Very rarely does an NBA team undergo a complete overhaul in one offseason.
Therefore, it was entirely unexpected that the Boston Celtics, who played in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, would completely change their roster this summer.
While acquiring Kyrie Irving in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two draft picks was a blockbuster trade, Boston previously sent Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris in order to create the cap space to sign free agent star Gordon Hayward to a max deal. In addition to those huge moves, the team signed veteran center Aron Baynes in free agency, took Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in the 2017 Draft and will likely welcome last year’s draft-and-stash selection Guerschon Yabusele to the mix this season.
Some combination of Kadeem Allen, Jabari Bird, Shane Larkin, Abdel Nader, Semi Ojeleye, L.J. Peak, Daniel Theis and Andrew White III will join returning players Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier on the active roster.
Therefore, it will essentially be an entirely new team in Boston this year, which apparently is not what the team set out to do after last year’s success.
“This isn’t any sort of plan like we wanted to make a whole bunch of changes — part of it is just managing payroll and getting guys to fit on the court, just building a team,” Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“It’s not about getting rid of somebody or bringing new faces in, but in the world we live in today you have a salary cap and a luxury tax and there are short contracts that are attached. When I played, I signed a six-year contract. Now, most contracts are four years [at the longest]. It’s just the nature of our business and it’s not ideal not to have continuity. But there are rewards for a freshness. What really matters is how well they play and as I said, time is our judge,” Ainge said.
“I’m excited, no question, as I said, you can feel it,” Ainge continued. “You can feel the energy here at our practice facility, you can see it in guys that are trying out for the [G-League], guys that are going to play major roles on our team this year, young and old, you can just see the energy that exists around here and it’s good. It’s exciting. I’m excited to get the season started and see how it all works.”
While the team could presumably struggle out of the gates due to a lack of chemistry, if they figure things out, the C's could very easily find themselves representing the Eastern Conference in the Finals this season.
For an organization that has won 17 NBA championships, reaching No. 18 is of the utmost importance. Therefore, whether or not Ainge planned to make the moves that he made, the end result is the only thing that matters.