After bowing out in the Eastern Conference Finals in a season that had major promise, the Celtics, now, like everybody else, have major questions to answer in the off season.
One of the major questions fans were asking was a pretty easy one to answer. And was answered right away by Brad Stevens. So before diving into everything let’s knock that one out.
Whether you agree with the decision or not, Joe Mazzulla will be the head coach next season.
The change that should have happened within the coaching staff, did happen, with the Celtics bringing in a veteran coach who has experience in this league to help Joe out.
Not only does Sam Cassell have experience in this league as both a player and coach, he has experience with this organization, winning the championship here in 2008.
As for Joe, he isn’t perfect, but let me remind you guys, that he was never going to be the head coach of this team, at least not this early, not without unprecedented and unexpected events occurring within the organization.
He was thrown in a bad spot, and had some major, and frankly some very frustrating growing pains, but it’s easy to tell he has what it takes to eventually be a very good head coach in this league, and surrounding him with a veteran staff is a step in the right direction.
After Joe we get to the roster, and that’s where things get tricky.
I know a lot of the fans want drastic changes, whether that is an overreaction to what we last saw in game seven, or the general belief fans have, doesn’t matter because it’s highly likely there won’t be anything major occurring.
The new CBA that kicks in does make things more difficult to navigate though, making decisions on this core have to occur sooner rather than later.
Obviously, the first decision is Jaylen Brown, and almost everything else hinges just on that, but before we dive into the future of Jaylen, as there are many layers to that discussion, let’s first address the other roster pieces that decisions have to be made on.
Grant, since being drafted here in 2019 has been both a good player, and good team guy for this team and org.
Drafted as a high IQ, passionate, dirty work type of player he developed his game immensely and has since become one of the best shooters in the league, While still maintaining the intangibles that got him drafted in the first place.
His gritty, versatile defense made him playable in a variety of different matchups vs many different teams. Shining the most in the playoffs.
While Grant is a topic of discussion in the Celtics fanbase and catches plenty of heat and blame, it’s easy to see how valuable he is to the team.
With that being said, it’ll be extremely hard to keep him around with the new CBA kicking in. The Celtics are already very close to the tax and still have 600 Million waiting for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
The org can work with Grant to try and get a more team friendly deal, but it’s unlikely he would take that considering the money he can get in the open market.
There’s a couple options including a sign and trade, or just signing him, and keeping him for another year before having to deal him when the other contracts kick in, but regardless it’s hard to see Grant being here long term.
And as much as the fanbase loves to blame him, that hurts the team, and the roster construction.
Payton Pritchard, who was drafted in 2020 has been a very good rotational piece for most of his career here. In this last season, the first under Joe, his role was drastically diminished as the guard position was a log jam with Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon.
He played in just 48 games and only an average of 13 minutes in those games.
But it’s clear that he has talent, and can be a valuebale 6-8 guy for a team in this league. And he has stated his desire to show that with another team when his time here is up.
Knowing, for one, that you probably can’t keep him due to the CBA, and that he wants a bigger role, it would be in the Celtics best interest to try and deal him for whatever you can get, rather than making him sit on the bench just to leave for free after next season.
The Celtics who are low on future picks, would be smart to welcome a trade consisting of a future pick for Payton if possible.
Malcolm Brogdon is the wild card, and the one possible “big” move, outside of the potential Jaylen decision that I could foresee happening.
Brogdon was a great piece for the Celtics all the way up until his unfortunate injury that made him a shell of himself in the Heat series.
He won the Sixth Man of the Year award averaging 14.9 points on 48/44/87 shooting splits.
The problem is the Celtics have a log jam at the guard position causing a redundancy. Combining that with their lack of depth at other spots might have the Celtics searching for places to deal him.
It’s clear Rob Williams can’t handle a full workload in an 82 game season, and Al Horford is another year older at 37 now. A potential trade there to bolster the rotation and give you solid minutes, would improve this team based on needs.
It is tough to trade Brogdon as he was a crucial piece for the team, and if remained healthy in the playoffs could have helped this team reach the promise land, but after a season where he excelled in his role and stayed relatively healthy, his value might be too high to pass on, considering the needs for this team.
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