The Celtics will look different during the 2019-20 season, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you viewed Boston’s 2018-19 roster and Danny Ainge’s maneuvering this summer.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton handed out offseason grades to the NBA’s Eastern Conference teams in a piece published Friday. He took into account the draft, free agency and trades, and ultimately graded based on how well each team utilized its cap space and picks rather than just on which organizations did the most to improve.
The Celtics received a “B-” from Pelton, who praised Boston’s ability to adjust on the fly.
The Celtics, of course, lost Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets and Al Horford to the Philadelphia 76ers, but they landed both Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter, who figure to join Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward in Boston’s starting lineup this season.
Here’s more from Pelton:
While adding Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter couldn’t possibly have been the Celtics’ Plan A at the start of the offseason, landing an All-NBA third-team pick was a solid save for a summer that began with visions of pairing Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving.
The Celtics couldn’t control Irving’s wandering eye, but they chose this outcome (using cap space) over attempting to re-sign Al Horford and Terry Rozier using their Bird rights. Given the price Rozier commanded, that was probably the right call.
Boston has a better chance of cobbling together an effective center rotation on the cheap than finding a quality point guard for less than the max. However, I probably would have preferred another center available with the room midlevel exception like Ed Davis to Kanter.
The Nets received the highest grade in the East from Pelton, landing an “A-” thanks to the additions of Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan, while sacrificing relatively little from their 2018-19 roster. The Charlotte Hornets received the lowest grade, an “F,” largely because they lost Walker to the Celtics while ending up with former Boston point guard Terry Rozier on a questionable contract.
The Celtics went 49-33 last season, earning them the No. 4 seed in the East. They swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the NBA playoffs but stood little chance against the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round.
It was a disappointing result for Boston, which entered the season with NBA Finals aspirations. But you can bet Brad Stevens’ remodeled bunch will have a chip on its shoulder when the 2019-20 season tips off.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images