In Thursday's 2013 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics made the first step in what fans hope will be a swift rebuilding effort.
By the end of the night, the team collected two new big men with differing styles, Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson. For now, though, it's hard to focus on these new guys after the blockbuster trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the divisional rival Brooklyn Nets.
Going into the night, Boston's goals were simple. The Celtics had to add talent to the roster, and if a trade was going to be made, they had to get value for their aging assets. The only question that remains is whether they succeeded on both fronts.
Let's start with the two youngsters because, in reality, it was supposed to be their night.
Boston traded up to 13th to select Olynyk and gave up its first-round pick and two second-round picks to do so. Olynyk had a phenomenal year for Gonzaga and projects as a stretch four in the NBA. He's not a great defender in the post, but his size and ability as as a spot-up shooter will make him a valuable piece to the puzzle in Boston.
Grantland did a nice scouting report on Olynyk, and here is Brett Koremenos' ultimate projection:
Olynyk faces a positional crisis — he is likely too slow to guard power forwards, particularly when teams go small, and he lacks the strength to battle opposing centers. Despite that, Olynyk has enough tools to turn into a reliable backup and has an upside as an unorthodox, but effective, big man.
Iverson, on the other hand, is a good defender and excellent rebounder in the low post. Standing at 7'0" and 260 pounds, he will be able to take a beating down low and provide valuable minutes early in his career. He has limited offensive upside, but he projects as a solid rotational player as a second-round pick.
Now to the story that stole the show. In return for the three veterans, the Celtics received Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace (and his massive contract) and MarShon Brooks, along with first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The trade won't go through until July 10, when the moratorium lifts and Pierce's team option can be picked up.
The Celtics' takedown is complete ... KG and Paul Pierce are gone http://t.co/WratXf7DlN— ESPNBoston (@ESPNBoston) June 28, 2013
While I think we can all agree that this trade puts the Nets right in the thick of contention, we're more concerned about what it does for Boston.
Put simply, it doesn't look that great right now. The Celtics are taking back a lot of money in salary and losing a lot of talent.
This trade was all about the draft picks, though. Three first-round selections are great assets to build a team with, especially if they are close to the lottery. Unfortunately, the Nets now look like a powerhouse and surely expect those picks to be in the late 20s, if not the 30th overall selection.
No evaluation of this trade would be complete without checking in with the Twitter world, would it? Well, anyone watching ESPN on Thursday night knows that Bill Simmons was not thrilled.
That rumored Celtics-Nets trade is so bad for Boston that Doc Rivers just quit on the Celtics again.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) June 27, 2013
Not everyone thinks the move is bad, though. In an ESPN panel that asked whether it was a good move for the Celtics, Jeremy Gordon of Brooklyn's Finest had this much to say:
Good move, because the Celtics weren't going to contend with this core and have positioned themselves to reload extensively through the draft over the next few years while getting back some of their cap space. If they can immediately deal Wallace's contract, even better. Better to rip off the Band-Aid than slowly and painfully pull it off.
What grade do you give the Celtics on draft night (trade included)?
If I'm a Celtics fan, I'm embracing the move. In professional sports, teams that fail to fully commit to a rebuild (see: Milwaukee Bucks) find themselves perpetually fighting for the 8th seed in the playoffs, never to make any noise in the playoffs. Trading Paul Pierce and KG may be painful, but it's the right thing to do.
After all, this franchise is as storied as any, with 17 championships in its illustrious existence. To slowly fade into irrelevance is not the Celtics thing to do.
It may have been a tough night (and week) to be a Boston sports fan, but take solace in the fact that they're committing to building a contender for the long haul.