Monday’s loss 108-103 to the Minnesota Timberwolves should be a turning point for the Boston Celtics. It is perfectly clear that the Celtics, as they are currently built, are not a championship team and it is time for them to make big changes.
That’s not to say they have to break up the Jays. The Celtics have Jaylen Brown on a reasonable contract considering his value: he will make $26.7 million next season and $28.5 million in the 2023-24 season. Meanwhile, the Celtics have just signed Jayson Tatum to a $163 million five-year deal. It’s too early to give up on the plan to put together a team to maximize the talents of their All-Star duo.
Interestingly, the Celtics’ most valuable asset may be Robert Williams, who signed a $54 million four-year contract extension in the off-season. While Williams’ progress on the pitch has not exactly been a straight line, he has already proven to be an impactful defensive player and should grow as an offensive option if he has more luck in his career.
The team’s other major marketable piece would be guard Marcus Smart, who similarly signed a four-year extension during the off-season for $77 million. The trick with Smart, besides the fact that the Celtics can’t quite trade him yet, is that his worth isn’t based entirely on his stats. It’s hard to quantify his defense and impossible to sum up how his chaotic style of play on the pitch helps (and sometimes hurts) his team.
In the case of both Smart and Williams, it’s entirely possible that the Celtics rate their players higher than other teams. Any franchise that makes a deal with Boston will be aware of how historically their players seem to struggle when they move to another city.
After giving up their first round pick in the deal that sent Kemba Walker to the Orlando Magic for Al Horford, it’s likely that team president Brad Stevens will want to keep his future draft picks. While they would probably like to clear their banking situation by trading some of their younger players away, none of them have really settled in.
As for veterans, it’s hard to know exactly what they could get for Horford, even if the team had intent to lose a player they seemingly went out of their way to bring back. The team would probably like to say goodbye to Enes Freedom – who has already grumbled about his lack of playing time – but it’s impossible to believe that there is any interest in the competition for him.
The reality of the current situation is that the Celtics risk wasting the scoops of not just one but two special players. Their next move will impact the franchise for decades to come.