This NBA off-season has brought the usual changes, trades, and drafts that every off-season inevitably comes with. But one team that has seen particularly drastic changes is none other than the Boston Celtics. I’ve made it pretty clear time and time again that the Celtics are my team, but to be perfectly honest, if they didn’t have those clovers on the back of their jerseys, I wouldn’t even recognize them at this point.
As the Celtic’s 2012-2013 season came to a disappointing end (with them ending the regular season with a 41-40 record and losing to the New York Knicks in 6 games during the opening round of the 2013 playoffs) a few unexpected decisions were made by Celtics general manager, Danny Ainge. There had been a lot of talk regarding trading veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in order to try and build a younger team. However, the trades that ensued showed that Ainge wasn’t just “considering” these possibilities. He was aggressively pursuing them.
This past July, it was announced that there would be a major trade that would take place between the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets. This trade resulted in the Celtics giving Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, and DJ White in exchange for Kris Humpheries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, Marshon Brooks and Kris Joseph.
But nothing was more surprising to the Celtics fans than the departure of head coach Doc Rivers. After spending nine seasons with the Celtics, making six straight appearances in the playoffs, making two trips to the NBA Finals and winning an NBA Title, Rivers was released of his contract with the Celtics and took the position as head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. To say that his departure from Boston was emotional would be an understatement. In an ESPN article by Jackie MacMullan, Rivers said “I will cherish every single moment I had in Boston.”
In addition to the trades that occurred, there has been a number of injuries that has left the line-up of the C’s even more un-recognizable than ever. Starting point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a partially torn ACL this past February and has been in the process of recovering since his surgery. He will not be expected to play until December. Bench player Jared Sullinger who added a lot of depth to last season’s line up will not be ready for the start of the season due to a back injury.
So with all of these trades, acquisitions, and injuries the starting lineup for the Celtics, tentatively, consists of Avery Bradely, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humpheries, along with head coach Brad Stevens (formerly the head coach of Butler Univeristy).
As far as my expectations go for this year’s starting line-up, I believe that Brandon Bass and Jeff Green will continue to be the key players that they proved to be last season. Granted, they are nowhere near the level that Pierce or Garnett were for the team, but they have been explosive when it counts the most. Courtney Lee still has some developing to do as an individual athlete at the shooting guard position. He currently maintains a .464 field goal percentage and averages 7.8 points per game, but I believe that when Rondo is back and in good health he can make Lee into a key member of the Celtics offense.
Avery Bradley will be taking over for Rondo until he is fully recovered, however Bradley himself is still listed as being “day-to-day” due to his on-going shoulder problems. When Bradley is healthy, he acts as Rondo’s prodigy; he’s quick, explosive and fearless. He averages 9.2 points per game and he brings the necessary skill of agility to the floor.
The Celtics franchise is always met with great expectations, but I do not anticipate this season being anything but a transitional and rebuilding time period for head coach Stevens as well as the entire roster. With two rookies on the roster and a coach that is brand new to the NBA, my highest hopes for this season is that the Celtics make the playoffs as a number eight seed.
But looking at the long-term prospects of the decisions that were made, the C’s will ultimately benefit as they have made their team drastically younger. There are only two players on the roster that are over the age of 30 (Gerald Wallace and Keith Bogans) and the average age of the roster is 24 years old.
What will be most interesting for me to watch this season is how drastically Rondo’s role will change on the team once he returns. He’s had a lot of time to learn how to lead a team after spending five years under Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and he will now be considered the “veteran” and the “leader.” It now can truly be called his team. I believe that all of these moves were made with the intention of rebuilding the team around Rondo who, at 27 years of age, should be in the prime of his career. But, unfortunately, all of that speculation has yet to be seen and may not prove to be true until Rondo has fully recovered from his ACL tear.
All in all, the Celtics made smart moves for the franchise in the long-term., but the immediate consequences of these moves will leave the C’s with a mediocre 2013-2014 season.
To get all on the inside info on the upcoming NBA season, visit ESPN.com.