Last year's off-season was filled with drama of extreme highs, not forgetting the bittersweet departure of Celtic sweetheart, Isaiah Thomas. Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward dominated the news, and when they finally signed and became members of the Boston roster, Ainge had done it again, and the 2017-2018 seemed like it was going to be the year that the likes of the Warriors, the Rockets, and the Cavs were going to have some serious competition.
Fast-forward 96 games and many injuries later, we're left in a much different position. Hayward is out, Irving is out, and the team that has reached game 3 of the ECF doesn't necessarily feature All-star players (bar Horford), but rather a bunch of fighters. These guys have forged a team capable of toppling the Cavaliers and reaching the playoff finals without their star guards or forwards. I'm in awe of the Boston Celtics right now, but it begs the question, 'What are we going to do in the off-season?'
Personally, we start with Marcus Smart and offer him a new contract. He loves it in Boston, and when the next season rolls around, he's the perfect backup for Kyrie; his defence has been key, and keeping him in green is absolutely vital. If it's a choice of Smart or scary Terry, I'm going with Marcus. He fights for possession, loves his teammates (see the callous actions of JR Smith in the last game), and sacrifices his body for whatever it takes to keep hold of the ball.
In terms of trades, I'm kind of stumped. The return of Gordon Hayward is going to feel like a new signing in many ways, and when he comes back along with Kyrie, the team will evolve to the next step. It does make you wonder how many minutes we'll get of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum with Hayward back in the picture, but keeping them at Boston is just as important. There have been rumblings of trading them out, but if we started the new season with both of them returning, I'm absolutely fine with that.
The worry is, does the allure of Kawhi Leonard outshine what we already have? He'd be a great asset, but it'd mean trading stars to the Spurs, and I'm not ready to say goodbye to Kyrie just yet, regardless of Terry Rozier's performance this year. Remember the Anthony Davis rumours? Seeing him in Boston would be insane, and we'd dominate the east, but there would be far too much offloading the the Pelicans to get him here.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't do anything rash, Danny. The team we have right now will grow even more with Kyrie and Hayward back in the picture. With the likes of Horford, Morris, Brown, and Tatum making the numbers up, we already have a team of making the playoffs once again. Maybe even winning it if we don't this year (which I'm pretty confident about, but that's a different story). I'd be happy to wave goodbye to Munroe, Nader and Yabusele, but everyone else can stay.
Whatever happens, the off-season will no doubt be an interesting one. For the first time in a long time, I'm going to be nervous about seeing anyone go. As long as we hang on to Smart, and don't do anything silly to acquire Davis or Leonard I'll be happy. I just wonder what other stars might be the focus for our next push for the championship. For now though, let's just focus on game 3 of the ECFs, shall we?