There are a lot of rumors going around involving the Boston Celtics and the future of the franchise, but besides handling the current roster, there’s also the immediate and long-term future, which might be determined in the draft, if the team manages to trade up and get someone like Steven Adams.
Adams, the 19-year old New Zealand born center who spent only one year with Pittsburgh before deciding to hit the NBA draft, knew that just being a promising 7-footer pretty much promises him a first-round draft pick. And while Adams wasn’t too dominating during his one year in the Big East, averaging 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds, his potential is sky-high, and the opinions regarding his pick aren’t about whether he’s worth it, but about whether he’s worth it now.
And it’s close to what the Celtics are asking themselves about next season. Do they dismantle the team, by releasing Paul Pierce which will probably lead to Kevin Garnett also asking for an exit, or do they shrug off the early playoff exit and hope that the return of Rajon Rondo brings back into some sort of contention in the Eastern conference, and the addition of a big man like Adams will do more than just bring on a player who needs a few years to develop.
Well, all rookies need some time to develop, but there’s a difference between being what’s usually referred to as a long-term project and someone who can be of an immediate contribution. In short: Can the Celtics start Adams, if they manage to trade up for him, right away?
The theory goes that if Adams can become someone who can play 20-25 minutes a night right off the bat, the Celtics can pull back Kevin Garnett from the 5 position and put him back in a much more natural spot, even if it does take Paul Pierce to get that draft pick. It clears $15 million of cap space, while it gives Rajon Rondo a guy who has shown in the NBA pre-draft combine that he’s ready now, and can do an excellent job as the roll man off Pick & Rolls, while freeing Garnett for pick & pops like he loves to do.
It’s all theoratical at the moment, and will need a few moves by the Celtics in order to get it done, including evaluating Adams and his potential to become a starting NBA center right away. But carrying on the known path and the predictable one doesn’t promise anything for the Celtics by an aging team without much of a future, and some painful years of rebuilding soon enough. By taking a chance they might miss out on the postseason for one year, but create the foundation to shoot up the standings, and hopefully the postseason, rather quickly.