When a team finishes first in the Eastern Conference and is three games away from the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals, there usually isn’t very much roster turnover. Which is why the Boston Celtics’ offseason has been so surprising. Here are some of the major moves the Celtics have made: Kelly Olynyk and Amir Johnson became free agents and were not resigned. Jayson Tatum was drafted with the 3rd overall pick. Avery Bradley was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Marcus Morris. Gordon Hayward was signed to a max contract (4 years/128 million). Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round draft pick were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving. Boston currently only has four players returning from last year, two have played for multiple years on the team, and one member of the starting lineup is returning.
The reasoning behind the changes in the Celtics roster is a bit complicated, but the trade of Bradley was mainly done to free up cap space, which facilitated the signing of Hayward. The addition of Hayward fills the Celtics main need from last season, a second offensive star. He can shoot from anywhere, drive to the basket, pass, and guard multiple positions on defense. Hayward played college basketball at Butler University under current Celtics Head Coach, Brad Stevens. Coach Stevens and Hayward have had success together in the past, and during Hayward’s two years in Indianapolis, he led Butler to the national championship game, where they narrowly lost to Duke in the final seconds. It will be exciting to see what they can accomplish together in the NBA
The biggest trade this offseason in all of the NBA was the Celtics trade of all-star point guard and emotional leader Isaiah Thomas, defensive stalwart Jae Crowder, and a probable top 5 pick in next years draft for Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving is a major upgrade over Isaiah Thomas because he is a better playmaker, has better dribble moves and handles, is more able to involve other players on offense, and is a more competent and versatile defender. Thomas is currently injured, and is predicted to not be able to play until January 2018. This, coupled with him only having one year left on his contract made Thomas expendable if the right offer came along. Crowder was also nonessential after the addition of small forwards, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, and Gordon Hayward. Irving is an incredible player, and at only 25 years old he may not have hit his prime yet.
Do all of these moves make the Celtics a contender for the championship? Maybe not this year, as they have a lot of competition. The Cavaliers are still extremely strong, the Warriors have retained their core players, and teams like the Thunder and Rockets have each gotten much better and are looking to compete as well. Regardless of how well the Celtics perform this year, the future looks bright. A balanced combination of veterans, stars, young talent, draft picks, and favorable contracts hints that this group will age well and be in a prime position to contend for and win many championships in the near future.