RIP Celtics: Look Out Next Year as Future Looks Awesome

Monday, May 28, 2018 1:36 PM UTC

Monday, May. 28, 2018 1:36 PM UTC

Boston’s improbable run ended in Game 7 of the East finals. Although there is no pulse left in this year’s Celtics, the prognosis for a healthy and successful edition next season is excellent.

<h2>Youth Movement</h2><p>Considering the injuries to superstars Gordon Hayward at the onset of the season and Kyrie Irving at the end, the run their teammates made through the playoffs was decidedly unexpected but absolutely delightful for the Boston fan base. The conventional wisdom stated that the Celtics were too young and inexperienced to gain any traction in this year’s playoffs but their future was bright. Well, after vanquishing the Bucks in seven hard-fought games and the Sixers in five, it appeared as though anything was possible, including dethroning the King.</p><p>The Celtics battled the Cavaliers to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals but the moment finally became bigger than even this brash band of young upstarts could handle. Youth succumbed to experience in the form of LeBron James, and the Celtics' 10-game home playoff winning streak ended -- along with their season.</p><p>Although midnight came early on Sunday evening in Boston and their Cinderella story is over, the fact remains that the silver lining is that this young core now has oodles of playoff experience under their collective belts. Terry Rozier, a spare part that was thrust into the leading role when Irving went down, proved he is not only NBA ready but seamlessly transitioned into a legitimate sharpshooter until he shot blanks in Game 7 against the Cavs. Jaylen Brown, a third overall draft pick from two years ago, also got a taste of the postseason and had varying degrees of success. The Celtics also have a defensive wizard in Marcus Smart, who at 24 is the veteran among the new breed of talent blossoming in Beantown. Moreover, a bona fide star emerged from the fray in 20-year-old Jayson Tatum, who will be the face and foundation of the franchise going forward. It all adds up to years of success in the future but the question remains, is there room for everyone when Hayward and Irving return?</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;“It’s definitely tough, but we have nothing to hang our heads about.” Why? Because this is only the beginning of what’s to come for us. &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Boston Celtics (@celtics) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;May 28, 2018&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p> </p><h2>Dealin’ Danny Ainge Must Make Smart Move</h2><p>Marcus Smart is a restricted free agent and the Celtics’ will undoubtedly make a $6.1 million qualifying offer but that will only allow them to match any offer from any other team. Smart is a bit of a conundrum in that he is a subpar shooter but an exceptional facilitator and tenacious defender in a world that applauds and rewards gaudy offensive statistics.</p><p>If heart and soul, along with team chemistry, are real, then Smart is the embodiment of that intangible. But on the Celtics, he will also be relegated to that of a role player and paying someone north of what could as high as $14 million to come off the bench to tighten up the defense and give the fellas an emotional lift is a price tag that may be too high for a team that already has some lofty salaries and more to come when Rozier reaches free agency in 2019. Smart’s tenure in Boston is most likely through, as it is reported he is looking for the highest offer and an opportunity to be a starter.</p><p> </p><h2>The Future is Now</h2><p>If Rozier is indeed the guy we saw in Irving’s absence, then there will be a bit of a logjam in the backcourt when Irving returns, even without Smart in the mix. Brown will be battling Rozier for that starting assignment and the front court will be loaded with five-time All-Star Al Horford in the post surrounded by Hayward and Tatum. Marcus Morris played some critical minutes as well and the core group returning next season is as good as any in the entire league with the exception of Golden State.</p><p>Boston also has several decisions to make concerning free agents such as Aron Baynes, whose dirty work in the trenches, complemented by a surprisingly soft shooting touch, has garnered many Celtics’ fans. Shane Larkin and Greg Monroe will also be free agents and Daniel Theis has a non-guaranteed contract. All are legitimate NBA players and Boston would love to retain as many as possible.</p><p>Assuming the Celtics’ roster is not decimated by injuries we should expect the <a href="" title="NBA Odds">NBA odds</a> to reflect this entry as one of the favorites next year. Boston ran as far as they could through the postseason without their two best players, but in welcoming Hayward and Irving back to the lineup, the Celtics will be included in a mountain of <a href="" title="Free NBA Picks">NBA picks</a> to dethrone the King, win the East, and perhaps add an 18th world title banner to the rafters next season.</p>
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