Who would’ve thought just a few years after trading away Paul Pierce as well as Kevin Garnett for a stock load of draft picks in a league dominated by the likes of super teams , would the Boston Celtics be back in the light of contention. Team President Danny Ainge has not been quick to make any sudden or drastic moves that would immediately impact the face of the organization but rather he has been patient and persistent in strategically using draft picks along with an emerging Head Coach in Brad Stevens at his disposal and building gradually while being competitive. Long gone are the days of the big four in Boston consisting of All-Stars Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce , and Kevin Garnett especially after the Miami Heat dominated the league for a about four years.
After the Big 3 era had come to an end in Boston and with Rajon Rondo traded in the 2014- 2015 season to the Dallas Mavericks , it was beginning to seem as if the Boston Celtics were due for a long tenuous rebuilding process that would take multiple seasons before the organization could make some noise in the Eastern Conference again. From the Rondo trade Boston was able to acquire Jae Crowder along with future draft picks that Ainge would continue to use at his disposal.
Fast forward to the 2015 trade deadline, the Celtics were able to acquire Isaiah Thomas from the Phoenix Suns via trade. At first Thomas was only asked to be a scorer with a limited role coming off the bench that could be a solid piece to add to a back court that already had the likes of Avery Bradley along with Marcus Smart.
In a season that didn’t have much expectation when Isaiah Thomas came to Boston quickly had a turn of events as the Celtics won the vast majority of their remaining games on the schedule that season and were able to secure a playoff spot in the first round against the Cleveland cavaliers. After a hard-fought first round series of making the Cavaliers earn each victory, the Celtics would only look to continue to improve their roster as well as establish an identity under Brad Stevens. The Celtics continued to improve their roster with assets such as Evan Turner to give a spark to the team as another ball handler, along with solid role players such as Kelly Olynyk , Tyler Zeller, and Jared Sullinger. The Celtics followed up the next season making the playoffs again but falling short to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. By this point Isaiah Thomas had established himself as an elite point guard that can score in bunches with the pressure on.
Now we have reached the 2016-2017 Season where the stigma of Boston being a rebuilding franchise had slowly gone away. The Celtics made a a great free agent signing that summer landing Al Horford who is an All-Star big man in our league as well as a vocal leader on the court and another veteran in the locker room. Horford added much-needed veteran playoff experience to a fairly young roster.
In the 2016-2017 NBA campaign the Boston Celtics, while being led by 2 time All-Star Isaiah Thomas, boasted a record of 53-29, gained a regular season edge over the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers to earn the number one spot in the eastern conference. Isaiah Thomas capped off a phenomenal season by being third in the league in scoring averaging 28.9 points per game, which also ranked him with 2nd behind Larry Bird for the all time single season scoring list.
As we are well aware it’s not all peaches and cream when it comes to the business of sports , which was well evident as to what transpired from last years playoffs through out this years off-season. Amidst the playoffs , Thomas had tragedy strike as his sister Chyna Thomas was killed in a car accident in Federal Way, Washington. Thomas, who was taking the news bad, was welcomed with love from the city of Boston and all the fans that were in attendance the following game.
He continued his stellar play throughout the playoffs even through a hip injury which would become the focal point of what the Celtics would do in the near future. Thomas who had just finished his career year in Boston was looking to get a max contract after the final year on his current deal. Once the playoff run ended the Celtics immediate focus turned to the draft as well as free agency. The Celtics had the right to a top draft pick which turned out to be the number one draft pick.
The Celtics ended up trading the number one pick to the Philadelphia 76’ers for the number three draft pick along with a future draft pick , which wasn’t a bad deal considering the 2017 NBA Draft was filled with so many great players that you could make the argument that you’re getting a top pick even with the third draft pick. That third pick turned out to be Jayson Tatum, a wing player out of Duke university. Following the draft the Celtics focused on winning in free agency with players like Isaiah Thomas making a big push to persuade stars to sign with Boston. The Celtics were able to land Gordon Hayward who was coming off of a career year while being named an All-Star for the first time. Following this in what had already been a crazy free agency had come the news of Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers no longer desiring to be a part of that organization and wanted to be traded elsewhere.
Amongst weeks and weeks of rumors and speculation from the media, a deal was put together to trade Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and an unprotected 2018 first round draft pick from the Brooklyn Nets. There was much speculation and backlash as to why this trade happened especially on Boston’s end seeing as they just traded away their franchise player whom had done so much for the organization especially showing up for work right after his younger sister had died.
Many view the deal as an upgrade for Boston considering that Isaiah Thomas is a 5’9 point guard which is viewed as a liability on defense and having a hip injury that many didn’t know the full extent of, many teams may have not been willing to pay top dollar for him in the near future. Thomas used the Players Tribune to express how the trade did hurt from an emotional standpoint but said he does understand that the league is a business and that things like this happen.
Fast forward to now , the Boston Celtics have a drastically different team with much uncertainty about what will happen seeing that the new additions have learn how to play together. There is much optimism from a talent perspective about what this team can do with the likes of Kyrie, Hayward running the show and with young players such as Tatum and Jaylen Brown that seem to have much potential. The Celtics are deemed to be the team that could potentially surpass the Cleveland cavaliers as the team to beat in the east. Only time will tell if the trade for Kyrie was the right move long-term. The Celtics have a lot of talent, potential, as well as a few proven veterans with playoff and now even championship success, it is more than apparent that they believe they have what it takes to now compete for a championship.