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This summer will mark the 4-year anniversary of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce being traded to the Brooklyn Nets for a mother load of assets. It also marks four years since the departure of Doc Rivers and the addition of the young Brad Stevens.

In case you’ve forgotten, Nets GM Billy King traded three first round picks (2014, 2016 and 2018), along with first round swap rights in 2017, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and DJ White.

Yes, Garnett and Pierce are both future hall-of-famers and had successful stints in Boston. However, that didn’t exactly carry over to Brooklyn. Four years later, Garnett is retired, Pierce has completed his final NBA season and Terry is playing in Milwaukee. The picks Brooklyn sent Boston have turned into James Young, Jaylen Brown, this year’s number one pick and a great possibility of a top pick next season.

So where do the Celtics stand now? Boston has a top-5 MVP candidate in Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and lots of excellent, young talent. Following is what I believe the Celtics will do this summer to ensure both short & long-term success.

 

Draft

Boston owns the number one pick in this summer’s draft. The top prospects are Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum and De’Aaron Fox. Though they already have an All-NBA point guard in Thomas, I believe the Celtics should and will take Fultz with the first pick.

There have been many analysts suggesting the Celtics trade the first pick. However, I believe that would be a huge mistake. Paul George wants to be a Laker. Not to mention his team was swept by Cleveland in the first round of this year’s playoffs. Jimmy Butler is a transcending star but has been connected to rumors of leadership issues and didn’t do much with the 2-0 lead his team held over the Celtics in the first round this spring. Other than those two players, who else is available and worth the first overall pick in a draft arguably as deep as the historic 2003 “Lebron” draft?

 

Free Agency

Boston will create around 30 million in cap space this summer. Per Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics plan to make a hard run at Gordon Hayward. Hayward missed out on the All-NBA teams Thursday, making him ineligible for the “super max” extension from Utah. The wingman played his college career at Butler under Brad Stevens and has had many rumors tying him to wanting to play for his former college coach. The Celtics will have more than enough cap space to pay Hayward, making him the centerpiece of their plan going forward.

The Celtics were a horrifically undersized team in the frontcourt during the 2017 season. Their rebounding and rim-protecting issues loomed large in the playoffs as well. A player who can fill the void of both, along with the ability to stretch the floor, is JaMychal Green of the Memphis Grizzlies. Though he’s a restricted free agent, Memphis has a lot of money tied into Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Marc Gasol and could avoid keeping Green.

Other than Hayward and Green, I don’t see the Celtics doing much via FA. However, when it comes to attending to their roster, I see many moves for the near future.

 

Trades/Extensions

Yes, Isaiah Thomas just recorded one of the best seasons in Boston Celtic history. But, in my opinion, he’s not a max player in Boston. There have been discussions of extending Thomas and giving him the paycheck he rightfully deserves. However, I have a feeling IT will be cashing that check with another team. Fultz is showing the potential to become a superstar PG who can score and distribute. He also brings nice size and potential defense to the table. Two things Isaiah can’t. Fultz is also roughly 10 years younger than Thomas and comes much cheaper for the first four years of his rookie deal. Keep IT at roughly 6-7 million for next season and trade him/let him walk later.

Avery Bradley is another guy who needs to be attended to. He’s 26 and starting to reach the peak of his career. Bradley averaged 16 points a game this season and proved yet again to be the best defensive guard in the NBA. The Celtics consider him to be a key piece to their team and it would be wise to extend him & avoid paying him more money than they’d like to or even having to let him walk for nothing.

Earlier I mentioned the possible signing of Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have a less-talented swingman of their own in Jae Crowder. Needless to say, if Hayward joins the Celtics, I don’t believe Jae Crowder will be around much longer.

I have analyzed a few situations on how to deal with Crowder. His contract comes at a very sexy 6, 7 and 8 million, per year, for the next three seasons. His defense and ability to consistently shoot the 3-point shot are also very attractive in today’s NBA.

In this particular trade, the Celtics would also send the Nets 2018 first round pick to the Knicks. I know O’Quinn & Porzingis seems like a lot for just Crowder, Jackson & Mickey. However, the 2018 pick included will likely hold great value if things in Brooklyn continue to go south. Also, don’t forget that Porzingis is far less than thrilled with how things are being run in New York and this gives the Knicks a fresh start with young players and picks. (Yes, this trade includes Carmelo Anthony joining the Clippers and forming the NBA’s third super team of Paul, Melo, Blake and DeAndre.) The Celtics then get a for sure upcoming star in Porzingis instead of gambling with Brooklyn’s record & Ping-Pong balls next May.

Here I have the Celtics sending Crowder & Jackson for Jabari Parker. Parker could fill the PF position for the Celtics and be a key piece for them going forward. With his luster of injuries the past couple of seasons, I believe Parker’s price could drop and the Celtics have every right to gamble. (No, there would not be any picks included in this deal.)

 

Roster Projections

 

  • Starters
    • PG- Isaiah Thomas
    • SG- Avery Bradley
    • SF- Gordon Hayward
    • PF- Kristaps Porzingis/Jabari Parker/JaMychal Green
    • C- Al Horford
  • Bench
    • Fultz
    • Rozier
    • Smart
    • Brown
    • Zeller
    • Zizic
    • Yabusele

 

These moves allow the Celtics to contend while also maintain a young, inexpensive core with veteran leaders around them.

 

By: John Morgan Francis