Danny Ainge has been making moves this Summer as he redesigns the C’s Roster in an effort not only to compete with the Cavaliers but also to possibly take on that bigger presumed dragon down the road... The Golden State Warriors.
Summer officially began and on June 20 and Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge wasted no time heating things up, arranging for a trade of the 2017 NBA Draft’s No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for their No. 3 pick, knowing that the player he coveted, Duke SF Jayson Tatum, would still be available at No. 3. So on the third day of Summer, June 22, Ainge and the Celtics went to the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and drafted the 6-foot-8, 206-pound Tatum as well as 2017 AAC Player of the Year SF/PF Semi Ojeleye, SG Kadeem Allen and SG Jabari Bird.
Ainge and Boston also sent Cleveland SF Jae Crowder, Rookie C Ante Žižic, an unprotected pick from the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 NBA Draft, and, after realizing Thomas’s Hip Injury was worse than anticipated, the Celtics completed the deal by sending the Cavaliers a 2020 Round 2 pick as compensation. Allen and Bird are now both on two-way contracts with the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics NBA G League affiliate.
In early July, Boston decided to trade defense-oriented G Avery Bradley (16.3 ppg) to the Detroit Pistons for PF Marcus Morris (16.0 ppg with Pistons in 2016-17) to free up space in its Salary Cap along with making a concerted effort to try to get some bigger players on the perimeter. On July 4, Free Agent Gordon Hayward told The Players’ Tribune he would be joining the Celtics and 10 days later the former Butler star signed with Boston to team up will fellow Bulldogs grad and now Boston Head Coach Stevens. The Celtics (Will the Celtics Make the Playoffs? Yes -5,000, No +1,500, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) then signed 6-10, 260-pound Free Agent C Aron Baynes (4.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg with Pistons in 2016/17) on July 19 and it was pretty obvious a total reconstruction of the historic NBA team’s Roster was in progress. But would former Boston backcourt star and BYU product Ainge let his biggest star, PG Isaiah Thomas go?
The Big Blockbuster "You Need A Scorer? I Can and Will Score" Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas Trade
Neither player has scored nor suited up in a game yet for their new teams, but it already seems that the Celtics (2017-18 Regular Season Team Win Total 54½, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) have won the big blockbuster deal engineered by Ainge and new Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman as for the first time in NBA history teams swapped players averaging 25+ ppg with Boston sending PG Isaiah Thomas (28.9 ppg for Celtics in 2016/17) to Cleveland for SG Kyrie Irving (25.2 ppg for Cavaliers in 2016/17) with Thomas, who has suffered from arthritis as well as loss of cartilage in his injured Hip, may reportedly be dealing with more than a torn labrum and may be sitting more than his new employer wants and perceived before this deal was done. Basketball buyer beware?
Before the big trade, the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers were 4/1 to win the 2017-18 NBA Championship while Thomas and the Celtics were listed at 10/1 with the Aug. 22 trade actually having no impact on the SuperBook NBA Finals odds at that point.
Potential to Lead Celtics to Finals Makes Irving Legit MVP Candidate, Rookie Sidekick Tatum Chance at RoY Award
All teams have a leader-leader, and for Boston (5/8 to win Eastern Conference, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook; opened 2/5), it had been Thomas running the point and being the Celtics prime scorer. In drafting Tatum, signing Hayward, and Morris and then trading for the shot-happy Irving, Ainge quickly added players who averaged a combined 77.9 ppg playing for their respective, non-Celtics teams last year with presumed starting C Al Horford also averaging double-digits. So Ainge and HC Stevens could go into the 2017-18 NBA Regular Season—which actually tips off in a little more than a month now on Oct. 17 from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland with LeBron James and the Cavaliers welcoming Boston to Quicken Loans Arena for a rematch of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals—with a starting five of Horford (C), Morris (PF), Hayward (SF), Jaylen Brown (SG) and Irving (PG) with Baynes (C), Ojeleye (F), 19-year-old Duke sensation Tatum (SF), Marcus Smart (SG) and Terry Rozier (PG) as potential backups. PF Guerschon Yabusele had Foot Surgery and missed playing in the NBA Summer League but is expected to be back training for Boston—who were also reportedly looking at Free Agent C Thomas Robinson to fill out its last Roster spot—and Daniel Thies (C), Abdel Nader (SF) and Shane Larkin (PG) round out the Celtics current fresh-look and pretty young Roster.
In getting Duke product Irving—one of six players in league history to average 20+ ppg and 5+ apg in his first five NBA seasons—to come to Beantown, Ainge and the Celtics instantly got the star, and MVP candidate and there was some significant movement in the Props Futures Book marketplace with Irving going from 50/1 to 25/1 before seeing even more Irving money and driving the odds down to 17/1 at 5Dimes right now. After being dealt to Cleveland, Thomas saw his odds go from 30/1 to 100/1 almost immediately, with the former Washington floor general still priced at 100/1 now (Sept. 9) with the news of his Hip problems in the forefront of bettors’ minds.
But whomever survives the 2017-18 Eastern Conference Finals—a spot where the underdog and out-sized Celts saw their dreams and aspirations go up in a puff of smoke—will probably have to deal with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and the defending champions Golden State coming out of the Western Conference. Teams in pro sports are hardly ever below-Even money favorites to win a championship in their leagues, but the Head Coach Steve Kerr and the mighty Warriors are. But hardwood mastermind Aigne and the Celtics have done as much as humanly possibly this Summer and still have the cupboards very, very full in Boston with a stockpile of No. 1 picks in future NBA Drafts.
Three teams (Warriors, Cavaliers, Celtics) probably have a realistic chance of getting to the 2017-18 NBA Finals (yawn) and probably only four players from those teams (Curry, Durant, James, Irving) have a realistic chance of winning the Regular Season MVP. Should Irving average above 30 ppg and Scottie Pippen-like Rookie Tatum average around 20 ppg and lead the C’s to the NBA Finals, perhaps these two will become another one of the NBA's great duos, Batman and Robin style with Hayward possibly filling the Kevin Love-Dennis Rodman-James Worthy third wheel role, quietly doing a little bit of everything.2017-18 EASTERN CONFERENCE FUTURES PICK: Boston Celtics +245 (Heritage)2017-18 NBA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FUTURES PICK: Jayson Tatum 11/1 (5Dimes)2017-18 NBA MVP FUTURES PICK: Kyrie Irving 17/1 (5Dimes)