COMMENTARY | The Boston Celtics have had a massively unpredictable offseason.
They said goodbye to their head coach, their captain and their defensive anchor. They made a draft selection practically no analyst or mock draft site saw coming. They hired a 36-year-old coach with absolutely no experience at the professional level.
But don't run away -- this piece isn't a scathing review or a pessimistic critique. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has actually done more good than bad during this full-fledged rebuilding effort.
Sure, past articles by yours truly have questioned his commitment to competing in a rebuilding year. But all in all, he deserves praise.
In descending order, the following list highlights Boston's best moves this offseason.
5. Waiving Terrence Williams
The Celtics acquired guard/forward Terrence Williams to a 10-day contract in February, and then inked him to a deal for the rest of the season. The 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pound journeyman showed initial signs of promise as a slasher and rebounder but failed to deliver a consistent punch in the long run.
Williams finished the season with a -0.1 offensive win share, and then averaged only one point (on 20 percent shooting) in 9.2 minutes per game in the playoffs.
The biggest issue with T-Will was his inability to mesh with the offense. That would assuredly worsen with a young, rebuilding squad.
Two weeks after Boston's postseason elimination at the hands of the New York Knicks, Williams was arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at the mother of his 10-year-old son. The Celtics waived him on June 30, a move Ainge needed to make.
Assuming he stays out of legal trouble, Williams will land a short-term role somewhere -- it just might be in China, where he played before the Celtics grabbed him.
4. Netting a First-Round Draft Pick for the Rights to Doc RiversDoc Rivers showed little interest in another rebuilding stage in Boston. Once the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett rumors escalated, so did Rivers' desire to leave his post for greener pastures.
For a while, it looked like he would return to broadcasting. Then it seemed he might retire altogether. But the Los Angeles Clippers wanted him. And luckily, Ainge had a backup plan.
After the NBA nixed an attempted deal involving Rivers and Garnett for DeAndre Jordan, the prez landed the next-best return: a 2015 first-round draft pick in exchange for the rights to Rivers. Add another chip to Danny's bowl of assets.
Ainge made a bold move at the NBA draft, trading up to the 13th spot to nab Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk. The move sparked dissent among Celtics Nation at first, but now appears to be a steal.Olynyk dazzled spectators during the Orlando Summer League (OSL), shooting lights-out and blowing past defenders like a gazelle. The 22-year-old 7-footer averaged an Orlando-leading 18 points per game, adding 7.8 rebounds while shooting 58 percent. He made the All-Summer League First Team and apexed the NBA.com Rookie Ladder. His combination of long-range accuracy, high-post intelligence and overall court vision look special.
If not for Olynyk, undrafted point guard Phil Pressey would be the talk of Boston. The Missouri product, gobbled up by Ainge minutes after the second round ended, exhibited great confidence, quick hands and playmaking ability during the OSL, averaging 9.4 points, 6.6 assists and 2.0 steals.
He earned an invitation to training camp and inked a deal shortly after. A Waltham high school product and the son of former Celtics assistant coach Paul Pressey, Phil fits right in with the C's, who desperately needed a backup floor general.
2. Receiving Three First-Round Draft Picks and a Trade Exception for Three Veterans
Saying goodbye to KG and Pierce (oh, and Jason Terry) was difficult for Celtics fans, but the net result has most of them singing, "Everything's gonna be all right..."
Thanks primarily to the Brooklyn deal, Boston now finds itself loaded with assets, specifically nine first-round draft picks over the next five years. Perhaps even more important, Ainge managed to land a $10.3 million trade exception in the process.
As a team over the cap, Boston will likely exercise this exception next summer. It essentially affords it a one-year window to absorb $10.3 million worth of salary in any trade or sign-and-trade. Over-the-cap teams usually can't acquire more than a certain percentage of the money they send out.
Call it an "Escape the Salary Cap Free" card of sorts.
1. Hiring Brad StevensTwitter nearly broke in New England. Sports talk radio stations' phone lines spontaneously combusted. In a wild summer, Ainge's hiring of Butler coach Brad Stevens was the ultimate shocker.
It was also his greatest move of the year. Once you get past the fact that Stevens is 36 and has no NBA experience whatsoever, you get the big picture. He's an analytical mind, a brilliant player developer and a great communicator.
Stevens went an unprecedented 166-49 in his first six years (never winning fewer than 22 games in a season). He led the Bulldogs to the NCAA championship game in both 2010 and 2011.
He can do a lot with a little, and he can earn the respect of the youngest, most enigmatic players. Don't save his seat in Springfield yet, but this guy could be a professional head coach for a very long time.
Sloan Piva lives in New England and covers the Boston Celtics. His articles have been published in a range of different magazines and websites. Find Sloan 24/7 on Twitter @SloanPiva.
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- Boston Celtics
- Danny Ainge
- Terrence Williams
- Kelly Olynyk