For the foreseeable future, more specifically the immediate future, the pressure rises by the day when it comes to the Boston Celtics. That's the deal when you enter the "win the title or the season is a failure" territory. I know people tend to throw the word "contender" around pretty liberally these days to include teams that can't even make their Conference Finals, but when it comes to the Celts, they are true contenders which means you may as well embrace all the pressure that comes with it. I could make the case that they enter the 2023-24 season with some of the most pressure of any team in the league.
Making the ECF and the Finals is cool and all, but that's not the goal. That will never just be the goal. While that may be a dream season for some teams out there, for the Celts all that would be is another failure. That's the bar.
To win a title, you need the talent, you need the coaching, you need health, and ultimately you need some luck. But you know what's also pretty important? Ownership. You need an owner that is as committed as everyone else in the organization. Just think back to recent champs. The Nuggets benefitted from their ownership remaining patient and committing to their core. They paid what they had to pay to keep guys together, and ultimately that paid off. It goes without saying how important this was for GS given their roster is like the GDP of a few small countries.
For the Celts, that means Wyc Grousbeck does his part as well. I'll give Wyc credit, he's been very vocal basically since he bought the team that he and his partners will spend whatever they have to as long as the team is legitimately contending for a title, and so far he's kept his word. All you can ask for is an owner that is willing to arm his GM/roster with enough money and trust to build a team that can get over the hump. We'll see what that means moving forward with the new CBA, but when it comes to investing in the top talent of this roster, Wyc has written the checks.
So when I saw that Adam Himmelsbach had a nice little sit down with Wyc, you bet your ass I was interested in reading what he had to say.
I suggest reading the whole thing, but here were a few parts that stuck out to me
Changing the roster after choking the last 2 seasons
That's right, I said choke. Let's all be adults and call it for what it was. The Celts ultimately choked at the worst possible time in the past two postseasons. Yeah it'll haunt me until my last breath, so what. What Wyc said about it is what I found interesting
The general tone was, how do we take this energy we’re feeling right now that was built up over having two good seasons, but then didn’t get all the way? The whole point is, how do we get to banner 18? If we’d all agreed we should keep things the same that would have been fine. But the idea of bringing in another talented big popped up early in the conversation, and we ended up executing on that idea.
Honestly, I respect it. As constructed, the Celts had enough talent to win an NBA title. The issue wasn't their collection of talent, it was that the talent didn't come through when they needed to. If Wyc had everyone run it back, the Celts would be in the same spot as they are now, as contenders.
To me this answer gave good insight into the Celts' braintrust and how they were thinking. It's not that their current group wasn't good enough, it was about finding a way to add a missing piece at a certain position/skillset that would take them over the top, regardless of what it cost. That's not an easy call to make for a team that's already knocking on the door, but it feels like Wyc truly empowers Brad to find the right mix.
What I remember most about Marcus is his energy and his smile. He brought so much to this team and will definitely be missed. Our friendship is going to continue. [My wife] Emelia and I are going to attend his upcoming wedding, and that’s the way he and we want it.
Let's move on.
Joe Mazzulla's future
If Joe had done a poor job, I would have thought about replacing him, but he did a very good job. He took us within one game of the best record in the league and then one game of being in the Finals, as a rookie coach. So, I’m comfortable and happy to have Joe as head coach.
Now this was certainly something. The Celts were an early playoff exit away from apparently having their 4th coach in as many years. Why is that crazy? Well, if you remember the Celts did this during the All Star break
before he had even coached a single playoff game. Wyc was really about to eat all that extension money if things had gone poorly? I was under the impression that the extension was given so Joe wouldn't have to feel like he was coaching for his job during the playoffs, and as it turns out he actually was. Imagine what happens if Tatum doesn't wake up during those final 4 minutes of Game 6 against PHI and then puts up the 51 burger in Game 7?
So now that Joe has the backing of Wyc moving forward, how long is his leash? If the Celts don't win the title this season, is Joe back on the hot seat? If he makes enough deep run but ultimately falls short, is he safe?
Potentially selling the team
Given that prices for NBA franchises are getting a little out of control and it seems like a quick way to make a couple of billion dollars, I don't think it should surprise anyone if a current owner sells. That's a ridiculous amount of money. Buy Wyc?
No thought of selling the team. I did this for love and for Celtic pride, not for any price tags. Period.
So why is this important? Well, if Wyc has no plans to sell, that means we don't really have to worry about him stripping the roster down. You don't have to worry about him being a checked out owner and all that. If Wyc is going to continue to own the team and then also talk about how winning a title is the only thing that matters, one can assume that with those expectations comes a continued willingness to spend. At the end of the day, that's all I really care about.
I know in previous years Wyc certainly didn't do himself any favors by publicly declaring that everyone should brace themselves for offseason "fireworks" and all that nonsense only for absolutely nothing to happen, but in recent years it's hard to argue he hasn't done his part. He's had a team in the luxury tax, he's committed hundreds of millions of dollars to franchise building block players, he's approved big time trades of key members of the franchise, all in the name of winning that elusive 18th title.
At the same time, an owner can only do so much. He's armed Brad and the team with enough resources to get the job done, now it's up to the players (mostly Tatum and Brown) to get the job done. Because remember, with Tatum's supermax on the horizon, the clock is certainly ticking.