After a thrilling seven-game series against Miami ended the Celtics’ season, the team was thrust into a state of uncertainty unseen since the start of the new Big Three era in 2007.
Would Kevin Garnett retire? Would he leave via free agency? What about Ray Allen? Was he wounded enough by Boston’s repeated attempts to trade him—not to mention the loss of his starting job—to walk away? And if those guys left, would Paul Pierce demand a trade so as to avoid yet another rebuilding project?
There was opportunity, too. With Allen and KG’s contracts coming off the books, the Celtics found themselves with ample space under the salary cap. Would they use it to try to sign a marquee free agent, say Deron Williams? And if they did that, what would happen to Rajon Rondo, the team’s dynamic point guard?
Despite the various possibilities, only one of those scenarios came to pass. Allen left money on the table and elected to sign with the World Champion Heat, a painful defection despite his decreased minutes and effectiveness in Boston.
But it wasn’t all bad news for the Celts, not by a long shot. President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge had what looks to be one of his best offseasons since bringing KG and Allen to town, bolstering the bench with Jason Terry and Courtney Lee and bringing back the talented Jeff Green, who had missed the previous season with heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. Ainge also selected a player who many experts believe to be one of the steals of the draft in power forward Jared Sullinger.
Still, the answers to June’s questions only lead to new ones about this year’s team. The answers will be the difference between the Celtics returning to contender status, something they seemed on the cusp of just a few short months ago, or just another middling playoff team struggling to make it to the second round.