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The One-Year Rebuild

I think Danny Ainge is going to try and recreate this team in a single year.

I suspect Boston’s goal is to come out of the summer of 2014 with two all-stars and a top-5 pick who could quickly blossom into one. That would give the Celtics three legitimate upper-tier talents and a quick return to the playoffs in the spring of 2015.

Here’s how things could unfold between now and the end of the 2014 free agency period:

1) The Celtics either dump or shift the perception of their large contracts.

Right now, the C’s are stuck with Gerald Wallace, Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass and, to a lesser extent, Jeff Green. Each has three years remaining on his contract except Bass, who has only two. All except Green seriously damaged his trade value with weak play last season. And as recently as the all-star break, even Green was widely considered a toxic asset.

Assuming none of these four guys are offloaded this summer, the 2013-14 season could be used to rehabilitate their value, even if they end up with superficially inflated numbers on what could be a terrible team. Wallace might actually be beyond salvaging considering the atrocious contract Brooklyn gave him last summer and his declining game, but if the Celtics can remove just one or two of the names from this list by next summer because they’ve played well enough to have positive — even marginally positive — trade value, that’s a win. If by next summer any of them are valuable enough to play key supporting roles on a title team, that’s a downright triumph.

2) Brad Stevens enhances the value of the remainder of Boston’s roster.

Avery Bradley had a mediocre year in 2012-13 and needs to bounce back. Jared Sullinger played well while healthy, but then immediately saw back problems undercut his value. MarShon Brooks is cheap and useful. Fab Melo is cheap but hopeless. Jordan Crawford is cheap but clueless. Kelly Olynyk is an unknown. Everyone else is an expiring contract or filler or Keith Bogans, who is going to end up with a three year deal for somewhere around $4-5 million per season. Which is distressing.

I think Boston’s goal and Stevens’ main focus will be to develop all of the guys above and, by extension, enhance their trade value. That gives Ainge a number of ways to deploy them come next summer: as trade pieces for other players, as assets to move up in the draft, as sweeteners to get another team to absorb a bad contract, or as carryover Celtics.

These guys should all get serious minutes next year. With any luck, there’s a chance for a couple of breakouts there, particularly in Bradley, who was asked to do too much last season and could be primed for a minor leap.

3) The Celtics lose many, many games. More than 60, if possible.

The Celtics made the right choice to tank in 2007 even if the end-result wasn’t what they’d hoped. This coming season, the incentive to lose is even larger than the Andrew Wiggins-size prize at the top of the 2014 draft. Depending on who you believe, there could be a half-dozen stars in the top-10 picks, which means even if you don’t move up in the lottery, if you can lose enough games, you can still snag one.

I know, I know. Losing on purpose sucks. Bemoan the incentive structure in the league all you want, but under this newly restrictive CBA, it’s more critical than ever to get production from superstars and guys on rookie-scale contracts. Preferably both in the same package. This is particularly true if you want to keep guys like Green around. You need to find efficiencies in your salary structure to make up for his contract.

There are a number of ways to find the 60 losses the Celtics should be targeting. Some of them are morally defensible (expansive use of younger guys at the expense of older, more competent players in the name of long term development). Others are not. But one way or another, the C’s must find ways to chock up up those L’s.


If the Celtics can accomplish the three things above, and land a top-5 pick in the process, they’re set to reload in the summer of 2014.

First, they draft a future star in the top five or six picks. I think we’re all comfortable with Ainge’s ability to find a difference maker given a pick that high and a draft that top heavy (as he has labeled it). Is it a sure thing the C’s find a star? No. But it’s as good a bet as any draft since 2003.

Second, they sign a star free agent or acquire one in trade. As bait for a sign and trade, they can offer any of the first round picks Ainge has been accumulating or any assets they’ve managed to “enhance” during the season.

(This second point assumes either the desirability of outgoing Celtics players or sufficient cap space to sign someone outright. Either works. That makes Kris Humphries ($12 million, expiring) a key piece. If the Celtics move him, they can’t take on additional years of salary. That also means the Celtics may seriously need to consider using the stretch provision to limit Wallace’s cap hit on the 2014-15 team).

Let’s assume both of the above items happen.

That would give the Celtics one budding star and one established star. For a total of two.

But at the beginning of this piece, I promised you three.

Which brings us to:

The Rajon Rondo Problem

Rondo’s still on a great contract and his regular season ambivalence aside, he is capable of being the first or second best player on a title team. Ideally, he would be that third star we’re looking for.

But Rondo could screw up this plan. He’s too much of a difference maker. If he’s ready for the first game of the season, his season-long impact could push the Celtics to a few extra wins — and the back end of the lottery. And as we’ve established, they need to lose.

Holding Rondo out until after the all-star break would be one consideration. But if he’s healthy, he’d never go for that. Does holding him out until early January give the Celtics enough of a chance to build a cushion against seasoned, professional losers like Charlotte and Sacramento? Maybe. But it’s risky.

There’s a real possibility Rondo could be moved and not because he and Stevens won’t play nice together. Rondo could be moved because the Celtics cannot afford him submarining their submarining of the 2013-14 season. If Boston truly intends to lose, you’ll see any return for Rondo include expiring contracts, draft picks and maybe a young asset that doesn’t move next season’s needle in terms of wins and losses. A Rondo trade could also include the departure of Bass or Lee. In any case, expect to be underwhelmed by the return.

