Now that the Celtics are done showing us how far experience and pure determination can carry you, they have to make some decisions – serious decisions, in fact, when it comes to the state of their franchise.
Kevin Garnett (36 years old) and Ray Allen (36) are free agents. Paul Pierce turns 35 in October. The contracts of everyone from Keyon Dooling to Sasha Pavlovic to Jermaine O’Neal to Mickael Pietrus come off the books.
And we can’t even really guess what might become of front office decision-maker Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers.
All we really know with Garnett, Allen, Piece and Rajon Rondo, the Celtics were still pretty good – stretching the Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.
We also know they potentially have lots of salary cap room with which to work, as well as back-to-back draft picks (Nos. 21 and 22) in the first round.
So, where do the Celtics go from here?
That remains up in the air, and it’s really too early to say for sure.
But the early buzz suggests they are contemplating staying the course with Garnett, Pierce and Rondo (and Ainge and Rivers) and trying to rebuild through free agency and the draft.
“I think they’ll re-sign Garnett, but let Allen walk,” said one Western Conference executive. “Then they’ll spend some money in free agency. They’re a respected franchise. They’ll draw some interest from the available bigger names, but the key will be to keep Garnett first.”
When asked which free agents the Celtics might pursue, the GM said he couldn’t be specific, but he did speculate.
“With Avery Bradley having come around, they aren’t necessarily desperate for guard help,” the GM said. “They will need somebody, though, because I can’t imagine that Allen returns. So they probably have some recruiting ahead of them. They won’t find anyone like Allen was two or three years ago, but they can get help.”
Among the unrestricted free agents mentioned by the GM: Jason Terry (Mavericks), Andre Miller (Nuggets), Carlos Delfino (Bucks) and Nick Young (Clippers).
“I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to make a run at Eric Gordon (restricted, Hornets) or O.J. Mayo (restricted, Grizzlies),” the GM said. “Also, Shannon Brown (unrestricted, Suns) could be a potential option for them. I know a lot of teams are interested in him.”
On top of an active offseason on the market, the Celtics are said to be looking to package their picks and move up five or six spots in the draft. Or they could keep the picks and get two young good players from what is considered a pretty deep draft.
“They have a lot of options for a team that made it to the Eastern finals,” the same GM mentioned. “One, of course, is blowing the whole thing up and starting the whole thing over. But I have a hard time seeing them take that route.”
— The Cavaliers’ reported offer of all four of their draft picks (Nos. 4, 24, 33 and 34) was never really considered by the Hornets, who plan to keep their top choice and draft Kentucky star Anthony Davis. “For the Hornets, that would be like trading the No. 1 pick for No. 4, and that’s it,” said an Eastern Conference GM. “Anything after the 10th pick is pretty much a crapshoot.”
— Still, that GM praised Cavs general manager Chris Grant for “being aggressive.” He added, “My guess is the Cavs, if they actually made the offer, knew it was a reach. It was probably just the start, too. You always start with the deal you think can’t happen. But Davis is expected to be a major difference-maker. Everyone else is just expected to be good.”
— The Warriors are exploring the idea of trading the seventh pick for a veteran at practically any position, according to a source familiar with their thinking. “It’s not going to get them (Grizzlies forward) Rudy Gay, but the seventh and a player might,” the source said. “They’re looking for a dynamic guy to team with Stephen Curry and David Lee. I’m not sure they’ll get that in the draft.”
— The 76ers (No. 15) are also open to trading out of the first round for a veteran, as are the Rockets with their second first-rounder (No. 16), multiple sources have said.
— Meanwhile, the Kings might be interested in moving their pick for a big man if Connecticut center Andre Drummond doesn’t drop to them at No. 5, says a source. “They have enough perimeter guys,” he says. “In fact, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they saw what Marcus Thornton or Tyreke Evans, and maybe their pick, brought them. Probably not enough, but they really want another big to place alongside (DeMarcus) Cousins.”
— Florida guard Bradley Beal is scheduled to visit the Wizards on Friday and the Cavs on Saturday. Recent talk suggests Beal could go anywhere from No. 3 to No. 8 in the draft.