So over this 4th of July Weekend, many changes took place across the league regarding NBA Free agency. The Celtics were impacted significantly by these events, picking up All Star Center, Al Horford and narrowly missing out on former league MVP Kevin Durant. Although not getting Durant was a disappointment, given that he went to Golden State, clearly he is not capable of handling the pressure to play in Boston and bring us a championship. Given the outcomes of these two scenarios, lets take a look at how the team is currently constituted.
First, the pick up of Horford was tremendous. I have been hitting Danny Ainge for years and criticizing him for not getting a real center since Kendrick Perkins and he went out and landed "the whale" as they say in poker. Al Horford was considered to be the best center in this free agent class and the Celtics locked him up. Some have said he is technically a power forward, but Hortford is a capable center for this team and he did in fact play center for many years when Josh Smith was starting at Power Forward for the Hawks. Horford adds rim protection, rebounding, size and inside play that this team has been sorely lacking for five years.
Given that this Celtics team was able to amass 48 wins without legitimate help from the Center position, adding Horford should bump them up a significant amount in the win column and easily makes them a top 3, possibly even top 2, team in the Eastern Conference. Horford's presence will open things up for the perimeter players like IT, Crowder, and Avery Bradley. Horford will demand significant attention down low and he will create opportunities for jump shooting.
Despite this significant upgrade, the end game has not been achieved. With the current power structure in the league, that is not possible with this roster. I personally, do not feel that the rest of the free agent crop is worth a max contract. There may be a few role players that we could pick up, but I feel that, in order to challenge Cleveland, a trade must be made. I advise Danny Ainge to wait for the right deal rather than pull the trigger on something less than a home run. Trading is his speciality, and he will be able to pull off something just as big as this Horford signing, possibly this offseason or the trade deadline. Although many of my fellow Celtics fans are impatient and want to win now, I believe that creating a championship team usually takes one step at a time. Signing Horford was a huge step towards that goal and only one or two steps remain in my opinion.
For the first time since 2008, I can confidently say: "Danny Ainge did a great job this offseason". It is truly a proud moment for the Celtics organization and I look forward to watching the progression next season.
By Spencer Roush