The Celtics have been rebuilding ever since they traded their big three to the Nets. Danny Ainge has done a great job getting the Celtics back to an elite level. He used the Nets trade to eventually acquire Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kyrie Irving. He also signed big name free agents Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. Brad Stevens has done a great job getting the most out of his players. The Celtics were the number one seed in the East last year, and they are on pace to get a top two seed this year. However, the Celtics are still not close to a championship and the window to win one might be closing. So why is that?
Talent Level on the Team
Even with all the talent they have, the Celtics might not be good enough to beat LeBron James and the Cavs. If they do, then they would have no chance against the superpower Warriors. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward (when healthy) are superstars, and Al Horford is a consistent All-Star. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have developed nicely, but they still are not good enough to win it all. In the NBA, you usually need three superstars to win a championship. The Celtics have two superstars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Al Horford is a great player, but not good enough. The Celtics know this because the last championship they won was with Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett.
How to Get the Big Three
To fix this problem the Celtics have two options: wait or strike now. The answer might seem obvious, but it’s really not. The Celtics could wait until 19-year-old Jayson Tatum or 21-year-old Jaylen Brown develop into a superstar. The problem with this is that it is no guarantee that both or even one of them develop into a superstar. The Celtics could strike now by trading for another superstar. Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis and Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard have been rumored to be on the trade block. To do this, the Celtics would most likely have to give up Tatum or Brown, Terry Rozier, and picks, or something along those lines. The problem is if Davis or Leonard flail out in Boston, while Tatum or Brown develop into superstars on another team. Personally, I would go with the strike now option. It is better to get a known commodity than a player you hope develops into a superstar. Danny Ainge has proven that he is willing to take risks, and he will take these risks to maximize the Celtics’ window.
Competition Around the League
The Cavaliers and Warriors have been the finals matchup for three straight years. LeBron James has been the main reason as to why the Cavs have been to the finals. He is a free agent this summer and is expected to leave. If he does, then the Cavs will rebuild. The Celtics should easily win the East because they are better than secondary teams like the Raptors, Wizards, and Bucks. In the West, the Warriors have been the powerhouse. It is going to be very hard to match them on a talent level, but the Celtics could do it if they make the right moves. Kevin Durant is a free agent this offseason, and he will most likely resign but anything could happen. If he leaves, then the Warriors will become much weaker. Klay Thompson is also a free agent this summer, and his departure would damage the Warriors.
So How Long Is the Window?
I would say the window for the Celtics to win a championship is three years. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are free agents after the 2019-2020 season. Assuming the puzzle pieces fall in the wrong place for other teams, then the Celtics should win the championship as soon as next year. If the Warriors lose Klay Thompson and the Celtics add Anthony Davis, then the talent gap from the Warriors to the Celtics will be much closer.
Cover image courtesy of NBA.com.