A new era begins in Boston
Six summers ago, the Celtics brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce and and embarked on a new era of success in Boston.
That era is over. Last season was the last hurrah for the 2008 NBA Champions and those very good Celtics teams of the past several years.
Allen had already acrimoniously left for South Beach and last year ended up being the final season in green for Pierce, Garnett as well as Jason Terry. It was also the last behind the bench for Doc Rivers.
The team did manage to hold on for a playoff spot, but with Rajon Rondo lost to a torn ACL and almost everybody on the team knowing that it was in its death throes, the team went out with a whimper in the first round to the New York Knicks.
The Celtics embraced an all-out rebuild in the offseason and got things rolling with the blockbuster trade that sent Garnett, Pierce and Terry to Brooklyn.
The draft picks they brought in for their aging stars will be valuable for the future, but in the short run it's going to be a difficult season in Boston.
Who's In/Who's Out
Key Additions: Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kelly Olynyk, Vitor Faverani, Phil Pressey, Brad Stevens (coach)
Key Losses: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Fab Melo, D.J. White, Kris Joseph, Shavlik Randolph, Terence Williams, Donte Greene
With only Rajon Rondo left of the recent Celtics greats, the rebuild is on in earnest for new head coach Brad Stevens.
Coming off of back-to-back NCAA Finals appearances with the upstart Butler Bulldogs, Stevens was very much a surprise choice for the Celtics job, but general manager Danny Ainge seems to know what he's doing with this hire.
The Nets are all in
2nd fiddle in New York
Flirting With .500
Embrace the rebuild
This could get ugly
Stevens is used to working with youth and youth he will have in Boston, led by first-round picks Avery Bradley and Canadian Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk's preseason has been a very good one, and the big man from Gonzaga will have plenty of time to develop early his NBA career.
Bradley, one of the best-defending guards in the NCAA last year, will be afforded a similar luxury considering the very modest expectations for the team.
With a very strong 2014 draft class, the Celtics can probably look forward to acquiring a top prospect via the lottery next summer.
The Not So Goods
It's probably not fair to list all of the weaknesses of this Boston team, as it simply isn't very good, but it's not expected to be.
Any team that loses as many stars and as much veteran leadership as the Celtics did this summer is clearly going to have its struggles.
Defensively the Celtics are going to miss Garnett's presence while they will really miss Pierce's scoring on offence.
The early days of a rebuild are never pretty and it's not going to be a fun year at the TD Garden. All Stevens will ask of his charges is a high compete level and a refusal to make it easy for the likes of a Bulls or Heat when they roll into town.
As for Rondo, he will likley be out for the first few weeks of the season least which leaves the team without their best playmaker. The chances are also pretty good that Rondo won't be interested in being part of a lengthy rebuild, so it's possible that he won't be finishing the year with the Celtics.
What To Expect
Rajon Rondo will play a big part in how this season goes for Boston. If he returns from his ACL recovery relatively early and is able to play at a high-level from the get go, the Celtics will at least be competitive most nights.
But if the Celtics really embrace the idea of getting as many ping pong balls as they can for the lottery, Danny Ainge will look to move his lone remaining star and wins would really come few and far between.
Either way, the playoffs are a longshot and the lottery likely.