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Predicting a Mediocre Future

In something that strikes me as equal parts fascinating, extremely relevant and wildly reckless, John Hollinger and Chad Ford have combined to create a sort of Future Power Rankings for the 30 NBA teams. They have rated the teams based on how they project them to perform from next season (2010-11) through 2012-13—a three-year span. 

The Celtics rank 12th. Welcome to the future. My advice: Enjoy the present. 

Relevant excerpt (Insider only):

With the exception of Rondo and role players Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis, the team is devoid of young talent that can build a bridge to the future. That explains why the Celtics are ranked just 17th in the players category, based on the how the current roster will look over the next few years.

My reaction is that Hollinger and Ford basically have the C’s pegged correctly. But…

One major trade could blow these entire rankings apart. As we’ve written before, the Rajon Rondo extension essentially locks the Celtics in with the current core roster for at least the the 2010-11 season, and likely longer, depending on the length of the extension/s the team give Ray Allen (a free agent after this season) and Paul Pierce (can opt out after this season; unrestricted free agent after 2011, barring an extension between now and then).

And KG’s current deal runs through 2012. One could look at all of this information and say the Hollinger/Ford rankings include the two last seasons of the Allen/KG/Pierce core and a third season that represents the C’s unknown future. And you might be right. 

But a lot can change between now and 2012. You can bet Danny Ainge and Co. are thinking ahead to 2012-13 already. They do not want to repeat the mistakes of the late 1980s/early 1990s and cling too long to past glories. Is it unreasonable/blasphemous to think that if Ainge finds an aging C’s team unable to truly contend in 2011-12, he’ll look hard at flipping one of the  Big Three (I think it’s safe to assume at least two will have expiring deals that season) to some contender willing to give the C’s a promising young piece and a first-round pick in return?

This is precisely what Portland reportedly thought about doing last season, when they (reportedly) discussed dealing some of the team’s young core for Vince Carter. 

What Hollinger and Ford have done is pretty amazing, when you think about it. It shows a deep understanding of the league, its teams, its collective bargaining agreement and its salary structure. To attempt a Future Rankings is equal parts folly and courage (and, I would suppose, pretty damn fun). 

But so much can change in an instant. Injuries could decimate this year’s Celtics team, and Ainge could decide to deal Ray Allen’s expiring contract to, say, Utah, in exchange for Paul Millsap, the expiring deals of Kyle Korver and Matt Harpring and a draft pick. (I’m completely making that up. See how easy it is?). 

Yes, the C’s appear locked into an aging core lacking upside. But the NBA is unpredictable.

  • Sophomore

    What might they be able to do next year if they let Ray Allen go and ask PP to restructure? That’s $20 million in salary to play with.

  • Jhou

    If you read their explanation, Hollinger and Ford promise to update the ranking periodically as trades/injuries/other unexpected things occur. Predicting the future is a risky business, especially when unexpected things happen. Being able to take a mulligan once in a while makes it easier (and more fun).

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  • Tom

    The Celtics doesn’t have $20M to play with unless Pierce opts out and sign a small contract (unlikely), they would also have to do a sign and trade with Ray since we are over the cap aleady.

  • http://vittoriodezen.wordpress.com Vic De Zen

    Who would have thought that the Clippers would find a taker for Zach Randolph? A TON of things can change in this league, very very very quickly. Great post.

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