Celtics Preparing For An Offseason Of Change

Slightly over a year ago, the overachieving Celtics were competing with LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the conference finals. The landscape in the Eastern Conference has changed dramatically over the ensuing 13 months and Boston has not been left out of the league-wide shake-up.

The franchise is now operating as if Kyrie Irving and Al Horford won’t be back. Irving has been in communication with the Celtics since the season ended and the point guard has been “forthright” about his intentions, sending both public and private signals that he’ll be departing in free agency, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Brooklyn will likely be Irving’s next destination.

Early in the season, Irving declared to a packed crowd at the TD Garden that he would be re-signing the club once his contract expired. That was before a 2018/19 season in which ‘chemistry’ became a buzzword akin to the words ‘disrupter’ or ‘synergy’ in corporate speak.

A number of factors contributed to the uneasiness in Boston’s locker room. Jackie MacMullan (via Dane Delgado of NBC Sports) hears that coach Brad Stevens’ dedication to Gordon Hayward caused some issues. Stevens wanted Hayward to regain confidence and he gave the wing opportunity after opportunity on the court to show his pre-injury form.

Stevens has a history with Hayward from their Butler University days, though the coach would have taken the same approach with any player coming back from a major injury. Hayward continued to struggle, proving he wasn’t ready for the minutes and with many mouths left unfed, the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality festered.

Next season, different elements will contribute to the team’s locker room chemistry. Hayward will outlast Irving in Boston, as the veteran wing has two more years left on his deal (the final year is a player option worth slightly less than $34.2MM). Horford appears set to be elsewhere, and new faces will surround the tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the team hopes of remaining competitive in an enhanced Eastern Conference.

Last spring, the narrative out of Boston centered around how the team was ready to compete in the present but was also built for the future. The Celtics’ story is a lesson in never underestimating how much things can change in just one year.

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51 thoughts on “Celtics Preparing For An Offseason Of Change

    • ishkabibble

      Guess who’s gonna be laughing when you boys don’t win squat, skippy? Everyone.
      So what else ya got?

  1. hiflew

    It’s pretty telling that they are preparing for change after two of their best players have already opted out.

    They are a 6 seed at best next year and very possibly could fall behind some upstart teams like Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Orlando. Atlanta might need another year, but it wouldn’t surprise me that much if they made the playoffs next year. Especially in the fairly weak Southeast Division.

  2. formerlyz

    Although losing Horford hurts, letting those guys leave, and retooling around the young guys wouldnt necessarily be the end of the world. Makes it tougher to figure out if they’re going to keep all of their 3 picks or still try to use some of their assets in some kind of a trade

    • The guy comes across as a clown and the Celtics seem like a better team without him anyway.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          and that’s tearing apart the locker room? him and Rozier arguing over celestial what nots? c’mon… you’re smarter than that.

        • KnicksFanCavsFan

          Do we really need to wait? He wasn’t a locker room cancer in Cleveland. Despite his offseason trade demand he never let it effect the team which is eveident since every Cavs player asked said they were shocked he was unhappy there. Meanwhile, Terry Rozier has done two interviews with ESPN where he verbalized his unhappiness with playing behind Kyrie and even stated how he has “sacrificed” his talent despite being “one of the best PG in the NBA”. He also indicated that others were unhappy losing minutes playing behind Hayward. He also said that he resented the way Ainge and Stevens wanted the team to run the offense built around Irving and Hayward. You can fault Irving for how he HANDLED the drama (lacking leadership skills to control it) but he certainly wasn’t the instigator. That’s also why he apologized to LBJ because he now understood the difficulty of being a star veteran with young stars who feel entitled because he was that to LBJ in some ways. So no, Irving was not the main issue in terms of lock room chemistry. It was the guys in charge and how they allowed the kids to derail what could’ve been a really good team.

      • ishkabibble

        12-2 in the 14 games Kyrie missed last season. Try watching some Celtics basketball before you post next time, okey doke? If you’d seen ’em at all it would’ve been pretty apparent..

    • MafiaBass

      Entitled is a bit harsh. They pretty clearly earned their minutes through the way they played after Irving got hurt in 2018.

  3. shawn hemp

    Tatum better have been worth it all. They held onto him like he was gold. Now all there draft assets were a bust with picks in the teens. Memphis got ja and that pick prolly gonna be in the teens too. Now beanbishs can turn on Danny and brad and the wheels can completely fall off

    • x%sure

      Tatum needs to be 22ppg next year, no more excuses… I don’t think he can drive winning so he better get buckets.

  4. Guest617

    shame on danny for not recognizing the severity of issues he should’ve traded kyrie – writing was on the wall day 1

  5. Stoop Down Low

    Coach Atkinson likens his point guard to the QB in football. Going from D’Angelo Russell to Kyrie Irving is analogous to going from Matt Stafford to Aaron Rodgers. Smart signing gives them options in the draft and the rest of free agency.

