The Celtics season came to an end on Saturday night, and now begins a fascinating time to watch the decisions that Danny Ainge and the Celtics will make before the team begins training camp in less than four months.
At one point, it was believed that there was a three-year window, after which the team would be in revert back to a lottery-bound franchise. They got five years out of the era, and it may not be done yet.
Danny Ainge has his critics in the Boston media (Hello, John Dennis!), but he has positioned this franchise to continue to be able to be a contender, provided he can put the right pieces together. They’ve got two first-round picks in a deep draft, and with a ton of money coming off the books, the ability to sign free agents or make trades this summer. They’ve got Doc Rivers, who players seem to want to play for. They’ve got Rondo, who makes teammates better and gets them easy baskets. They’ve got Avery Bradley coming back. (When he’s not boxing, apparently.) Despite being a cold-weather city, Boston has a lot going for it in terms of being an attractive destination for players.
Much hinges on Kevin Garnett, and whether 1) he wants to keep playing, and 2) if he’ll take a greatly reduced salary to allow the team to add pieces around him. In the past few weeks I’ve read media reports of interest from New Jersey, Orlando, the Lakers and Spurs, but I feel fairly sure that if he’s playing, he’s playing here, mostly because of Doc Rivers.
Saturday night was tough to watch. In some ways, it was predictable, you knew the Celtics would put up a fight, and I feared they would fade late. The postgame was even tougher. Doc Rivers’ press conference was very emotional. You had to love the defiance of Rajon Rondo, refusing to admit his team lost steam in the end, you got the impression Ray Allen had played his last game with the Celtics.
Then you had the media schoolmarms wagging their finger at Rondo and KG not sticking around to glad-hand with the likes of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Larry Bird didn’t stick around to give hugs and kisses to opponents. I hated when Kevin McHale hugged up Isaiah Thomas when the Pistons finally broke through against the Celtics in 1988.
Sportsmanship is more than just sticking around for a cursory handshake. It’s about playing the game right, respecting your opponent and leaving everything on the floor. The Celtics did that. For someone to immediately focus on raw emotions following a game which could be the last together for a proud group of warriors is the Twitter version of trolling for attention.
Pick up all the Celtics headlines today from CelticsLinks.com.
A few select stories from today:
Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 on ESPN Sets New NBA Cable Record with 9.1 Overnight Rating – Locally, the game scored a 21.7 rating.
Hard to analyze C’s Big 3 – Steve Bulpett has Danny Ainge talking about his expectations and hopes for this group, and what the future holds.
Big calls to make on Three – Gary Washburn looks at the decisions looming.
Celtics enter an era of change – Scott Souza has the team looking at a busy summer.
One more time! – Michael Muldoon want to take another run at it.
Celtics adrift in summer dreams – Peter May thinks the options might be limited for the Celtics.
A couple media-related items.
The NFL and me – In the Globe’s Jobs/Diversity Boston insert yesterday, Shalise Manza Young talks about being on the Patriots beat, and what she feels her role is among the rest of the media.
Haggerty vs Minihane – After their Twitter fight last week, the pair went at it on the CSNNE airwaves as well.
Now that the Red Sox have achieved their goal of breaking the Portland Trailblazer’s record for consecutive sellouts (wink, wink) can we end the charade?