We know one thing for sure about the Boston Celtics' 2013-14 season: It happened. Or so our sources say.
The Celtics, having drafted the newest and most Canadian "next Dirk" (Kelly Olynyk) and having hired NCAA wunderkind coach Brad Stevens of Butler, were poised to start off their rebuilding season with a bit of hope. After completing trades jettisoning off the remaining members of its Big Three, the team had organized assets to place it in a good spot in the future, though not so much last season.
Lacking much scoring punch outside of Jeff Green, the team had a rough time keeping up with opponents, and so here it is in the thick of the NBA Draft lottery with the No. 6 pick. Will the Celtics make a big move for Kevin Love or keep adding to their core?
SG: Avery Bradley (RFA), Jerryd Bayless (UFA), Chris Babb
The Celtics could really use a few things in their starting squad. First and foremost is frontcourt help, as Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger don't quite cut the mustard at power forward, and they could improve their center depth with Olynyk starting. They could stand to have a finishing threat at the rim and from the post, or from the triple-threat at the elbow as a big man. The team struggled to finish at the rim -- sixth-worst within five feet, per NBA.com -- and couldn't get to the free-throw line much, either.
Someone who has been mentioned previously and could find his way to the Celtics is Love. Boston has the draft picks and useable assets to make both salary and value work if the Timberwolves find themselves without any better offers for their disgruntled big man. Playing with Rajon Rondo and ... not much else isn't exactly an upgrade for Love, who wants to be on a contender. However, the Celtics have turned water into wine before, and the last time they did, they got a ring out of it.
They could also use some more dynamic and efficient scoring guards who can handle the ball a bit, finish at the rim and perhaps shoot the three. Avery Bradley's not a bad fit already, but if there's good talent available, they might jump at it and let Bradley go in free agency.
The Celtics also have a plethora of non-guaranteed contracts. Keith Bogans has two years at about $5.4 million each, but both are non-guaranteed. Then, Phil Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb each have unguaranteed deals over the next few years for a little under $1 million each season. (All contract financials via ShamSports.com)
Several reports have suggested the Celtics are locked in to Aaron Gordon, the athletic forward out of Arizona. An exceptional defender and rebounder, Gordon could give the Celtics' starting frontcourt a defensive jolt, but Gordon's lack of a dependable jump shot could limit his potential.
Though the Celtics are clearly already set at point guard with Rondo, they could get a talented guard in Marcus Smart, who is projected to go in that top-eight range. Smart's bullish strength driving to the paint and finishing at the rim would add a scoring punch off the bench, and his defensive intensity would add to the defensive depth of the team. He could also play a bit of shooting guard, though improving his jump shot should be a focus to help in that regard.
Indiana's Noah Vonleh is also a good fit for Boston, should he fall to the Celtics at No. 6. A great rebounder and defender with size and athleticism, Vonleh immediately offers versatile defensive advantages. But he's also fairly talented on offense, gifted with a solid jump shot and decent touch around the rim with either hand.
Given his injuries, Joel Embiid could slip down, as well. If so, Boston may happily snatch him up.
In the way of future picks it could possibly package in a trade, Boston has the Clippers' 2015 first-round pick, the 76ers' first-rounder (protected 1-14 in 2015, then becomes two second-round picks), the Nets' first-round picks in 2016 and 2018, as well as a number of second-round picks. The team also owns all of its own first-round picks.
All of these are assets the Celtics can move easily for Love, too. Alas, if they can't, they may also think about trading Rondo and acquiring even more assets to rebuild.