Apr 5, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger (7) on the bench during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons beat the Celtics 115-111. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics - threat to Raptors in Atlantic Division?


Apr 14, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) walks off the court after being injured in the first quarter of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics endured a difficult  2013-2014 season, which was to be expected after luminaries like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded away. Their coach, Doc Rivers, was shipped out to the Clippers in exchange for a first-round draft pick. They have a veteran GM, Danny Ainge, who was a cerebral point guard as a player, loves accumulating assets. He showed his savvy last week, in a trade which flew under the radar while the universe was suffering through All-LeBron, All The Time (or you could switch to the Carmelo Channel). The Celtics acted as a facilitating third-party in a deal whose ultimate mission was to create salary cap space for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston gave up virtually nothing, and received some nice pieces in return (what a crazy sentence – sometimes I hate the NBA). Specifically, Boston gains streaky-shooting swingman Marcus Thornton, young, promising big man Cody Zeller and a future Cleveland first-rounder, in exchange for a box of popcorn and a half-roll of ankle tape  a Traded Player Exception and a second-round pick.

“I got plenty of nothin’/and nothin’s plenty for me” from Porgie and Bess, George and Ira Gershwin & DuBose Hayward, 1935.

I have to wonder whether the Toronto Raptors should have put their oar in the water in this transaction. Why Boston? The Raps have all kinds of intangible assets on their books, like Traded Player Exceptions. I would have enjoyed seeing Masai Ujiri as the facilitator in a deal such as this one, in which we could pile up more assets for future usage. Maybe we weren’t invited to the party, or we couldn’t lower our cap number in the short space of time Cleveland had to work with.

Anyway, the Celtics are further along in their rebuild than is perhaps appreciated. While I’m months away from offering my predictions for the ’14-’15 season, I’ve already mentally nudged Boston ahead of the floundering Knicks. If the Celtics retain hotheaded, brilliant guard Rajon Rondo, and a few of their kids, like Sullinger and Olynyk, step forward, Boston might be a playoff contender. I think they overpaid for smallish guard Avery Bradley, but he can shoot and defend. Jeff Green, who I used to be a big fan of, had a disappointing ’13-’14 season and will need to bounce back. If he doesn’t, Boston now has the depth to shove him to the bench.

Usually a rebuild takes several seasons, as Raps fans know all too well. Danny Ainge may be the rare GM who can take shortcuts in expediting Boston’s return to prominence.




Tags: Boston Celtics Toronto Raptors

  • Brandon J Williams

    I agree with you here. I think the celtics are a big trade or a year or two away from making real noise. Right now, with a healthy rondo, I do believe they can compete in the Atlantic. The development of Sullinger & olynyk is key to this though. Those two kids can ball.

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi Brandon:
      Sorry for late reply.
      Your “year or two” qualifier reflects my thinking. The Celtics are just behind the Raps in their rebuilding.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • Homph Gomph

    I wouldn’t say this year, but definitely somewhere down the road as long as they keep making smart moves.

  • idiosonic

    With Rondo he won’t need much to get to the playoffs in the east (he can turn bad players into good players). If Boston does get Evan Turner then they can have 3-4 15 point a game people (Bradley, Green, Turner and Rondo or Sully) That should be enough to get the the playoffs. Probably a lower seed as i still think Toronto is better. Not to mention Danny Ainge says Rondo will have a career best year, THAT would be scary. Imagine “Playoff Rondo” every night

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi idiosonic:
      What happened to Green last season? He wasn’t the same guy. Does he need Rondo that badly? Please let me know. Thx.

  • D_Original_X

    Is there any way the Celtics could trade for GGreg Monroe

    • Newmarket_Brian

      The market for Monroe is very slow. I don’t know why that is, but it’s one of the biggest free-agent-season surprises to me.
      If I were Danny Ainge, I’d keep rebuilding and leave Monroe for others.
      Thanks for commenting.

  • jlongs

    I believe the main thing Masai wants to do this off season is get back the players who contributed the most in last season’s success. He’s hoping we would instead grow internally, with every player getting better from the experience gained during the playoffs. I’m pretty sure, if this ends up not being the case, THEN he would start trading away guys. But until then it’s a wait and see. Our young guys need a chance to prove they are getting better before you ship them away, specially after a successful season.

  • Newmarket_Brian

    My apologies. Somehow your terrific response got enmeshed in our “Awaiting Approval” tab.
    I watched both videos with pleasure, so thanks for those, and for your explanation. It’s a shame Green hasn’t been able to take the next step. He may be one of those players who really needs excellent teammates to take the pressure off him. I hope the Celtics have patience with him.