Well, that sucked.
Last night, Celtics Nation saw the end of Boston's 2016, coming in Game 6 at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks. Coming into the series, I was one of the few people that thought the Celtics were going to lose (shoutout to Niko and Jordan, losers), but who's paying attention to that? Simply put, the Hawks are a better team than the Celtics. They have more star power, and have had a nucleus that has played together for years. While the Hawks have a tendency to crap all over themselves, they had fantastic composure in the series, specifically in Game 6. However, this series does not negate what the Celtics have been able to accomplish this season.
Isaiah Thomas turned into a cornerstone player, while we saw the ups and downs of players such as Jared Sullinger and Marcus Smart. Fortunately, it looks as if the Celtics are in prime position to have an absolutely fantastic offseason.
The Green have been heavily rumored in discussions with soon-to-be free agent Kevin Durant and Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler. Kevin Durant has been rumored with the Celtics since he was drafted, but, as KD has transcended into an all-world player, the Celtics have lusted after him even more. According to Yahoo, Boston has already begun the process of wooing Durant, as they are rumored to meet with him this summer, as well as bring on additional players. Chris Mannix of The Vertical dove into this topic this morning in an article for Yahoo:
"Ainge will be aggressive in free agency, team sources told The Vertical, and yes, that means a run at Kevin Durant. The Celtics believe Durant will meet with them this summer, but they know that meeting won’t accomplish much unless there are significant moves leading into it. Durant will be 28 in September, and the former MVP isn’t interested in hearing what a team could someday become. He wants to win now, which is why Golden State and San Antonio expect to be appealing, why Oklahoma City is still very much in play. Boston needs a deal for Jimmy Butler, a commitment from Al Horford, a carrot to dangle in front of Durant to persuade him that relocating east is the smart play."
The Celtics were almost in agreement with the Bulls at the Trade Deadline for the aforementioned Jimmy Butler, but Danny Ainge was unwilling to include Jae Crowder in the deal (shoot me in the face). Both sides seem to be done with each other, so a deal for Jimmy Butler is not as unrealistic as it once may have been. Additionally, Al Horford has been rumored with the Celtics since before the Trade Deadline. The Celtics wanted to trade for Horford before the Deadline, and has since said that they will be in the mix of things when he becomes a free agent this summer. While I do not think the Celtics need both of these players, I really like what I am hearing. With so many rumors swirling, I would be amazed if the Celtics do not make multiple moves.
Additionally, the Celtics currently hold the Brooklyn Nets' draft pick, which is destined to be in the top 3. The Celtics could look to draft a top-tier player like Brandon Ingram, Ben Simmons or Buddy Hield, but they could also be looking to trade that pick if the value is right.
If the Draft Gods continue to hate the Celtics and they do not acquire a top 3 pick, in my opinion, Boston should be looking to trade that pick to a desperate team. Dragan Bender, a Croatian 7-footer, could be enticing to a team that is looking to develop young talent overseas. Similarly, Kentucky's Jamal Murray and Cal's Jaylen Brown could be developing pieces that lesser teams overvalue, which could leave Ainge salivating from the mouth.
One thing is for certain, and that is the fact that most fans expect Danny Ainge to make multiple splashes. In this series during the Hawks, we saw teams eliminate Isaiah Thomas and dare inferior players, like Jonas Jerebko and Kelly Olynyk, to beat them. The Celtics desperately need scoring, and players like Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and Buddy Hield could be exactly what the doctor ordered. No player should be safe this season (Sorry, Isaiah).
As the draft nears closer, we will continue to dive into the best players that could be wearing Celtic Green next season and a better look at the offseason after The Finals.