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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sadly, The Celtics Still Remain Stuck In NBA Purgatory

The unfortunate reality of today's NBA is that your favorite team is going nowhere unless they have multiple All-Stars and/or reside in a sunny location like LA or Miami. Even worse, places which should be attractive to free agents like Boston or New York are not at all, meaning that one of the league's marquee franchises-the Celtics-will be nothing more than a slightly above average team until they can hoodwink a former player to trade another franchise guy (thanks again Kevin McHale for Kevin Garnett).

Armed with four draft picks last week (2 in each round), we hoped that Boston would move up to get an impact player. Instead, GM Danny Ainge stuck with all four to get a mostly uninspiring group: Louisville guard Terry Rozier, Georgia State guard R.J. Hunter, LSU power forward Jordan Mickey and William and Mary (yes they play basketball there) Marcus Thornton (the other one). Free agency began last night at midnight and as expected, the Green and White have been pretty quiet thus far. There has been whispers about free agent power forward Greg Monroe (who would be perfect for the C's) but that died down rather fast as he got wooed by more likely suitors.

All Boston has done so far is sign former Raptors power forward Amir Johnson (2 years, $24 million) and re-sign power forward Jonas Jerebko (2 years, $10 million) and swingman Jae Crowder (5 years, $35 million). Don't get me wrong, these are all decent players that will help but truthfully, they don't bring the Celtics any closer to that elusive Banner 19. They are all role players and that'll probably never change.

Johnson is quite a success story since he skipped college and was drafted late in the second round (56th overall by the Pistons) in 2005. He's 28 and he's coming off of a six-year run North of the border. Last season, he averaged 9.3 points per game, 6.1 rebounds and he shot 57% from the floor and 41% on 3-pointers. He's 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds but not the most physical guy so you won't see him battling too much down low (a big issue for the undersized Celtics last season). He is a good shooter with decent range for a big guy.

Jerebko was a complete unknown when he was traded here last season for Detroit. At 28, he is a perfect bench player as he showed in 29 games with the Celts (7.1 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, 41% on 3-pointers). Likewise, Crowder seemed like a throw-in from the Mavericks to complete the Rajon Rondo deal (remember him?) but he can really play. A versatile and tough defender, he brought an edge to the C's as they made that surprising run to the playoffs before they were swept by the Cavaliers in the first round. After not getting much of a chance to show what he can do in Dallas, Crowder made the most of his opportunity last season: averaging a career-best 9.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and one steal per game for Boston in 57 games. He turns 25 on Monday so a longer contract makes sense since he is currently one of the Celtics' best players (really).

Where else does Boston go from here? Your guess is as good as mine; just don't count on them bringing in any big names. With head coach Brad Stevens and a bunch of coachable, hard-working, team-first players, the C's are destined for another playoff spot and a quick exit once again when they go up against one of the East's best teams like Cleveland, Chicago or Atlanta. Are you having fun yet?

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