  6. PeterDipersio

    Brooklyn signing Irving and KD ! So, who do they have after those two ? You can’t win with just two players!

  7. Thec’s

    The Celtics were not going to beat the Bucks or the 76ers as they were currently built! Al was one heck’va player for us but he is not worth a 4 year deal. KI wanted to be the man and had a hard time dealing with the run the young guys made the year before in the playoffs. We need a young big to compete with Giannis and Embied!

  8. SuperSinker

    I love Celtics fans coming on here tryna say Horford wasn’t that good/not worth a contract with Gordon Hayward’s corpse running up and down the floor lol

    • Lenny Bruce

      No one is saying Horford isn’t a good player. What is being said is that the man’s not worth a 4-yr deal. Try to pay attention

  9. I give no fox

    But but but, Trader Danny is the greatest team builder of all time. He has never lost a trade! Some interesting roads ahead for the Celtics. Tough decisions with Rozier this year and Brown next. Have shown flashes, but are you gonna pay them 15-20m+ per year? Is your core going to be Tatum/brown/rozier? Still have smart and Hayward contract, not a lot of money to improve through the outside. Only bullet left is that Memphis pick…what a crazy turn of events in just one season. It will be interesting to watch

    • Down with OBP

      Hmmm…apparently I gave a coding command – the above should read:

      *insert Bill Simmons’ fist pump gif

      (Shouldn’t have used these [] brackets?)

  10. Spike4christ

    Still Have Cap space for this year. Three picks to move up. People have written of Gordon. Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference Finals without All me Irving. Gordon is a Team splayed. Horford hurts but we have Semi growing and The Dancing Bear The Landlord in the Paint. Morris May come back. Scary Terry. Isaiah Thomas May come Home. We shalll see. Tatum May become a beast! Brown in the Lane!!! Philly and the Bucks May lose a few too. So we could be in the ECF again. One landing bad by Lenoard and who knows.

    • Jeremy

      If you read your own comment can you understand what you’re saying? Trying to read that made me angry at your parents and every teacher that you ever ignored.

  11. Where are all the C’s fans now telling us how they’re world beaters and guaranteed NBA Finalists/Champs last year?

    You over estimated your team based on what was a quality ECF run the year before. Danny has pulled off some good moves, but not enough to make you a real contender. Better have more up his sleeve this offseason, or back to mediocre playoff team you go.

    • Boston2AZ

      And next year, someone will be writing: “Where are all the Lakers’ fans now telling us how they’re world beaters and guaranteed NBA Finalists/Champs last year?”

  12. GMB 883

    The off season just started and Ainge has all kinds of options. Let’s see what they do before you write them off. I think they will end up with a much better roster than most are thinking. Add that to the improvement and team ball movement without Kyrie and they have a chance to be really good. Most teams would love to have Tatum at 21 and Brown at 23 as part of their future.

  13. C-Daddy

    They were always overrated after that run to the Eastern Conference Finals – the East was absolutely terrible that year.

  14. Dionis89

    The Celtics will still be a top 4 team in the East. Brad is too good of a coach not to coach them to a top 5 seed. Just make sure you re-sign Rozier and fetch DeAndre Jordan some money to come over and play center. Also re-sign Marcus Morris.

  15. dlevin11

    Boston Flee Party in full effect right now
    but give Trader Danny a chance to make moves in Draft and free agency.

  16. GMB 883

    A lot will change and Kyrie might end up back with the Celtics. Today we hear that if the Nets can’t sign 2 max level stars then they are not sold on Only Kyrie and would resign D’Angelo Russell. Latest has Durant potentially staying with GS. Kyrie is meeting with The Celtics this week. Should be interesting.

  17. dust44

    In my opinion for what it’s worth. Horford is a big loss. Kyrie never really fit into Stevens style. And let’s not forget pre injury Hayward was a dog. Look at PG13 post his similar injury. Dude looked like he was done in Indy the year after his procedure. And he straightened out. Hayward will be fine. Rozier, Tatum, Brown, Hayward and Horford would be a playoff/contending starting 5. And they draft well and make savy moves. Ainge is one of the best GMs out there. Celtics fans need not panic

  18. mcase7187

    First I’m a huge C’s fan and supporter but imo they deserve this for what they did to IT4 (ya I know it was 2yrs ago and he hasn’t been the same player ) they did him dirty

    But I don’t think they are as far off as people are saying and remember it is the eastern conference so it’s up for grab behind the bucks and maybe the raptors (if KL stays)

  19. Horford leaving is a blow but not overpaying him for his mid 30s maybe a blessing. Celtics have seemed like a team caught between win now mode and a rebuild. This way they can go full youth movement. Tatum, Brown, Memphis pick could make a great core

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