How do the Boston Celtics take the next step in dethroning the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference? What are the key offseason factors in deciding the fate of the Celtics in 2017-18?
The Boston Celtics are defined by intelligence and organizational excellence. After clinching the first seed in the Eastern Conference via winning 53 games, the Celtics are among the NBA’s upper echelon of contenders. Boston was ousted in the Eastern Conference Finals by Cavaliers but may not be too far away from making a Finals appearance if they can win another offseason. While Boston has an uphill climb to catch LeBron James and the Cavs, it’s hard to ignore the position the Celtics are in.
Boston enters the offseason in the weird position of trying to juggle being contenders and keeping their ultra bright future intact at the same time. Not only is Boston a contender now, but they also hold the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft because of the trade with the Brooklyn Nets that stole a trove of draft picks for the ancient Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. If anyone is close to overtaking Cleveland as the favorites in the East, it’s the Boston Celtics.
I’m not sure any team has a more interesting offseason at hand than Boston. With a million possible outcomes to consider, what are five moves the Boston Celtics should consider heading into the 2017 offseason?
Honorable mention: Monitor the restricted free agent market of Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk is the biggest name of any of the Celtics impending free agents. Olynyk has had his moments of late including his Game 7 heroics against the Wizards with 26 points on 10-14 shooting off the bench. If there’s one hole on the Celtics roster, it’s their lack of big men. While the Celtics may have to consider a number of avenues in order to create max cap space, playing a dangerous game with Kelly Olynyk is sort of inevitable for Boston.
Olynyk will create a cap hold of $7,735,034 to retain his bird rights but Boston can reduce that number by offering him the qualifying offer of $4,279,021. Unfortunately, if the Celtics cannot execute a trade this summer, Boston will have to renounce his bird rights entirely if they want to create max cap space to chase after a star. Of course, they won’t have to make that decision up until they actually sign a premier free agent.
If all goes right for Boston, they will have their cake and eat it too. Trading one of their plethora of guards will make it possible for Olynyk to stay on. The question becomes whether or not another team will give him a hefty offer sheet? Olynyk, 26, could leave Beantown if he lands an offer sheet of around $15 million per year. If not, Boston can likely finesse a reasonable contract to keep him in green.