The Boston Celtics are having a rough 2020-21 campaign. With 32 games in the books, they sit at 15-17 on the year and rank ninth in the Eastern Conference.
Given that many regarded Boston as a potential NBA Finals contender, the precipitous drop-off has caught a lot of folks by surprise.
During a recent interview with NBC Sports Boston, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck pointed to the departure of Kyrie Irving to the Brooklyn Nets as a big reason for his team’s current woes.
“We had hoped Kyrie would stay forever and lead us all the way…that change touched off a lot of stuff”
Wyc Grousbeck on Kyrie Irving’s decision to leave Boston pic.twitter.com/aiSfb8CCZd
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 24, 2021
“We had hoped Kyrie would stay forever and lead us all the way,” he said.
“He’s on maybe the best team on the league right now and so that’s that. That change touched off a lot of stuff because he left, we weren’t maybe able to recruit free agents in the same way, and a bit of a domino effect. But it is what it is. We went for it with Kyrie. We had a good year with him. He tried hard and then he moved on.”
Grousbeck’s point is certainly somewhat accurate. Clearly the Celtics had invested in the idea that an Irving-Gordon Hayward nucleus, coupled with the promise of a rapidly-developing Jayson Tatum, would be enough to entice free agents.
That plan fell apart when Irving dipped.
Of course, what Irving’s departure doesn’t explain is why the Celtics have consistently dropped the ball on potential moves since then.
This is the outfit Michelle Wie wore on the day she got Rudy Giuliani so hot and bothered. https://t.co/CvM3w4iUQT
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 21, 2021
Boston was very much in the running for James Harden, but ultimately opted not to pull the trigger on a deal for a very odd reason. Moreover, the Celtics have been linked to a big trade involving the New Orleans Pelicans, are one of three serious suitors for J.J. Redick, and one of two legit contenders for Hassan Whiteside’s services.
Yet for whatever reason, general manager Danny Ainge simply refuses to do anything to improve the roster.
Jeanie Buss shoots her shot with the GOAT.https://t.co/Nmu4oJAf7w
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 17, 2021
There are rumors that Boston is plotting two big moves, but thus far nothing has materialized. And for all the brouhaha about how the organization planned to utilize Hayward’s $28.5 million trade exception, despite having three great players to choose from, nothing has been done.
As presently constructed, the Celtics cannot compete for a title. Heck, they may not even be able to make the playoffs. They can lick their wounds over Irving’s departure all they want, but it won’t change the reality that changes need to be made. The sooner they commit to that, the quicker they’ll climb out of this increasingly deepening hole.