The Boston Celtics are one of the most storied franchises in the history of the NBA. But in this NBA season, they are struggling and looking towards what is hopefully, a much brighter future. Despite coming off a 96-89 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday, the Celtics sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a record of 16-33. The win over Orlando ended a six game losing streak for the Celtics and gave them their first win since Rajon Rondo returned from a torn ACL. Rondo had 19 points and 10 assists in the victory and looks to be returning to his all-star form.
Although the historic Celtics franchise is struggling this season, there is a shining beacon of light at the end of the tunnel. It is clear that Celtics General Manager, Danny Ainge is looking towards the future. This was made evident in the blockbuster off-season trade that sent future hall-of-famers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets.
What many people seem to forget about this trade is that Ainge was able to squeeze three first round draft picks out of Brooklyn for Pierce and Garnett. This is an amazing deal for the Celtics seeing as Pierce and Garnett are well, to put it politely, on the back nine of their basketball careers. Last week Kevin Garnett was held scoreless in a game for the first time since his rookie season.
Acquiring draft picks is certainly a step in the right direction for the Boston Celtics organization. Earlier this season Ainge was at work again, when he traded Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks in exchange for Joel Anthony, as well as a second round pick and a conditional first round pick. In an upcoming draft year that is expected to have one of the deepest pools of talent in years, stocking up as many picks as you can is a good start to rebuilding a storied franchise.
Now the concern for the Celtics is whether or not they will make the right decision in who they select with these picks. Thankfully for the Celtics and the city of Boston, Danny Ainge has done quite well in this regard in recent years. Heading back to the 2012 NBA draft, the Boston Celtics selected Jared Sullinger with the 21st overall pick. Now in his sophomore season in the NBA, Sullinger has blossomed into a dynamic work horse in the post for the Celtics.
In Sunday’s victory over the Magic, Sullinger contributed a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Earlier this season Sullinger had a monstrous 20-20 game against the Toronto Raptors with 25 points and 20 rebounds. Not bad for a guy who fell to the 21st pick in the draft.
One thing the Celtics will need to do to ensure a successful future is sign Rajon Rondo to an extension. Rondo is one of the top point guards in the league and an NBA champion; the leadership he can provide is a much-needed asset to such a young Celtic squad.
The Celtics will also be looking to sign a free agent in the off-season with all the cap space they have recently opened up. One of the leading candidates in this regard is Utah Jazz Forward, Gordon Hayward. Hayward is having a stellar season on a struggling Jazz team and would benefit greatly from a player like Rondo feeding him the ball. And oh yeah, who did Hayward play for in college? Oh, of course, he played for Butler and Boston’s rookie head coach Brad Stevens.
Celtic fans will just need to tough it out this NBA season and keep their heads up. Rebuilding takes time, but the Celtics are looking towards the right direction in the future and soon enough they will return to their championship standard.
By Eric Kummel