And then — expect a ton of ghastly losses to ensue. Blowouts, blown leads, a whole season blown off.

Be ready for that pain.

But absent Rondo, and with a batch of draft picks and some flexibility, consider the Celtics roster in terms of the above plan.

This is what I think is being considered in the Celtics’ offices this summer:

One year of misery in exchange for a quick return to the playoffs and a renewed charge at banner #18.

  • kwaszar

    I realize the above is an accepted method, tried and sometimes true, but, I would feel just a little dishonest about this plan, or any plan that required any of the various 'tanking' methods I've heard over the past few weeks. Aside from the unpredictable nature of the lottery (I don't like that kind of gambling) and the unsure nature of high draft picks and how they will or won't work out in the NBA, I hate the idea of the team, any team, wanting to be bad. Frankly, I'd rather see the Celtics work hard, play hard, win what they can through whatever talent they might possess, and have Ainge and Stevens and the rest of the front office do their job at rebuilding by using the picks they have, trading the right players, build around our beloved, mercurial, unpredictable point guard if they can, and trade him if they can't. I'd like to see Stevens show us what he can do, and get better at what he can't do with the nest available team Ainge can put "on the bus.". Does it take more time? I'm sure it will. Will it be painful? No doubt. But I would rather see the team come out of a three year rebuild accomplished through hard work, smart trades, and integrity, than a one year tank, even if successful, which is a crap shoot at best, and which would make me feel just a little dirty, and … a little less in love with the Celtics. Beyond basketball itself, I am a teacher, and I don't care for the message tanking sends to the
    young basketball fans in my group. Integrity counts. And the process you use to get there is important. I have high hopes that Stevens knows this, and Danny, too. I've little doubt I'll get blasted for this opinion. So be it.

    • Derron

      I'm in strong agreement with you.

    • Matt

      Here's one person that won't blast you, I agree with you, integrity counts, unfortunately a lot of people in this world forget with integrity and character stand for. I too rather wait the 3 years and be proud of Banner 18 then win banner 18 in 2015 with dirty tactics.

    • Vincent

      While I appreciate your insistence upon integrity, the NBA is not the real world. The business has established a model that rewards a ton of losses, and punishes mediocrity. The NBA draft is vastly different than drafts for any other sport, as so few NBA drafted players have star potential.

      In the current system established by the NBA and the Player's Association, there's huge upside to tanking, and huge downside to getting the 14th pick in the draft. There's almost no other situation in life or other business that's comparable, so its not as if losing purposely in the NBA is going to taint Stevens, Ainge, or any player. Just my two cents, especially since I don't want to wait another 10 yrs to have a good team.

      • Kwaszar

        I appreciate the lucidity of your comment, and accept the truth of it, up to the second to last statement. I think it does taint anything and everything that takes part in it knowingly. That the NBA as a parent organization is already tainted, I concede, but that is no valid reason for the Celtics to wallow in this particular quagmire. If it takes ten years, I'll live with that and cheer them all the way. I don't think it will.

      • Steve

        Here's the problem… this isn't true. Most teams that suck, continue to suck. I don't usually like Dave Berri's articles, but this is a good one on the "Lottery Treadmill": http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/06/05/michael-jo

        The Bobcats and Kings have been running on this for years, while teams such as the Pacers and Rockets have started to move up, not because of top five or even top ten picks, but by skillful maneuvering. The lottery is a crapshoot and willingly placing yourself down there could backfire into five or ten years of terrible teams. Even if this draft is loaded, there's bound to be at least one Darko in there (not to mention that the original teams don't even have LeBron, Carmelo, or Bosh anymore). Most of the top teams in the league (with the exception of the Thunder and Clippers) got where they are through consistently good decisions in free agency, via trades, and smart late draft picks. I like the moves Danny has made recently, I hope that the next one isn't trading Rondo or "tanking."

        As for the "huge downside" of the 14th pick, there is always quality available late:
        2011. Kawhi Leonard (15), Iman Shumpert (17), Kenneth Faried (22)
        2010. Larry Sanders (15), Eric Bledsoe (18), Lance Stephenson (40)
        2009. Jrue Holiday (17), Ty Lawson (18), Jeff Teague (19), Taj Gibson (26)

  • david

    Why does everyone want rondo gone what have he done, other then help boston win a title and cater to doc, kg, the turth, and allen. Every good thing come to an end like the big 3 now its rondo turn and no one wants to give him a chance. Everyone wants to tank but remember the last time boston did that what happen didnt get a top 5 pick tanking doesnt guarantee anything give rondo a chance this year if he doesn't live up to it then trade him don't throw dirt on him now no was when he help boston get the finals in 08 and 10 this man is a 4 time all star I don't see any other all star get treated like him what happened to the Celtics pride stand behind your Celtics player #teamrondo #celticspride

