Finally, there’s some interesting basketball being played in mid-April in Boston.
From 2008-13, this time of year was reserved for resting elderly basketball bodies and the actual outcomes of games didn’t really matter (aside from a slight seeding bump, here or there). This April, and particularly, this week – every game is crucial for the Celtics. The C’s are in Philadelphia Monday to face the Lords of the Losing Streak, the 76ers, and wrap up their 2013-14 regular season at TD Garden Wednesday as they host the Wizards.
Most Celtics fans are hoping for a pair of losses to wrap up this forgettable season, in order to improve their chances at landing a top overall pick in June’s loaded NBA Draft. Boston didn’t do itself any favors in terms of “tanking” this past weekend as it beat Charlotte and Cleveland. With those wins, the C’s (25-55) currently own the fifth worst record in the NBA. With another victory this week, they could fall back to sixth in terms of pre-lottery draft order. Last week, during a nine-game losing streak, the C’s looked as though they were coasting to the third worst record in the league.
Regardless of the results of the final two 2013-14 games, the end of Wednesday night’s game will signal the start of what could very well prove to be the most interesting offseason in franchise history. The Celtics have lit off plenty of fireworks during the summer months over the years (the Pierce and Garnett trade last summer, the Garnett and Allen trades in 2008), but Celtics boss Danny Ainge hinted last week on a radio interview that most every day of this offseason could resemble the Fourth of July.
Incoming lottery picks aside, here’s a look at players on the current Celtics roster that should stay and should go:
The big fear heading into this season was that the Celtics would make a playoff push once Rondo returned. That did not happen. In fact, the Celtics have been a worse team, record-wise, since No. 9 returned against the Lakers in January. The C’s went 14-26 prior to Rondo’s return and have gone 11-29 since that time. That doesn’t mean the C’s should give up on Rondo. Unless Ainge is given a Godfather deal, Rondo could still be a centerpiece on the next great Boston team. Decision: Keep.
Humphries spent the first month of the 2013-14 season rotting on the Celtics bench. As the calendar turned to December, Humphries began receiving more and more minutes and as it turns out the Celtics had their best month of the season in December (6-6). Humphries destroyed his previous image in Boston as a diva and instead has turned out to be a classic Boston player on the court – a hustler that is more than interested in doing all the little things to win. Decision: Keep.
Bass seemed like the perfect player to jettison at the trade deadline to help a contender. But with the Celtics poised to be right back in the mix in the Eastern Conference next season, keeping a player like Bass wouldn’t be a bad idea. His contract is mostly reasonable ($6.9 million) and he has already proven himself as a solid postseason force. Bass, who averaged 10.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, is a pro’s pro. Decision: Keep.
Ainge said when he drafted Olynyk last summer that the Gonzaga product would never be a superstar. A season in to his NBA career, most would agree. Olynyk is a nice player and showed he can have big games here and there – 21 points against Atlanta on New Year’s Eve and 25 points against the Lakers on the night Rondo returned. But if Ainge is serious about a blockbuster trade, the team giving Boston legit veterans would absolutely target a young player like Olynyk to be included in a package deal. Decision: Dump.
Like Kelly Olynyk, Bradley would likely need to be a part of any blockbuster trade the C’s swing. He has improved his shot, but his injuries continue to mount. Decision: Dump.
Green is enjoying his best offensive season as a pro, but the numbers (16.7 points per game) ring hollow. Decision: Dump.
A no-brainer keeper. Like Rondo, unless Ainge is given the world ... Decision: Keep.
Could this guy be the basketball version of John Lackey? The C’s will have an awfully difficult time moving his contract. Decision: Keep ... unless you can dump.
His expiring contract next season will almost certainly be used in a trade. Decision: Dump
The Celtics like his work ethic on the defensive end. Decision: Keep.
Would be a great asset off the bench for a playoff team. He’s a free agent this summer. Why not bring him back for cheap? Decision: Keep.
There’s a greater chance that Larry Bird plays another game for the Green than Bogans. Decision: Dump.
He’s a project and is coming back from knee surgery. Could either be the next Leon Powe or the next Fab Melo for Boston. Decision: Keep.
He’s signed on the cheap for the next three years. The beauty of the contract is that if Johnson regresses, the C’s can cut him immediately and it won’t burn their books. Decision: Keep.
The future of guys like Pressey will largely depend on who the Celtics draft this summer. Remember, the C’s also have a mid-first round pick coming their way in addition to the lottery pick. Boston native Shabazz Napier (currently projected as a mid-to-late first rounder by NBADraft.net) could be there for the taking. Decision: Dump.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS