2013-14 Boston Celtics Preview

(SportsNetwork.com) - At this time, we ask for a moment of silence to reflect on the most recent championship run of the most storied franchise in the NBA - the Boston Celtics.

Thank you.

The Celtics are in a complete, total and very public rebuild.

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, two mortal-lock Hall of Famers, were traded to Atlantic Division rivals, the Brooklyn Nets for some fill-in pieces and a bushel of first-round draft picks.

Doc Rivers, the head coach of this incarnation of a Celtics dynasty, wanted nothing to do with the rebuild and was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future first-rounder.

The only things remaining in Boston are President of Basketball of Operations Danny Ainge, the parquet floor and Rajon Rondo, although more on him in a bit.

"It's a challenge and I welcome that challenge. I'm re-energized to do it again," said Ainge. "Being through it, I think the experience will help me. It's almost like I'm walking with a limp and I need surgery on my foot, and right now we're going through surgery. You hope that everything's going to be better, and I'll be able to play again."

One of the first steps in the rebuilding process was to bring fresh-faced Brad Stevens as head coach. He put Butler on the map, taking the mid-major school to consecutive national championship games and now has the task of restoring glory to the proud Celtics franchise.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be here," said Stevens.

He will need everything he can get from Rondo in order for the turn around to move at the correct speed. Problem is, Rondo is coming off surgery from a torn ACL in February and his return date is in question.

"It sounds like it would be unlikely that he would be playing at the very start of the regular season," said Stevens.

Without Rondo, the Celtics will field a roster of young players and underachieving veterans. The postseason, where the Celtics have been the last six seasons, including a NBA title in 2008 and a Finals loss two years later, seems out of reach.

In Rondo's absence (his spot should be filled by Avery Bradley), Jeff Green will handle the scoring load. First-round pick Kelly Olynyk should see plenty of action and Gerald Wallace, who came over for Pierce and Garnett, is a capable pro.

This roster has some pieces for the future, but this will not be a banner season for the men in green, a team used to hanging banners.

2012-13 Results: 41-40, 3rd in Atlantic; lost to New York in East quarterfinals.

ADDITIONS: HC Brad Stevens, C/F Kelly Olynyk, F Gerald Wallace, F/C Kris Humphries, G MarShon Brooks


PG- Avery Bradley SG- Courtney Lee SF- Jeff Green PF- Brandon Bass C- Kelly Olynyk

KEY RESERVES: F Gerald Wallace, G MarShon Brooks, F/C Kris Humphries, F Jared Sullinger

FRONTCOURT: Green had a pedestrian regular season last season, but really excelled in the playoffs. During the postseason, Green averaged 20.3 ppg, which was up almost 8.0 ppg from the regular season. He can score and shot 45 percent from three-point range in the Celtics first-round playoff exit at the hands of the New York Knicks. He is above-average, but, for a team rebuilding, he is scheduled to make $27,855,000 over the next three years. That's a pretty steep price for someone with a heart condition.

Bass is a banger with a very good mid-range jump shot. He is filling time for Olynyk, who may translate into a power forward at this level.

Olynyk was taken 13th by the Dallas Mavericks and traded to Boston. His offensive game should transition smoothly to the professional level as he can score many different ways, both with his back to the basket, or facing up. Olynyk notched 25 points in his summer league debut in Orlando. His defense will be a problem. He's not quick enough or strong enough.

BACKCOURT: Bradley is an elite defender who assumed the point guard spot when Rondo went down. He played well at times, but he's not a natural point, nor is he a natural on the offensive side. Bradley shot 40 percent from the field and 31 percent from long range.

Lee averaged a career-low 7.8 ppg last season. He did shoot 46 percent from the field and 37 percent from long range.

BENCH: Wallace was an integral part of the Brooklyn Nets success last season. He will probably see more minutes than any other bench player, especially if the Celtics want to go small with Green at the big forward and Bass at center. Wallace still has something left in the tank, despite a nine-season low of 7.7 ppg in 2012-13. He was the fifth option with the Nets.

Humphries also came from Brooklyn, where he fell out of both Avery Johnson's and P.J. Carlesimo's rotation. He is actually a pretty proficient rebounder and average scorer. As a bench guy, Humphries isn't going to kill you.

Brooks had an awesome rookie season in 2011-12, averaging 12.6 ppg. He tumbled significantly last season, only scoring 5.4 ppg. A change of scenery will do Brooks well.

Jared Sullinger cracked the Celtics' starting lineup last season before his troublesome back injury ended his rookie campaign. He has a history of injury problems and Sullinger was arrested on domestic assault charges over the summer.

COACHING: Stevens is one of the brightest minds in basketball, but the question begs, can a college coach have success in the NBA? History doesn't seem to think so, but Stevens has a decent chance.

First, he's only 37 years old and the youngest coach in the league. He can relate to a young roster. Plus, according to reports, Stevens received a six- year contract, so Ainge has invested in Stevens as his coach during the future turbulence.

Stevens is pro statistical analysis and all about the team, not individual play. Every coach is probably like that, but Stevens is also anti self- promotion.

OUTLOOK: The playoffs are a dream for this Celtics roster. Yes, the Eastern Conference is top-heavy, but without Rondo, who may not be back until December, this Boston team is slender on talent.

With Rondo, the C's could actually be something of a surprise. Olynyk looked good in the summer league, Green is a legit scorer and Wallace, Humphries, Brooks, Lee and Bradley are all decent hands.

Rondo is an elite point guard who sometimes butted heads with the likes of Pierce, Garnett or Ray Allen. How will he handle being the man on the Celtics, albeit the man in the middle of a massive rebuild? Could go either way which may make Rondo expendable at the deadline. He has one year left after this one at $12.9 million.

Ainge has a plan. Stevens is his guy. Ainge got a ton of first-rounders in exchange for Rivers, Pierce and Garnett, so they can rebuild over time. (Which will be necessary since Wallace has three more years left on his deal.)

This season will be the first step...just not one toward the postseason.