  • Derron

    First of all, I almost stopped reading when you said Fab was cheap and hopeless. You lost a who lot of credibility right there as that showed me you may not know much about analyzing players based on their strengths . Secondly you wrote in a paradox sense where on one hand we're suppose to do bad yet on another we're suppose to increase the trade value for the guys we have under contract. Now I don't know if this Wiggins kid is the next LBJ, the next MJ or the next Kwame Brown, but I don't think he or anyone in his draft is worth ruining the name and integrity of a franchise for. And saying we'd make a charge to banner 18 with whom ever is nothing but mere speculation, because as we all know the wonder boy LBJ never won a title with Cavs.
    Now bare in mind that Stevens aim right now is to start off his career on a high and develop players. Now kindly remind me how that's possible if you take a dive in games…..? The only thing I will agree with you on is that we need to unload some of these contracts by early mid-season or at any best possible time which is hopefully sooner than later.
    Unless Jared and Rondo don't make it back as scheduled, then and only then will I think we be going towards having a bad season if Lee/Bradley can't be productive at the point. I honestly see a team of fighters and though we have more role players than "stars" I know with the right chemistry and pre-season training they'll amount to much more than you're saying because they aren't bottom of the barrel players. And should we really sign Luigi Datome, I think we'd going to make a good run at that #8 spot at worst. I could go on to further break what's necessary for us, but I'll stop here.

    • Vincent

      Fab Melo is 7 feet tall and can't play basketball. No one is suggesting that players lose games by purposely missing free throws or committing intentional turnovers. But, you field a team capable of losing 60 games by having a weak roster. Fab Melo getting 35 mins a game ought to guarantee the 3rd pick in the draft.

      • Derron

        Can't? See this again is where I disagree. There's a big gap between can't and not as good as the rest. I felt last season that in the D-League and at Syracuse both coaches got production out of him. I know "Doc doesn't use rookies," but if he was half the coach you people made him out to be, he would have been able to do the same.

        • Vincent

          OK fine, he can play basketball, he's just not good at it. Doc Rivers or Phil Jackson couldn't make me into an NBA player, and I doubt either could magically transform Fab Melo into anything more than a third string center in the NBA.

  • roadsidenotes

    If they want to tank, they hired the wrong coach.

  • Let'sGoHeat

    They could've hired a crappy coach for this year, fired him after a terrible season, then hired Brad Stevens next year

    • Vincent

      Why not hire a potentially good coach while you can? Firing a coach after one season usually means a very expensive buyout, on top of what you'd pay Stevens the following year – assuming he's still available. Your plan, like your name, is stupid.

  • Mencius

    Ryan, I'm almost in complete agreement with your entire post, right down to trading Rondo. The one quibble I have with it is that rehabbing the productive vets image and trade value means playing them more minutes, and probably leads to more wins. If we are having a 'developmental year', we're going to have to play the kids A LOT, and that won't rehab the vets trade value, but that's okay. Playing the kids (and racking up L's) is a higher priority than rehabbing the productive vets trade value). Otherwise, great article, and I think it should be (and hopefully is) the strategy that Ainge will want to pursue.

  • hax

    1) Sullinger has already made it public knowledge that the PLAYERS will not tank and will push as hard with their celtics pride as they can.

    2) Those Butler teams had 1-2 good players tops, only Mack has made the NBA and he is a heavy benchwarmer. Brad is great at coming up with gameplans to keep a low talent team in the game. He makes plays for late shot clock baskets, so twice as much time runs out than normal offenses you see. That is twice as much time the other team doesn't have the ball to run up the score on your team. Then he teaches defense and energy. I expect a lot of low scoring games that are even harder grinds than what we've seen in recent play-off years. But he can make any team at least competitive. We have Rondo & Green to take over in crunch time, we've seen clutch plays by both.

    3) Stiemsma just got let go by the T'Wolves. I want to see Olynyk develop and flourish, but Steamer could be a nice back-up. We don't want our new seven footer running 40 minute games now.

    4) This team nearly won the championship 2 seasons ago. We didn't go far due to injuries this year. All we've done is put Jeff Green in PP's spot(he has shown he is quite capable, especially if he develops/recovers a lot more this season) and Olynyk for KG(can shoot outside better, his defense will be as good as Steven's coaching.) Keep in mind we tanked the last 4 regular seasons, so you can't just say 'we sucked, barely making playoffs wit these guys. We were 500 the last 4 seasons except for post-all star break pushes rocketing up the weak east ladder. And we have huge depth, whether you like them or not. Humphries, Wallace, Lee, Randolph, Brooks, etc. Not saying we will, but this team could definately make the playoffs. I think we will.

    5) Nonetheless, Wallace-Lee-Bass need to go. A Rondo trade shouldn't happen without all of them being dumped. By trade deadline, all three should be trade-able. Maybe not for anything good, but the salaries gone is good enough.

    • CG12

      Gordon Hayward?

  • yogesh

    What a delusional, simple-minded, ill-conceived plan. Embarrassing. It's as if a five year old with low self-esteem and a belief in Santa Clause wrote this article. Rondo, Bradley, Green, Sullinger and Olynyk is our core. Lee, Brooks/Crawford, Wallace, Bass, Randolph/Melo/Iverson is our bench. Everyone else is essentially expiring. If the right deal comes up, Danny will trade anyone. But there is no reason to move any of those players.

  • Bobby

    Really blows my mind when people just give up on their team and players

    We can be good this year and gain playoff experience for our cor.

    Olynyk might be the real deal and a steal.

    Green rondo and Bradley will make us good. 60 losses? Seriously? Well prob win 45 and be a playoff team. Wallace can ressurect and Humphries will go all out since hell be playing for a new contract.

