Now that the dust has settled and reality has started to set in, this whole thing still feels a little surreal. Emotions are running high, there's a lot of unknown that still has to be figured out, but the truth of the matter is the Boston Celtics are about to enter a new era with an entirely new identity. What that identity is is still TBD, we have no idea on June 22nd if it's going to be better or worse than what they were before, the only thing we do know is that it will be different.
I've lived through several big Celtics trades in my life, with a wide variety of results. I lived through Rick Pitino trading Chauncey and Dee Brown for Kenny Anderson. That…didn't exactly work out. Soon after I lived through trading a young Ron Mercer for basically Eric Williams (love him forever) and Kedrick Brown. That….didn't exactly work out either.
I lived through trading Toine, which was the first true gut punch of my teenage years. As you can imagine, Raef LaFrentz and Jiri Welsch didn't bring a title.
Of course, the Big 3 trade did. That trade changed our lives forever, and to this day remains the only Celtics title I've ever seen with my own eyes while being alive. We then lived through the trade of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, something I never thought in a billion years we would see, especially with Pierce. During that run, we also saw the Perk trade completely ruin the chemistry and ultimately not work out either.
After that, we had the Rondo trade. That was another tough one for yours truly and is sort of similar to what we're experiencing now. People either loved or hated Rondo in a lot of the same ways people either love or hate Smart. He was polarizing. When he was traded for Jae Crowder and pieces, at the time we had to work through what was probably the best Celtics point guard of my lifetime heading to another team. You bet your ass that was tough.
Then came the Isaiah trade.
And now here we are with Marcus Smart. It's going to take some time to get used to it, Opening Night is going to be so fucking weird to see him not out there, and I'm already getting emotional about his first game back at the Garden. There won't be a dry eye in that building.
But what's done is done. There's no changing it, this is the reality. All we have now are the memories
I generally live my life by one basic rule when it comes to my favorite basketball team.
Trust Brad Stevens.
That's how I've felt since Ainge first hired him to coach, that's how I've felt since the day he became the boss, that's how I've felt with every move he's made that so far has worked out in his favor, and now that trust is being put to the ultimate test. I know enough about Brad to know he doesn't make rash decisions. He has a plan. What is that plan? Who the hell knows. But I have no choice but to trust it.
We enter today with more questions than answers when it comes to the Celtics roster, and that's OK. The Draft is tonight and free agency hasn't even started yet, but that's the truth. Especially when we're also getting news like this
Is this his elbow? Is it Tommy John or something? Is it worse?
I understand the return aspect of the Smart trade. Essentially Porzingis and 2 1st round picks for Smart/Gallo/Muscala can absolutely be viewed as a Brad win if you were looking at things in a vacuum. But we don't live in a vacuum and basketball is not played in a vacuum. That's where the uncertainty lives.
As the roster stands today and assuming Grant walks now that Porzingis is in the mix, the Celts have taken a massive hit in their playmaking and defensive versatility. For a team that struggled with ball movement at times and defensively at times, losing your best perimeter playmaker and versatile defender in addition to the defensive versatility of Grant is a legit concern, especially in the playoffs. We saw how Brogdon was targeted defensively to the point where Joe basically couldn't play him. Their guard room right now looks like this
Derrick White, Malcolm Brogdon (injured), Payton Pritchard
That's not good enough. As a result, making sense of this Smart trade is tough because we have no idea how that situation is going to be addressed. All I know is that it has to be. You cannot enter a season let alone the playoffs with that type of guard rotation. The goal I thought was to make the Jay's lives easier, not give them more of a burden to create.
Of course, there are some positives to this whole thing, like an increased Derrick role. He certainly showed a lot during his career year last year, but the pressure is now on him as well. No more hesitant play. No more disappearing. He has to take another leap as both an aggressive scorer and facilitator for any of this to work. He certainly can, we just have to see it.
With Porzingis, it does give the Celtics an interesting look. He's more than just a 3pt shooter, and the ways you can use him offensively paired with Tatum and Brown is intriguing.
The only real concern I have with Porzingis is the health aspect. In terms of his game and how he plays on both ends, those help you. I just think it's fair to be very nervous about a guy with brutal injury history now joining a team that has brutal luck with injuries. My expectations are basically what I had with Brogdon last year. If he gets you over 60 wins that's a prayer, and there's a chance he probably doesn't end the year healthy. That's essentially exactly what happened with Brogdon last season.
My additional concern with Porzingis' health is how the rest of the frontcourt looks. Rob is certainly no guarantee to be available, Al is 38 and we can't keep relying on him like he's 25, and the only other big on this roster after the trades is Luke Kornet. So just line up the guard and frontcourt depth
You are lying to yourself if that doesn't scare the fuck out of you.
So yeah, Brad has his work cut out for him, but based on everything we know about him as the boss, there has to be a plan. If Brogdon is that hurt, there's no way this team trades their starting point guard without an ample replacement, so now we just have to wait.
My question is, which need does Brad now fill and how does he do it? Is that drafting someone today and hoping to God they are NBA ready right now? Is that packaging Brogdon and some of those picks they got last night as a sweetener for someone to take on his money? Then from there, you use Grant in a S&T to bring back a rotation caliber piece at a now position of need?
For a team that many said had a toughness and heart problem, how is that improved right now? Are the Celtics tougher today?
There will be a lot of talk over the next few days about if the Celts won or lost this trade, and I simply don't think we can answer that right now until we see how everything shakes out. Even then, we won't truly know until this time next year. But until we see what the entire roster looks like heading into training camp, all we can do is sit and wait and hope for the best. Hope that the trust we have in Brad is going to pay off and that there is a plan in addition to what we just experienced last night. That cannot be the only major move if this team wants to get back to the Finals and win the whole thing. It simply cannot be.
This trade is a monumental moment for this team and this franchise. It's their fork in the road moment for this era. Either this is the move that gets them over the hump and they win the whole thing, or this is a gamble and a path that completely blows up in their face. There is now no more Marcus Smart to go out and carry the load in a playoff game when one of the Jays is no showing, just like he's done in each of the last 3 postseasons. Tatum has to be an MVP guy all the time now, not just some of the time. Jaylen cannot go into witness protection throughout a playoff series either. People said Smart needed to be traded so that Tatum and Jaylen could step up and evolve as leaders, well here you go. Now they have to do it or this team is royally porked.
Perhaps after tonight, things become a little more clear in terms of what this roster is going to look like, but as of the writing of this blog, there are certainly more questions than answers.