Sadly, the Celtics season has dwindled to an end.
With a loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals emotions were shook in and around TD Garden.
Now it’s time to lay out everything on the table as attention turns to next season.
Who will be drafted? Who do the Celtics need to make this team even better next year, along with the expected return to full health of All-Stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving?
Who will stay? While Wyc Grousbeck said his ownership group is willing to go well into the luxury tax to keep together a title contender, money will still play a huge role in who goes and who remains.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will really need to put the pedal to the metal on decisions for the 2018-19 roster.
Marcus Smart feels he is worth more than $14 million per year. The question is whether there is a team out there who feels the same way about the restricted free agent. If so, the Celtics may not be willing to match an offer sheet. But with fewer franchises having salary cap space this summer, Boston might be able to get him back at a relative discount for at least next season.
Smart has exhibited unbelievable defense and spirit on the court in his career, but he has yet to develop into a consistent shooter – and at this point of his career teams may determine that he never will. He was one of several Celtics to struggle badly on offense in Game 7 as he finished 1-for-10 in what may be his final game in a Boston uniform.
He said following the team’s exit meeting the next day that he had been told the team wants him back next year, and that he considers Boston his home, but added that he would have to consult with his family on any decisions.
He revealed in the playoffs that his mother, who lives outside of Dallas, had been diagnosed with cancer and that she is currently undergoing treatments.
Hayward seems to be on a good recovery with a positive result from surgery to remove the hardware in his ankle. Ainge said after the season that Hayward remains on track to return for training camp in September.
Even trickier could be shaping the frontcourt with Aron Baynes and Greg Monroe unrestricted free agents. Moving Al Horford to center full-time is an option, but that would leave the Celtics small in almost every lineup option.
Baynes said the day after Game 7 that the front offense indicated it would like him to return as well.
This year’s draft is heavy with potential impact big men, but that would likely mean trading up into the top 10 with next year’s Sacramento pick and a future Memphis first-round pick that the Celtics own their best trade chips outside of the current roster.
Unlike years past, the Celtics will not have the maximum-salary spot available so this summer’s work will entail trying to re-sign Baynes, Smart, and using the salary cap exceptions to fill out the roster around what should be a star-studded starting five.
About the Podcast: Celtics Stuff Live was the original live interactive webcast produced specifically for Celtics fans. The show originally aired for two hours every Sunday night and featured regular and prominent guests such as Mike Gorman, Sean Grande, Steve Bulpett, Marc Spears, Peter Vecsey, Mark Murphy, Scott Souza, Kelly Dwyer and Gary Tanguay and broadcast on CelticsBlog.com. Justin Poulin was one of the first members of the internet media to be credentialed with access to the locker room. After effectively retiring in early 2012, Celtics Stuff Live returns with Jon Duke and Justin Poulin featuring the interviews and expert analysis that listeners came to expect from the show in the Danny Ainge era.
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