    You do know Wallace can score 15 a night right?
    You do known Green can score 15 a night right?
    You do know Bradley can score 10 a night right?
    You do know Rondo can give you a triple dbl any given game right?
    You do know humprhies can give you 10 and 10 a night right????

    Point is were a good team still!!

    • Josh_5

      I will bet you $100 that we lose 50+ games.

    • dslack

      Celtics won 41 this past year, with Pierce and KG. You think they'll win 4 more games this coming year? I'd be quite surprised.

    • Vincent

      Wallace can resurrect? Why not bring back Semih Erden as he can score 50 points a night, too. You're delusional. If Rondo could give you a triple double any given game, he'd have a few more, don't ya think?

    • MattinRoanoke

      That's 60 points a night. Is that enough to win?

  • Ryan

    1000 words to say the plan is to tank and hope for the best?

    Nah, if you think the Cs can rebuild in a year then Rondo and Jeff Green have to be a part of the process. You just can't turn over the team to a 19 year old superstar (if you get lucky in the lottery/draft) and free agent player X and expect anything better than more losing. You realize that vets win in this league, right?

    Here's the plan: build around Rondo/Green/Sully/Bradley/Olynyk. Make Wallace useful by incorporating an uptempo offense. Build value around Brooks, Melo, and possibly Crawford, then look to move them. Find a way to cut salary by trading Lee and Bass. Dangle Hump at the deadline. Take future picks and cap space and find an all-star free agent next summer. Compete for playoffs in 2014-2015 but be ready to pounce on last piece with remaining picks and young players if opportunity arises.

  • Bobby

    As KG said, anythings possible!!!!

  • JStokes1313

    There seems to be two groups of people: those who see the team (as is) as getting 40-45 wins and making some noise in the first round, and those who see it as 20 wins if they're lucky. My guess is the reality probably lies somewhere in the middle (29-32 win range).

    Rondo is a giant wild card. On the one hand, he's proven to be able to win games single-handedly, he's somewhere in the top 15 of overall players at his peak, and he makes everyone around him better. On the other, he's coming off an ACL tear, and those take time to come back from even after full healing them – Adrian Peterson is the exception, not the rule. He also hasn't had a string of 5 truly all-star level games in who knows how long. It will be interesting to see what he can do now that the HoFers are gone. I would have him take as much time as possible before coming back, then seeing what he can do for a month before trading him. If he can become the player we all hope he can be, there's no reason to get rid of him.

    As for the rest of the team, if you think Olynyk-Sullinger-Green-Bradley is enough of a supporting cast to get you to 45 wins, I have a bridge to sell you. Green is a great #3 or 4 option, not a #1, and that's when he's on his game, which we have no real proof he can do consistently. Olynyk had one good summer league game – I'm as thrilled about his scoring ability as any, but he's a giant negative on defense. Sully has back issues, and we saw what that did to Dwight for a year (amongst other reasons, but that's another story). Bradley took a step back, so who knows where he ends up. I think as is, they are definitely better than Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee in the east, maybe Orlando too, but after that? Giant mess of young teams in the same boat as them. To me, that's 30 wins, give or take a few depending on how quickly Stevens adjusts to the pro game.

    • Phil

      Something you're leaving out of the 20 win camp (which I'm a part of,) the team isn't done making moves yet. I assume the front office knows they're in the 30 win range right now, and they'll do something to fix that.

      I wouldn't try to convince the 40 win people though. Do you go up to kids and tell them Santa Claus isn't real? Let them hold on to the magic a little longer.

      • JStokes1313

        I definitely agree, that post was under the assumption they stay as is, which I don't necessarily think will happen. It all depends on Rondo – you could present any possible situation for him for this year (trade, NBA First Team, locker room blow-up, sit out the year or part of it, et al) and I could realistically see it happening. That's going to affect the record more than anything else.

        And I'm not trying to get people to abandon hope – in general I'm going to watch as many games as I can and hope they win every single one. We have some very nice pieces for the future, and if those players become our 4-7th guys, then I am stoked for the future. But a playoff team, barring Rondo going insane, they are not.

        • Phil

          The thing that confuses me about the overly optimistic predictions for this year is how much they just flippantly ignore the contributions of Pierce and KG. The defense fell apart when KG sat last year (I think 10 points worse per 100 possessions last year,) and Pierce was the go to guy on offense, and handled key scoring and distributing roles. They did nothing to replace those guys, and they only won a little over 40 games with them.

          I guess those people are just wearing green glasses and not looking at facts, but I respect Pierce and KG way too much to expect this team to be anything close to what it was last year.

          Agreed with Rondo being the story. I hated how he played last year pre-injury, but I also have a feeling I could hate how he plays this year in a different way. Part of me would be surprised if he played a major role on this team though, given their obvious tanking intention. If they don't trade him before the year, maybe they showcase him as healthy before the deadline and trade him then. I doubt they'll let him win them an extra handful of games.

    • CG12

      Green is emphatically NOT a #3 or 4 option. Green is your #1 or #2 scorer, or else what is the point? He isn't a complementary guy, he is a player who needs the ball and shots in order to get it going. When he was slotted behind PP and KG (and Rondo) in the C's offensive hierarchy, he looked terrible because he couldn't play with confidence and authority. When he knows he is okay to take the ball to the hoop in transition and miss sometimes, and is allowed to post up smaller guys, that is when he has the best facets of his game working. Jeff Green is far and away the best scorer on this team right now. It isn't close.

