Just a couple more days until the NBA Draft finally, mercifully arrives. I don't know about you but I've found it to be pretty tough to stay afloat in the maelstrom of rumors, reports and reactions, and that's just pertaining to the Celtics over the past 24 hours. And even though it's likely that pretty much none of what you've heard is true, let's operate under the assumption that it's all ironclad and try a little exercise to help us better understand and process the torrents of (mis)information that have been flowing for the past few weeks. Here's a little game I like to call: Awesome or Not Awesome.
Kevin Love Deal to the Golden State Warriors is "Dead" - AWESOME
Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher tweeted this one out yesterday while also declaring Love "unlikely" to be dealt before the draft. And while this doesn't really mean anything right now, with some 50-60 hours remaining until the draft starts, from a Celtics standpoint, it's tremendous news. If one of the potential suitors for Love is indeed eliminated from the chase, that's one less team the Celts will need to outbid for the 25-year old power forward's services. What the Celts can potentially offer the Timberwolves (combo of young players, expiring contracts and first round picks) feels like it outweighs what Minnesota basketball honcho Flip Saunders was said to be asking for (David Lee, Klay Thompson, possibly Harrison Barnes) but even though those players may be overrated and overpaid (or in Thompson's case, soon to be) the mere fact that they are living, breathing NBA players with playoff experience makes them appear, at least on the surface, more appealing than draft picks.
So feel good about this one, Celts fans. Acquiring Love should still be the team's No. 1 goal this summer and if a competitor for his services is out of the running, that moves the Celts that much closer to achieving it. And as far as the Wolves being "unlikely" to deal Love? Well, this:
Celtics Could Draft Two Players Who Won't Play for Them This Year - NOT AWESOME
Just in time to ruin lunch, ESPN's Chad Ford published his latest Mock Draft yesterday and surmised that the Celtics, should they not deal one or both of their first rounders, would take the sliding Joel Embiid at No. 6 (a bad idea in itself) and Croatian stretch 4 Dario Saric at No. 17. Saric is beloved by many a basketball observer and has been viewed as a possible lottery pick but the reason for his drop in the particular mock was a report from yesterday that he's signed a three-year deal (the third year being a player option) with a team in Turkey. By that math, were this scenario to actually come true, the Celtics would be drafting one player who would not be available to them for at least two years and another with back and foot injuries who won't be able to play for four to six months at the very least. Yikes.
If you are in favor of the Celtics following the lead of this past season's Philadelphia 76ers and tearing the entire thing down to its barest bones in order to start from scratch, you are probably thrilled at this possibility. Saric and Embiid are both wildly talented but the current circumstances point to it taking until oh, 2018-2019 or so before they'd have a tangible impact as a duo should the Celts draft them both, and that's if Embiid stays healthy and Saric actually does come stateside after just two years in Turkey. If you'd rather not see the Cs hitch their wagons to two guys who might be good four or five years from now, neither of whom are guaranteed to ever play a meaningful minute for them, well, step right up. The Celtics spent well over a decade trying to find the right rebuilding combination before the Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen trades. Even if Embiid and Saric do indeed prove to be that combo, it's completely beyond me why anyone would want to wait even half as long for it to come to fruition.
Rajon Rondo Will Not Be Traded This Summer - AWESOME
SI.com's Chris Mannix went on 98.5 The Sports Hub yesterday morning and threw some cold water on the most recent round of Rondo rumors, stating that he doesn't see the Celtics' point guard being moved at any point during this off-season, including on draft night. This is great news and I'm not just saying that because it would annoy the Jeff Goodmans of the world, who can't discuss the NBA without noting his disdain for Rondo and suggesting potential ways for Danny Ainge to get rid of him.
If the Celtics don't make any trades and use both of their picks on Thursday night, it will be a sign that at least for now, the slower, more methodical rebuilding process is the path they will follow, especially if Ford's theory of Embiid and Saric being selected comes true (shudder). Should this be the way things go, trading Rondo actually might make some sense given that the Celts will be taking another step or two backward and he will be a free agent next summer. But Mannix points out that even if the Cs choose that route, they will still want to see how Rondo reacts to being the elder statesman, the leader, the one around whom the next potential title contender is built. Then, if it's not working, Ainge can still deal him at February's trade deadline so as to avoid possibly losing him for nothing.
Again, the ideal scenario here is for the Celtics to use some of their stockpile of assets to bring in a proven star player like Love to pair with Rondo and accelerate the rebuilding phase. As much as some are currently trying to talk themselves into the act of blowing it all sky high being the better option, it's just not, at all. That will be clear as day as soon as perhaps say, December, when we're lamenting the first of several double-digit losing streaks and wondering how much more Brad Stevens can take before making a run for it back to the college ranks. And Rondo wants to be here to help guide the team back to contender status, which should not be overlooked either. His remaining a Celtic and leading the way back to prosperity should be the priority. Risking the next several years on projects, question marks and injury prone talents should not.
A big playoff run with Rondo in the driver's seat sounds awesome. At least three more years of 50-plus losses sounds not awesome. Seems pretty simple, doesn't it?