The Eastern Conference finals lasted a little longer than we anticipated, but the Boston Celtics' impressive playoff run came to an end on Thursday night, as the Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 5 135-102.
Now the real fun begins for Boston, as the Celtics have the No. 1 pick, cap space and a solid foundation already in place. They also have a big decision to make on Isaiah Thomas, but that's in due time.
As Brad Stevens' crew gets ready for a well-earned vacation, here are five steps for Boston to take the next step as a real championship contender.
Draft Markelle Fultz
Some offseason fixes are difficult or unlikely. Boston's first step toward becoming a championship contender isn't one of those fixes.
The Celtics already have the No. 1 pick in this year's draft; all they have to do is not screw it up.
Fultz (left) isn't a sure-fire superstar — there are questions about his shooting, and outside shooting is one of the greatest predictors of success (or failure) for a point guard prospect — but he excels in every other aspect of the game.
He can play alongside Isaiah Thomas for now, then take over as Boston's point guard when the time is right, and he'll make the Celtics better sooner rather than later.
Congratulations to Boston. Your rebuilding plan is right on schedule.
Try to trade for Paul George -- at the right price
The Celtics made the right decision by holding onto their stockpile of assets to this point. They're not in any real position to contend, and a big change would have been nothing more than a splashy move for the sake of show.
Now that the lottery is over and Indiana could be desperate, though, it's time for Danny Ainge to swoop in on PG-13. Even knowing there's every chance George won't want to re-sign with the Celtics, trading the 2018 Nets pick and a couple of players for the Pacers superstar would be a worthwhile gamble.
You could make the same argument for Jimmy Butler, I suppose; although I think George is a better player, Butler comes with a bit more cost certainty.
Either way, if the price is right, the Celtics can play a little NBA-trade-Plinko. If not, they move on to the next wing.
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Sign Gordon Hayward
This is the real beauty of Boston's current situation: The Celtics could have the No. 1 pick, trade for George or Butler and sign Hayward all within an eight-month span if everything goes their way.
The ball is in Hayward's court, depending on whether he thinks the best path to a championship is staying in Utah to try to overcome the Golden State Warriors or heading East to reunite with Brad Stevens.
Given the daunting task he'll face in the Western Conference, you can't blame the Jazz swingman if he decides he'd look good in green.
Make a hard decision with Isaiah Thomas
Thomas' future is the real test of how ruthless GM Danny Ainge is.
So if the Celtics' brightest future includes starting over at the point guard position with Fultz and giving the No. 1 pick two outstanding wings, the best move for Boston might be a trade next season.
The issue there is the Celtics are unlikely to recoup much value for Thomas on the final year of his current contract, and if Ainge moves the fan favorite in exchange for peanuts, Beantown fans might riot.
The other alternative is letting him walk for nothing, though. With what we know about Ainge and his infatuation with assets, that doesn't seem likely.
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Yes, wait on LeBron -- but understand that's not enough
The Celtics' overarching strategy at this point is to stockpile talent and picks, wait for LeBron James to slip from his peak, then strike when the moment is right.
That plan makes sense, even if it goes against the very spirit of competition. Still, it misses one key element: Boston isn't the only Eastern team on the rise.
While the Celtics are building their team for the future, they need to keep a close eye on Milwaukee and Giannis Antetokounmpo. In fact, they need to be coming up with a plan for slowing the Greek Freak at this very moment because the Bucks are in position to be the biggest threat to Boston's conference hegemony.
Building a roster designed to take on Milwaukee is a little extreme, to be clear, but the Celtics can't content themselves with the position they're in now. A new challenger approaches on the horizon.