      • Phil

        You just hit the Green nail on the head; he's not a #3 or #4 on a good team, he's a #1 or a #2 on a team playing for the worst record in the league.

      • JStokes1313

        I agree Green is a guy who needs to get involved early to be effective, but coming off the bench last year was what hurt Green at the beginning of last year, not deferring to KG and PP. I'd argue that the attention paid to those two is what helped Green settle into his role. Being a #1 or #2 option on a team means you can go 1v1 versus almost anyone, get the shot you want, and score a majority of the time. I have absolutely no faith in Green to do that. To me, he was at his best when Pierce or Guard X could hit him on the move, or when he spot up for the corner 3, both of which he became VERY good at. I'd agree with you he's our best scorer right now, but that speaks more to the state of the team. If Green has to be THE guy on a consistent basis, that's not a playoff team.

        • CG12

          I like Green as a lead scorer on pretty much any team. I would say that he has indeed shown that he can score on most anyone, and is best when he is on the ball. He has a very diverse offensive game, and I think he may have more than he has shown (we saw hints in the second half of last year). But he clearly isn't the kind of guy who is going to be an overall team leader, so I would like the C's to have a true lead dog who is the #1 guy and could build a bond with Green. But I do believe that Green can be an elite scorer on a top team.

  • BeanMan

    One of the reasons I want to move Rondo for an unprotected pick next year is in order to potentially double-dip into this lottery pool. Another reason: Without Rondo on the team, we are virtually guaranteed at least one lottery pick in what may prove to be the strongest draft in NBA history. If we trade Rondo to a perennial loser, it increases our odds of ending up with two lottery picks.

    Besides, is it really "tanking" if you're playing young players who are working their hearts out as they develop their professional game? Is it really "tanking" when your wiz coach is getting his feet wet in the NBA in the process? Is it really "tanking" if we're giving young players playing time they would not otherwise get? One or two of those young guys might blossom into the next Pierce, Rondo, Garnett or Allen.

    I want our C's heading into each game with the belief, "we're going to do our best to win." If we have a young, inexperienced team, we're still going to lose a lot but you never know when they'll give us some exciting moments. And let's not forget that losing is a character-building process. We'll quickly find out who has character and who does not.

    I'll definitely take one or two shots in the lottery of the strongest draft in recent history over another loss in the first-round of the playoffs!

    • Vincent

      What team is going to give up an unprotected first for Rondo? Even if they would, with Rondo wouldn't they be far more likely to be drafting in the 20s? Or you think there's a team that really sucks that wants a $12m veteran over a top 5 lottery pick making 25% of that and under their control for longer? if there's a GM in the league that stupid, their owner would fire them before they approved your delusional trade.

      Why not suggest trading Rondo for LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh straight up?

      • BeanMan

        One word: Charlotte. They'll fall for anything. They think they're destined for the playoffs, and would surely jump at the opportunity to add Rondo, but they're likely headed towards another lottery pick.

        • BeanMan

          You need to find a team that thinks they're playoff-bound that you think is lottery-bound, regardless of whether or not they have Rondo. Then you make the gamble. Obviously Toronto and Orlando are not who I am talking about. I am thinking more along the lines of Charlotte, maybe Washington, maybe Dallas (one injury to Dirk and that team is going to lose a lot of games regardless of whether they have Rondo), etc.

          • BeanMan

            *Milkwaukee, not Washington. I always mix up the two.

          • BeanMan

            Just a hunch, but I think Dallas may give us unprotected picks in 2013 and 2014 in exchange for Rondo and one of our future picks. Cuban is not happy about being blown off by Howard. He desperately wants to make a splash right now, and Rondo may be his ticket. Maybe they would even take a toxic contract or two off our hands?

          • Phil

            Dallas has already signed Calderon to start and Harris to back up at PG, they're out of the Rondo sweepstakes.

            I'd never rule out Charlotte doing something dumb (Al jeffersohahahahah!) but I'd be surprised if the Cs got a lottery pick this year for Rondo. Between his contract and his age (not old, but you expect him to start declining in a couple years,) he's much more likely to be targeted by a contender.

          • JStokes1313

            Let's say they trade Rondo to Charlotte or Milwaukee for, among other things, a '14 pick. If Rondo is operating even at 80% of peak efficiency, that team is going to probably finish in the low-end of the lottery or bottom of playoff standings. I get that the draft is once-in-a-generation good this year, but is the talent you're getting in the 10-15 range going to be as good or better than an in-his-prime Rondo? It's possible, but far short of a guarantee. And if you're of the mindset that Rondo won't even help them that much, then you might as well keep him and be terrible yourself.
            If he shows early on he's going to be a locker-room problem, then by all means get rid of him, but I'd honestly rather hold onto him and see what happens. It's a weird balancing act with him, people forget how good he actually can be.

          • Phil

            No one's saying they should trade Rondo for just a 1st rounder. Presumably they would have to dump at least one bad contract in the deal, and probably two. A deal like that accelerates the time frame when you can get under the cap and start adding assets through free agency/lopsided trades. The price for dumping a one year contract is usually a late first rounder, there is no price for dumping a contract like Wallace because no one would pay it normally.

            Part of the assumption with trading Rondo is that if you're trading him, you don't expect him to be a part of your future. The Cs know how good he can be, but they have to question how good he will be in three years on a max contract. If they don't like that answer, they should trade him whenever they can get the most for him, whenever that is.

