The Boston Celtics are currently 46-26 and are still holding tight to the 2-seed in the Eastern Conference. They are two and a half games up on the Wizards, and one game back from the Cavaliers.
No one expects them to win the title this season. They have legitimate stars and foundation players, but not one analyst will pick the Celtics to host the Larry O’Brien trophy. They are a team of underpaid (Al Horford excluding) and young, scrappy players that are still developing.
So let’s assume the Warriors, Cavaliers, or Spurs just won the 2016-17 championship. It is now June, and teams are starting to gear up for free agency and the draft.
For the Celtics, it’s about to be an offseason no one will ever forget.
They currently hold the rights to swap with Brooklyn’s 2017 first round pick. They will inherit the Nets’ 2018 first rounder as well.
They will have the cap space to sign a max-player plus enough to back a Brinks truck up Isaiah Thomas’ driveway.
The Celtics are loaded with options, assets, and talent. I’m just going to go ahead and tell you the five biggest moves the Celtics make this upcoming offseason.
1. The Boston Celtics trade for Paul George
This scenario involves the Celtics’ 2017 Nets pick falling to the second choice in the draft. Sorry guys, but I’ve seen the balls bounce the wrong way for the Celtics too many times. Jeff Green could have been Kevin Durant. Marcus Smart could have been Andrew Wiggins. Don’t get me wrong I love Marcus Smart and think he is in the Celtics’ long-term plans, but the lottery just has never gone the Celtics’ way.
In this trade, the Celtics send the second overall pick, Jae Crowder, and Avery Bradley to the Pacers for George. This move adds another bonafide superstar to the Celtics’ lineup, and puts them further into title contention.
Honestly, I hope I’m wrong and we get the number one pick, because I think Markelle Fultz is going to be a top-three NBA player at his heights.
2. The Celtics sign Danilo Gallinari
Gordon Hayward is ideal here, but Gallinari is a more realistic target for the Celtics. He has been connected to Boston in the past, and would be a perfect cog for the Brad Stevens machine. Galinari is sure to command a hefty price tag, but it shouldn’t cost a max-contract to get the Italian star to Boston. Gallinari is also unrestricted, so it would be easier to pry him away from the Nuggets. Adding Gallinari to the Celtics would provide the perfect upgrade over Jonas Jerebko. Gallinari has the versatility and offensive game that can help the C’s in areas of need. His three-point shooting would be an automatic plus, and he has shown the ability to rebound this year.
Expect the contract to range somewhere in the four years and $85 million range.
3. July 1st
The Boston Celtics are 100% going to add a young, potential star in the position of highest need on this date. Ante Zizic is here to make sure Celtics fans forget about any rebounding / big men woes the team has. Ante Zizic will be eligible to be signed by the Celtics on July 1st.
Zizic has been absolutely tearing it up for different teams in the Euroleagues this season, and he keeps getting better with each stop. In 10 games with KK Cibona, Zizic averaged almost 16 points and 6 rebounds in only about 24 minutes per game. He’s 20 years old, and will not turn 21 until January of next year.
Zizic has immense potential, with one NBA scout saying he would be a top ten pick in this upcoming draft. With his current progression, he could even find himself in the Celtics’ starting lineup next season.
Zizic seems both ready and excited to play in Boston. “I think this year I have improved my game, I improved my body and gained experience,” Zizic told The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach in a phone interview. “So I think right now, I am ready for the NBA… I go on every rebound, so I think I can help on that, for sure I can,” Zizic said. “I can grab some bonus rebounds. I have a great work ethic and always will give my maximum.” He is saying all the right things, and his size and talent should do plenty of talking.
Zizic will be a great addition for the Celtics, and could eventually evolve into a core asset for banner 18.
4. Celtics pass on resigning Kelly Olynyk
This is not to say Olynyk is a bad player and won’t get a good contract, but it certainly won’t be with the Celtics. Olynyk has been immensely inconsistent. When he’s at his best, Olynyk can score from all parts of the floor, distribute, and defend both forward positions. When THIS Olynyk is on the floor, the Celtics are a substantially better team.
However, there is that thing called consistency.
There are times when Kelly can’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. When his confidence or game is off, he forces up tough shots and doesn’t get back on defense. Olynyk has the skills, but has been unable to hone in on a consistent game. That has led to his inconsistent playing time with the Celtics. The Celtics will need to prepare for the summer of 2018 when Bradley, Thomas, and Smart are all free agents. Letting Olynyk go will probably be a necessary move to keep the other three in Beantown.
I expect Kelly Olynyk to get a contract of around three years and $50 - $60 million. Some interesting fits for him include the Pistons, Rockets, and Thunder.
5. Celtics improve on a weakness and add Anthony Morrow
Anthony Morrow is a dog. He can shoot the lights out of a gym, but has never put it all together to be a star player. Morrow would serve perfectly for the Celtics as a three-point shooting specialist. Like the Cavaliers do with Kyle Korver and the Spurs do with Danny Green, the Celtics need that guy that can make a three when it counts.
Morrow could be the solution to that problem, and playing on a playoff team could light a fire inside of him. The 31-year-old is a career 41.7% three-point shooter, but has played mostly for underwhelming teams. Gerald Green will probably be on his way out after this season, and Morrow would be an instant shooting improvement.
An incentive to signing Morrow would be the cost. Injuries and poor fits have diminished Morrow’s value, so the Celtics could likely sign the swingman for a cheap dollar.
I want to see banner number 18 in Boston as much as anybody, and I do believe the Celtics are getting closer. These five moves will push the Celtics to new heights as they look to dethrone the aging Lebron James and the Cavaliers.