For Celtics fans who want a quick update, here’s what I’m hoping for:
- Save the 2017 Brooklyn pick. It will be more valuable in June than it is now, and we will know a little bit (just a smidge) more about these tantalizing prospects after the tournament.
- Trade the future 1st rounders other than the 2017 Brooklyn pick. Trade the 2018 Brooklyn pick. Trade our own future firsts (if anyone wants a late 1st rounder, they are underestimating the diminishing value of those picks). Trade the Memphis pick, and whoever else’s picks we have stored away in there.
- Jimmy Butler is very good. Jimmy Butler may not be enough of a shooter to make the Celtics a top-tier contender. The way Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder play defense make Butler’s best attribute (his lock-down, versatile defense) less valuable. Jimmy Butler’s contract would make it more difficult to add Isaiah’s soon-to-be max contract to the books. Isaiah’s value to this group is immeasurable on offense. Yes, it’s fair to question whether or not he can maintain this incredible stretch he’s on. No, it’s not fair to fans who love watching this team and this transcendent player to make us imagine NOT re-signing him to a max contract.
- I love Paul George. I remember the big shots he nailed when those Pacers fought Miami deep into the playoffs. If Ainge can land George without giving up this year’s Brooklyn pick, I would be head over heels. Indiana doesn’t want to lose George, but with only one more year on his contract after this one, and Indianapolis being…well…Indianapolis…I bet he chooses to leave.
- Andrew Bogut remains a perfect fit. Even if he’s half-injured. Even if it’s only for three months. Ainge has to get Bogut, if only to neutralize Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valanciunas, or Marcin Gortat in May.
- Don’t trade the rights to Zizic. The man can rebound. We will need rebounds for the next decade!
- Avery Bradley’s Achilles to heal. Get it? Achilles heal. Not heel. If the Celtics make a bigger move, Bradley would likely be involved. I’d hate to see him go, as he’s developed into a very good shooter, and his defense is undeniable. With his contract expiring after next year, Ainge has to make a tough call.
- Terry Rozier is going to have a long career. He’s capable of being a 15/5/5 combo guard.
- Jaylen Brown is going to be very good. Probably in four years. Can we be patient enough to see his range develop? Remember Avery Bradley’s jumper four years ago?
For those that follow the NBA on a deeper level, a subtler question has emerged in the last several weeks: What is the value of your team’s 2017 1st round pick? For a team like the Celtics, who own Brooklyn’s coveted pick, the value is undeniably immense. In a draft class whose hype-volume is now on maximum decibels (predictable after a notably weaker 2016 draft class), that Celtics-via-Nets pick, even if it somehow ends up as the 3rd overall (64% chance when they finish with the worst record), is a pick that half the league would be drooling over in June.
It remains short-sighted for fans to demand Ainge make a move. The Celtics have made a move. They’ve climbed all the way to 37–20. They still trail the Cavs by four games in the loss column with only 25 games to go, but they do play Cleveland twice more.
Stretch-run match-ups to circle.
Fri, Feb 24: @ Toronto
Wed, Mar 1: vs Cleveland
Mon, Mar 6: @ LA Clippers
Wed, Mar 8: @ Golden State
Mon, Mar 20: vs Washington
Wed, Apr 5: vs Cleveland