  • BeanMan

    The philosophy: Short-term pain for long-term gain.


    This is completely off-topic, but is it me or does Brad Stevens looks very similar to Brandon Routh from Superman Returns or a white Shane Battier?

    Back on topic, next year will be an interesting year to say the least. BS The Second (BS The First = Bill Simmons), will have to learn the "NBA way", despite being a successful college coach. I like the fact that he is a hard worker and seems to genuinely love the game — hard work always pays off in the end, and I know he will make strides because he seems quick on his feet and seems to adapt well. We have a lot of spring chickens on our roster, and it will be a lot easier to work with them and get their respect than some of the "veterans" on this team, but I hope everyone buys into to his philosophy, because his pyramid to success is similar or fashioned after the great John Wooden (one of my all time fav.). It is very value and team orientated, which is exactly what this team needs to build on, because we don't have the superstars to lean on. Brad, I have a feeling, will make this re-building process a lot less painful and faster than it would have taken under Doc, and I believe Ainge and Brad will work together well to put together the right pieces to make us competitive in the near future. Hope Brad bring along his stats guru, Drew Cannon, to the Celtics staff!

  • TJBrown

    Too many variabes in your plan any number of which could break the scenario down. The simple truth is the C's roster as it will stand after the Nets trade is good enough to make the playoffs. There are ways to hold the number of wins down – delaying the return of Rondo and Sulinger, lots of roster movement to prevent the team from gettng into a rhythm, hiring an inexperienced coach (Stevens) who will learn on the job. We will know the direction of the team by the player moves AFTER the trade with the NEs is completed. They will have approximately 14 players under guaranteed contract and another 5-6 they must make decisions on. The summer is too young to make bold predictions about the course of the team / franchise. I do believe they are looking at a quick rebuild / reload, but am not convinced they intend to follow the formula you suggest they will.

  • Celtic Crusher

    Bostonians are stupid! Perfect example: We will tank next year, lose 60+ games, get Wiggins & then win the next 10 years in a row. Go win another asterisk title.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$******************** ENOUGH SAID!

    • CG12

      That's a pretty good plan, actually.

    • JStokes1313

      I have absolutely no idea what that even means.

  • Phil

    A one year rebuild is unrealistic. You're basically proposing trading every bad contract for expirings in the next 18 months, all while they play well enough to improve their value yet still lose, 'and' having all of the prospects reach their ceilings. I'm curious what marquee free agent the Cs are supposed to sign next year as well. If there's a way to turn Gerald Wallace, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass into LaMarcus Aldridge, I'd say you're asleep and dreaming.

    This team isn't signing anyone in free agency until 2015-16 when the bad contracts start coming off the books. They may trade Rondo before then to dump some of those contracts, but even then, the goal won't be to lose for just one year. This is the Thunder model. They didn't get to where they are with one lottery pick, they drafted Durant, then sucked again for Westbrook, then sucked AGAIN and got Harden and Ibaka. I hope the front office doesn't expect to turn this around in a year, because we'll be bad for a long time if they do.

    • hax

      I disagree on Green. If he is our starting SF this year, I foresee him averaging 20+ ppg easily. Which catapults him into Top 25 Territory with any other high scorers. He nearly died, his motivation is through the roof, and he knows this is his chance to shine.

      • Phil

        I agree that Green could easily average 20+ per game, but my reasons are a lot more pejorative. He's on a team that's going to be losing where he can put up empty stats. His career to this point tells us that that's the situation where he thrives the most.

        If it turns him into an asset, great. Unfortunately, Ainge has already proven that he's in love with the guy, and if he gets a max contract (or close,) from the Celtics, all of this rebuilding is for nothing.

        That's my biggest fear of the next five years. All the losing could be for nothing if the Green saga plays out the wrong way. You just can't build a championship contender with over a third of your cap space tied up in a player who's not worth it. Just look at the Knicks with Amare.

  • Josh_5

    Every time I dwell on the fact that KG and Pierce aren't Celtics anymore, I feel like a child that wakes up in the middle of the night crying from nightmares. Excuse me while I go watch their old YouTube videos and eat a whole tub of ice cream.

  • Phil

    On an unrelated note, the Cs Summer League team is tearing the Pistons apart right now. 30-9 after the first.

    • Phil

      Tony Mitchell chase down block!

      I'd definitely watch a Tony Mitchell against Tony Mitchell one on one game.

      • JStokes1313

        If one of them blocked the other like that, I think the space-time continuum would collapse on itself.

    • Phil

      6 point win! I didn't think they were gonna pull out that fourth quarter point, but they did. Kudos to Summer League for making the score actually matter in the fourth quarter of a 30 point game by the way.

  • Phil

    Not specific to the Celtics, but why do people act like the NBA rewards tanking/losing disproportionately? The NBA is actually the 'least' kind to tanking teams among major American professional sport leagues. Having the most losses gets you a 25% chance shot at a top pick. Just look at Charlotte, you can be historically terrible for years at a time and have nothing to show for it. If this were the NFL, they'd have a couple #1 picks by now.

    The only difference is that the top picks in the NBA draft are more important than the top picks in other drafts. If you're picking at 10 in the NBA, you're probably not getting anyone great.

