couldn’t put all the pieces together this time around.

Maybe it was the quick turnaround from last season’s bubble playoffs to the start of this season, or the number of injuries and COVID related absences this team faced, but it never came together, leading to one of the more disappointing seasons of Boston basketball in recent memory.

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And for that reason, it’s clear that changes need to be made. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are admittedly still young and continuing to develop, but the Celtics can’t afford to keep wasting valuable seasons of their time in the green and white. Championship windows for NBA teams continue to get smaller and smaller as players gain more control of where they play, and even with both players locked up for the foreseeable future, we’ve seen numerous players around the league force their way off of certain teams.

That sets the stage for the most important offseason in recent memory for the Boston Celtics. With the amount of talent on this team, another mediocre season won’t be accepted by the fans, or more importantly, the players.

General manager Danny Ainge and the front office need to step up, and put together an aggressive offseason to make this team better for next season.

A large reason for this current roster’s limitations are unfortunately due to Ainge. He’s been trying to walk a thin line between contending now, while also building for the future. That’s led to the Celtics “almost” landing countless big names in trades, with Ainge not having the gusto to pull the trigger on a number of big moves.

That needs to change this offseason; the question is whether it is too late or not. The Celtics treasure chest of draft picks isn’t what it once was, and their salary cap situation isn’t spectacular either. It’s fair to wonder whether they have the assets to swing a trade, or the money to sign a big name free agent this offseason. But if there’s a guy to revamp this roster for next season, Danny Ainge is that guy.

What can be done to fix the Boston Celtics roster?

There are two main options for Boston as they head into the offseason; add another star to pair up with Tatum and Brown, or shore up the holes with a couple of solid veteran players. We’ve seen a number of star players decide to team up with each other and form so-called “superteams”, so why not try to leverage Tatum and Brown’s star ability to bring in a third option to team up with them and go on a title run.

If that doesn’t pan out, they can scour the free agent market for savvy veterans who can come in off the bench and replace some of the younger players who haven’t been very effective in the rotation this season.

There aren’t as many star players available as it seemed there would be when the season was at the halfway point.

Guys like Bradley Beal and Karl-Anthony Towns seemed likely to be available given their teams lack of success, but both the Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves turned things around in the second half, making it unlikely either player would get traded this offseason.

Out of the two, Towns is more likely to get moved, but it seems like Minnesota has a solid core with him and Anthony Edwards as they look to rebuild themselves into a contender.

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Free agency wise, there are a lot of what-ifs this offseason. The two potential big names that could hit the market are Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul, as both have player options in their deals.

Both may not end up on the market, but if Paul does, the Boston Celtics could probably create enough cap space and look to bring in the veteran point guard, and he would certainly be an enticing potential replacement for Kemba Walker.

The more likely route would be to shore the roster up with veteran players who can help fill certain roles that the Celtics need help in. If they wanted to attack some restricted free agents, guys like John Collins or Lonzo Ball are players who could be solid guys off the bench, or even maybe starters if necessary.

Signing Ball would seem more likely, as he fills a big need for playmaking, and could probably be snatched away from the New Orleans Pelicans for the right price.

In the open market, there looks to be plentiful veteran guards Boston could bring in to fill a big need on their team. After Jeff Teague flamed out rather quickly, the Celtics have really had no guard depth this season, aside from Payton Pritchard.

Guys like Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley, and Dennis Schroder are all set to hit the open market, and the Celtics could look to reinforce their guard rotation by adding one of these guys.

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Elsewhere, another guy the C’s could target would Richaun Holmes. Holmes took a big leap for a pretty bad Sacramento Kings team, and could come in and add another layer to the Celtics big man rotation. Holmes is a solid paint presence on both sides of the ball, and ever since trading away Daniel Theis, Boston’s depth just hasn’t been the same at this position.

All in all, there are tons of options for this team to upgrade themselves this offseason.

The time for waiting is over; the Celtics have their two stars in place, and need to take advantage of it and put together a championship caliber team. It’s time for Danny Ainge to switch out of his passive mindset, and make some moves to put this team back in title contention.