The Boston Celtics’ future is brighter than ever

Brad Stevens

It’s not easy to tell what makes Brad Stevens one of the two best coaches in the NBA. Outwardly there’s nothing particularly remarkable about him, but like another Boston sports legend from Indiana, he’s taking a Celtics team nobody was paying any attention to and turning it into a force.

Stevens is more deeply rooted in Hoosier Country than Larry Bird or even Gene Hackman. It’s not clear if he ever left the state until he was 37 when Danny Ainge asked him to coach the Celtics. He was born in Indianapolis, went to high school in Zionsville (an Indianapolis suburb), and played college ball for a small division three school called Depauw in Greencastle.

He graduated in 1999 and would take an assistant coaching position at Butler in 2001, but what happened to Brad Stevens in that two year span remains a mystery. Some say he was working for a pharmaceutical company. Others say he was hit with a tranquilizer dart and brought to some backcountry Indiana laboratory, where he was forced to watch Red Auerbach coaching footage for two years with his eyelids held open with a metal harness.

The Celtics are nine games over .500 and have won five of their last six, including a win at home against the Clippers, and more impressively a win in Cleveland against The Tyrant King James and his gang of mercenaries. This would be an impressive feat for any team, but with the cast of characters in Boston, it borders on impossible.

Consider this: The Celtics have a better record than the Hawks, who finished first in the east last season. They have a better record than the Heat who have Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, and a very impressive supporting cast of characters. The Pacers, Bulls, Wizards, and Knicks all have superstars on their roster, and yet the Celtics are ahead of them all.

 Isaiah Thomas was the only All-Star for the Boston Celtics, who are currently 3rd in the Eastern Conference standings.

The talent the Celtics have is underwhelming. Led by pint-sized All-Star Isaiah Thomas, the rest of the team looks like a who’s who of guys you’d throw into a trade to sweeten the deal. And yet here they are in third place and set up to have a potentially monster year in the offseason. They hold Brooklyn’s 2016 draft pick through one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, and they’ll have enough cap space to sign two max-contract players.

The Celtics will not win a championship this season. There’s almost no chance they’ll beat Cleveland in a seven game series, and should that very unlikely event transpire, they’ll receive the biggest walloping in NBA Finals history against the Warriors or the Spurs. But within three years they’ll be one of the best teams in the NBA, barring a fuck up of epic proportions from Danny Ainge, which isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility.

Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma for Jeff Green in 2011, and three months later the Celtics got their collective asses kicked by LeBron James and the Heat. It didn’t work out the way they envisioned it would, but the trade still made sense on paper. Perkins was never a stat guy, and Green was young, athletic, and averaging 15 points per game. But Perkins was the Celtics’ emotional leader and enforcer. Without him LeBron and Wade had free reign to drive to the hoop without fear of Boston’s behemoth. They got killed on the boards and looked overmatched, and eventually lost the series 4-1.

But as Buddha says, “Do not dwell on the past, do not dream of the future. Keep your mind on the present moment and consume lots of Wild Turkey.” I’m adhering to one of these sentiments today. The real question for Ainge is how to proceed in the next six months. Two trade rumors have been flying around in the media. The first, is a deal with Houston that would send Dwight Howard to Boston. A disastrous prospect, as Howard will never win a championship under any circumstances. He’s a mental midget, and likely to implode and shut down under the slightest hint of pressure.

The second would be a deal with Sacramento, which would land Boston with Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins. Most Celtics fans are 100% against this deal. They say he’s a cancer and a team killer. They say he’s at odds with his coaches and won’t ever be part of a winning team. I have a hard time accepting this, as he’s been a part of hugely successful basketball teams throughout his life. He led his high school team to the Alabama state championship, and as a freshmen led Kentucky to the Elite Eight alongside John Wall. But Cousins has yet to play for an NBA team that’s won 30 games. After five years in the league, I’d be pissed off too.

The crux of the situation is Boston would certainly have to give up Brooklyn’s draft pick to acquire Cousins. This is really a no brainer, because no matter who that pick is used for he’s not going to average 27 points and 11 rebounds per game. The scary thing is Cousins is only getting better. In five years Cousins’ most made three pointers in a season is four. This year he’s made 52, shooting a respectable 35 percent. If there’s a move for Ainge to make in the days leading up to the February 18th trade deadline, this is it.

Ainge isn’t without his faults, but the Celtics fanbase should trust him to pull the trigger on the right move should it present itself as it did in 2007, when he landed Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, which eventually brought title number 17 to Boston. Keep in mind those deals didn’t happen until the NBA draft. Patients is key, at least until July. If the Celtics still look mediocre then, it’s time to break out the pitchforks.

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