    I kind of liked the all non playoff teams with equal chances in the lottery model, but the only other option aside from that is just abolishing the draft and having all incoming players be free agents. Neither of which make getting out of the basement that feasible if you ask me.

    • hydrofluoric

      You answered your own question. The ability of a single player in basketball to affect a game is disproportionate – see Kobe 62, Mavericks 61; Wilt Chamberlain with 100; LeBron with 45/15/5 last year.

      The marginal wins added by a superstar in the NBA is by far the greatest of any sport.

    • CG12

      Great point. Going full tank in the NBA is hard, and not necessarily that rewarding. The C's last genuine tanking effort was a complete failure. That's why the quick rebuild makes some sense. Hand the keys to the young guys, who won't be great and will be overwhelmed at times, but will get a ton of valuable reps that will benefit them down the line. Get a pick in the low teens, and package that with some other picks from the stockpile to move up to 5, 6, 7 range, where the chances of getting a difference-maker are vastly improved, especially in a stacked draft. This can definitely work, but you should also feel free to make travel plans during the NBA playoffs next year.

      • hydrofluoric

        The last tank effort yielded Ray Allen… and getting Ray Allen made Kevin Garnett amenable to coming to Boston.

        1997 ended in complete failure, but 2007 seemed to work out alright.

        • CG12

          I don't think 2006 and the subsequent acquisition of the New Big Three was the result of an intentional tanking plan. They had PP and 'Toine for much of that time, and had some pretty good teams (2002 ECF?). They had a lot of young, decent, players that they got without a high draft pick, culminating in the #5 pick that got J. Green and then Ray Allen. That isn't textbook tanking, by a long stretch.

  • hydrofluoric

    I don't think it's necessarily wearing green-tinted glasses to foresee a playoffs appearance in the 7-8 seed range. I mean, look at the East. The top is crowded – Miami, Indiana, Brooklyn, New York, Chicago. After that, Washington is very likely to make it this year, and maybe Atlanta? We know that Philly and Orlando are aggressively tanking, and that Charlotte's best efforts aren't leading them into the playoffs this year. That leaves Cleveland, Milwaukee, Toronto, and Detroit. None of those screams 'playoff team' to me.

    Don't forget that when we limped in with 40 wins last year, several of our role players played way worse than they were projected – Bass, Lee, Green (for half the year), Terry, Crawford… Paul Pierce and KG will be gone taking their combined 60mpg with them, but in their place we might see increased production from those guys if Stevens can extract it from them. Now granted 35-40 wins is a real dangerous place to be, but it's a realistic possibility given the East and the fact that our late picks (Rondo, Bradley, Sully) have looked solid.

    • Phil

      Opposing offensive rating with KG on the floor last year: 99.3 With KG on the bench: 108.3

      That latter mark is at the bottom of the league, and it'll be the norm this year. They're replacing KG with an interesting prospect in Olynyk, but one who has question after question on the defensive end. You're swapping out maybe the biggest defensive positive in the league with a giant negative. That defensive drop alone is enough to cost the Cs 10 wins.

      Pierce's effect on the offense was huge as well, just look at what happened when he broke down at the end of the year.

      That doesn't speak at all to the effect they had on the team's heart. No role player variation is replacing them.

      As far as the eastern conference, Cleveland is finishing no worse than the 6th spot (they have a good team right now, plus they're adding real players with their cap space,) and Milwaukee, Detroit, Atlanta and Toronto will all be comfortably around .500, and maybe higher considering the tanking teams. The Cs are one of those tanking teams as well, so they won't be trying for a .500 record. The players may want to, but front office holds the cards.

      • hydrofluoric

        1. KG's impact: No question about KG's impact, but looking at this chart: http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/teamstats/_/orde

        Shouldn't the on-court/off-court #s for KG (who played roughly 50% of available minutes last season) average out basically to the overall #, 100.4? Let me know if I'm missing anything here, or if you're using a different metric for points per possession.

        And again, don't forget that KG played only 50% of available minutes once you account for the fact he missed a bunch of games too.

        2. Yes, the Knicks murdered the Celtics offense running through Pierce. But that was the playoffs, where you game-plan for a single team for two gut-wrenching weeks. That doesn't happen in the regular season. Oh yeah, and that happened without our best offensive player.

        3. While I agree with the heart issue in theory, I think there was some breakdown last year in terms of that. The chemistry of last year's team was absolutely NOTHING compared to 2012. Guys like Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling, and Greg Stiemsma really jelled with PP/KG, and those are instances where I'd say their leadership/heart made their teammates play better (in terms of quantifying 'heart,' which I guess we're trying to do here). But Courtney Lee, Bass, and Terry all played *worse* than how we expected them to play – and Jeff Green routinely played his best basketball when KG was absent entirely. So I'm a bit skeptical that the team's on-court product will miss PP/KG's leadership that much (though as a fan, obviously I will miss them dearly).

        4. I think you're begging the question by saying that all of those teams will be around .500 because of tanking teams and that the Celtics will definitely be tanking. How can that many Eastern Conference teams be at .500 level? That would leave like 4 'bad' teams in the East (Philly, Orlando, Charlotte, Boston) – and by definition, the East basically needs at least 6 bad teams due to how strong the West is.

