The Boston Celtics’ “C” Grade Offseason
Despite landing arguably the most valuable free agent on the market this offseason, the Boston Celtics have not found their four-leaf clover. In fact, they’ve overlooked the proverbial lucky clover which they’ve had under their thumb for quite some time now (no it’s not the damn mascot who does trampoline assisted dunks during halftime). Now they have all but squandered said clover with myopic planning and misplaced confidence.
The petals of Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown were on the verge of flowering into a young cohesive unit, one the Celtics organization has been working to cultivate for years. This group’s potential was illustrated by their play in game 3 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, when Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley lead the team to an 111-108 nail-biter of a victory, with 27 and 20 points respectively. But what was the difference maker in game 3? The C’s got spanked in games 1 and 2!
Well, it could have been the emphasized role that veteran facilitator Al Horford played, feeding the hungry young talent that was now posturing in the spotlight. Or it could have been the absence of a certain “centerpiece” whom Boston sports fans may be familiar with…
Rather than coddling this dirty-water fed budding crop of youth to fruition, Danny Ainge and his trusting gaggle of subordinates have chosen to pander to a singular show-pony of a superstar: Isaiah Thomas. The little man: just the type of inspirational underdog story that Boston fans are so susceptible to. Now, underdogs come with their inherent defects. That’s what makes them so gosh darn lovable right? To compensate for Thomas’ defensive ineptitude and his gross proclivity for ball-hogging, the Celtics acquired free agent All NBA buffer of a pseudo-star: Gordon Hayward.
To the cockeyed “green teamer” demography, the acquisition of Hayward renders their beloved C’s an NBA Championship contender. But mathematically, the acquisition leaves the Celtics in a nonplussing middle-road position as merely an interloper to the battle that will be waged against the Golden State Warriors for the next 4-5 years. Sure, Hayward augments the play of Allen Iverson impersonator Isaiah Thomas (Iverson won a total of 0 titles during his time in the league). But this only furthers the team’s deviation from the rebuilding process, a path they resignedly vowed to follow a few seasons back in the aftermath of dismantling the “Big 3”.
The hasty discarding of Avery Bradley, a critical piece to the aforementioned rebuilding process, to make cap space for Hayward implies that this team is looking to steal an NBA Championship during the Cavaliers-Warriors saga. This chase for ephemeral success, which may not even climax as a title for the C’s, comes at the cost of squandered draft picks and young talent. This organization should have prepared themselves, through patient development, to supplant the in-vogue Warriors when they inevitably abdicate the throne they’ve held for so long. After all, Boston fans are accustomed to long-winded dynasties, not exorbitantly priced mercenaries who make jabs at glory. Red Auerbach is rolling over in his cigar-fumigated grave.