The Kyrie Irving trade that saw a number of Boston Celtics' assets go to the Cleveland Cavaliers including Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, both key players since Brad Stevens took over as coach in 2013 as well as several future first and second round picks. It was without a doubt one of the most fascinating trades of the window. Gordon Hayward signed from free agency was a smart piece of business by the Celtics hierarchy with last season’s all-star linking up with his former Butler coach once again.
We can only predict as to whether the Celtics mount a serious challenge against an Irving-less Cavaliers and better yet win their 18th NBA Championship, 10 seasons after winning number 17. This promises to be an intriguing season for the league’s most historic franchise.
But can they topple the Cavaliers in a severely weakened Eastern Conference? Let's find out.
After winning the first pick in the draft lottery, the Celtics had multiple options on how they wanted to use their pick. Despite how packed Boston were at the point guard position, there was fresh optimism that Markelle Fultz would be a Celtic and that Danny Ainge and Co. wouldn’t use their pick in any potential trade package. The night before the draft had a change of events as the Celtics acquired the Philidelphia 76ers third pick along with a future first round pick. Duke University’s Jayson Tatum would be drafted in was a sensible move considering Tatum was a small forward, a position that the Celtics lacked depth in. Jimmy Butler was rumored to be joining the Celtics on draft night but Minnesota Timberwolves’ offer was more appealing for the Chicago Bulls.
Along with Tatum, the Eastern conference finalists acquired Semi Ojeleye, Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird, all second round picks. Tatum is the clear candidate for rookie of the year from the Celtics refreshed roster. Stevens did a great job in giving Jaylen Brown the right amount of game time last season so the 19-year-old is in good hands.
Free Agency Signings
The Celtics signed several players in free agency with Hayward standing out the most. The forward also had interest from the Miami Heat but chose Boston as his new home. Aron Baynes also joined the Celtics, as the roster was boosted in the Centre position, where the Celtics were considerably weak at last season. The Australian will add experience to what is a relatively young Celtics team. Shane Larkin was another notable addition to Coach Stevens’ team coming in at point-guard from Spanish team Baskonia. Paul Pierce was the final free agency signing a one-day contract and would retire with his beloved club where he won the championship in 2008.
Free Agency Departures
All these incoming players meant a lot of outgoings in free agency. Many of whom are front-court players. These included Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, and Tyler Zeller. Olynyk who signed a four-year contract was joined by Jordan Mickey as the pair went to the Heat. Johnson moved to Philadelphia and Zeller went to the Nets. Other departures included Jonas Jerebko who left Boston for the Utah Jazz. The Milwaukee Bucks signed James Young and Gerald Green both through training camp.
PG: Kyrie Irving/Terry Rozier/Shane Larkin
SG: Jaylen Brown/Marcus Smart
SF: Gordon Hayward/Jayson Tatum/Semi Ojeleye/Abdel Nader
PF: Marcus Morris/Guerschon Yabusele/Daniel Theis
C: Al Horford/Aron Baynes
2018 NBA Draft Status
The Celtics have a protected 2018 first round pick from the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the pick must fall between two and five for them to use it next year. This pick all depends on how the Lakers do this season. For example, if the Lakers finish 10th in the Western Conference then the Celtics won't receive the pick. Instead, they would relying on the 76ers or the Sacramento Kings where the odds on either one of these teams having a poor season are greater. Oklahoma City Thunder will receive a second round pick from the Celtics for the coming draft.
2017-18 Season Prediction
I’m predicting the Celtics to push the Cavs further than they did last season. However, only time will tell as to whether they can beat Cleveland in a series. The weakness of the Eastern conference takes the pressure off the Celtics and other teams in the conference to succeed. A lot of the talk will be in the Western Conference, especially teams like the Golden State Warriors and Thunder. For me, the Celtics will win more regular season games, finishing second behind the Cavaliers. But can they make an improvement on last season’s playoff season? I don't think so.