        • Phil

          1. I was using Basketball Reference's on/off numbers, but the specific stats aren't as important as the anecdotal fact that KG 'was' the Celtic defense. The only plus defenders on the Celtics last year were KG, Pierce and Bradley (Rondo should be, but he wasn't last year.) Bradley isn't doing it by himself next year. You need a great defensive big to anchor any defense, and the Cs don't have anyone close to that level. I like Sully as a prospect, but to expect him to match even half of KG's impact is unfair. This Celtics team is going to struggle to defend anyone. It's gonna be ugly.

          2. We don't know how long the Cs will be without their best offensive player this year. He may come back uninterested early, he may be held out for a "cautious" recovery for most of the year, he may be traded. The offense ran fine through Pierce for a lot of those 40 or so wins last year. My point about the Knicks series is that could end up being what happens all regular season without him.

          3. The heart isn't improving next year. The Cs aren't gonna bring in locker room guys like Pietrus and Dooling, and there's gonna be a huge wave of negativity surrounding this team from the start. Just look at Sully already having to field questions about tanking and losing. This is one area where you really can't quantify with stats, but I believe that Pierce and KG meant a ton to this team, and I don't think that's replaceable in any way.

          4. I haven't broken down team by team numbers, but I assume the Cs are giving up about 20 wins, and the Sixers are giving up around 15 as well. Milwaukee and Toronto are going to stay around where they were last year (I don't think Toronto will make the playoffs, but I don't think they'll tank,) and the wins from the Celtics and Sixers will go mostly to Cleveland and some to Detroit. The western conference isn't a huge factor since the east only plays a couple games against them, and there are bad teams out there to play too .

  • I_Love_Green

    What everyone is failing to realize is that Jeff Green, Jeff the Young Gawd Green, is about to take over this league. Seriously. He's be going to be dropping 28 points a night shooting 50-40-90% from the field, 3, and free throw, he's going to average around 6 rebounds, and also average around 6 assists. LOOK OUT LEAGUE HERE COMES THE GAWD JEFF GREEN*

    *This post contains a bit of sarcasm and exaggeration, but I do believe Green will improve vastly.

  • Rjd123

    I agree with you on many points, except on your hesitation of Jeff Green. He is a stud and he showed it when he got consistent playing time. No way that is a bad contract. We are not trading him. He can be the third best player on a top team. There are (subject to change with the NCAA season) at least 6 possible franchise players in the 2014 draft. If we can get in the top 6 and trade the expiring contracts, (tpe from Garnett?), and some of our picks for a big time player at the trade deadline or next off-season, then this team has a VERY bright future. Rondo, Green, awesome lotto pick, Sully, Olynyk (who knows if he'll pan out but the kids got some skills), Sully, and a potential big name player….That's a one year rebuild and I think what Danny has in mind. The timing of it is also important because that gives us time to re-sign Rondo after 2014 season.

    • Rjd123

      didn't mean to write Sully twice, but maybe he's just that darn good… :)

  • oldutican

    So you think the Celts should get rid of the one proven winning star player on the team in hopes of drafting a 19-year-old kid whom you hope will become a star? No one is too good to be traded, so I wouldn't oppose trading Rondo for the right package that includes proven talent that exceeds his value to Celts. But trading him to tank is both a bush move and foolish risk.

  • BeanMan

    Rondo has not proven anything without Pierce and KG on his team. I love the guy and have enjoyed watching him grow, but I am unconvinced he is THE "winning star player" who will lead us to banner #18. I am inclined to support trading him if it means another unprotected first-round pick next year coupled with the dumping of some toxic contracts we have on the books (or something along these lines). I would like to be in a advantageous position for both the 2014 draft and free agency. The more I think about it, the more I see trading Rondo as the only possible way to get into such a position. If we were to somehow land two picks in the top seven or eight picks, we would be in one heck of a good place this time next year and beyond. The 2014 draft is that strong.

  • anfernee

    I hate the doubt of Jeff green.he dropped 45 points on the best team.he had a few game winners and shined in the playoffs unlike Pierce.I think he could be a star maybe lets see.but one things for sure he can score.Rondo is a 4 time all star with lots to prove.don’t be supised to see him get better at shooting and prove haters wrong.plunked is a steal and one of the best drafts and can contribute right away.Avery Lee. And bass know how they did last season and will work hard to do better.I say 7th to 8th seed and make noise in the playoffs.

  • bill lamotte

    Why is every other celtic fan assuming were going to be horrible this year?And why is everybody assuming we have to be terrible this year to get any better in the future? Rondo is top3 pointguard,a perfect player to build a team around,hes an established winner and hes still young-Sullinger was a draft day steal and if he comes back healthy,hes only going to get better as willAvery Bradley-Early indications are that Olynuk could also be a steal as well-Marshon Brookes isin his what third year,and although had an offyear last year thats mainly due to the presence of Joe Johnson-You add Jeff Green to the mix and Stevens as coach a guy who has proven that he can do alot more with alot less and proven it more than once and i have a hard time believing that the Celts have to lose now to get better later- the lottery usually ends up proving nothing- i see Ainges moves as a way of stockpiling trade assetts so as to trade for veteran stars,or to sign free agent stars of which there will be many in 2014-the same way he brought in Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, i dont see him wanting to add a bunch of rookies to this team which is very young to begin with unlessthey are the “next big thing”,and. I dont think they are going to be bad enough to be in that kind of drafting position-

  • Right, the celtics lose many, many games but is time to win one!