Originally written on Celtics Green ...a boston celtics blog.  |  Last updated 9/11/13
This will be a strange year.  The Boston Celtics have a variety of needs, some pressing, others that can be set on the back burner.  These needs are also often at cross purposes.  How these various and divergent paths are prioritized and woven together will ultimately define how “successful” this season is viewed. The new coach needs to meld together a group most of whom need to be introduced to each other.  He needs to build cohesiveness, chemistry, and the drive to work and improve together.  The general manager that hired him, on the other hand, will be trying tear down the house--to convert many of those assets into better and more flexible pieces.  Stevens will be trying to get his players, and team, to improve every day—giving it their all and battling nightly.  Ainge will be trying, on a conflicting tangent, to sell off the ill fitting pieces, at a premium price.  The coach and team push to compete each game; while the front office looks toward the off season and future years. The young future need all the playing time they can profitably absorb.  The complementary vets, most of whom will not be here in two years, need to play and produce in order to maximize their “flip” value.  Compounding this crunch for playing time is the fact that two-thirds of the team’s roster play either shooting guard or power forward.  Will the distribution of playing time, trying to serve two masters, end up serving neither well? Rondo’s return, or the delay thereof, brings its own set of conflicting ends.  The undrafted rookie Pressey would no doubt be well served if his introduction were measured rather than being tossed into the deep end.  Distributing the ball among 10 shooting guards and forwards will be dicey.  Holding together a team of divergent and ill-fitting parts would go much smoother with a steady veteran hand rather than a rookie who the game’s speed is keeping in a frazzled state.  Yet it behooves the Celtics to play Rondo’s return extremely cautiously—this isn’t the year to contend, but rather the year to build and groom; and rushing back a central figure before his strength, stamina, and speed is fully recovered is downright foolhardy.   You could make similar arguments for Sullinger’s back and Olynyk’s foot.  Further compounding this availability/rehab problem is the fact that almost a quarter of the season’s games will be played in the first month.  There are an awful lot of kinks to be worked out and there are almost no practice days through the first 19 games. The only pure center on the team is an unknown Euro who played second string and only part-time last year.  Do you develop your rookie center?  Do you even have a center who, if played, will develop better on the parquet than with a stint in the D-league in Maine?  Or would it be better to play the stop-gap game with a strong, relatively tall, veteran power forward playing out of position?  And what is “better”—a better record, better growth of the team as a whole, better positioning for hitting the ramp running next year (or hitting the draft in June)? Even at the small forward position, where the depth might be strongest although shortest, do you serve Gerald Wallace’s value-recovery by giving him half the minutes—or does this just impede the emergence of Jeff Green who appeared to be coming on strong at the end of last year? I think this new marriage of GM Danny Ainge and college-to-pros coach Brad Stevens will be a rousing success; but there is little doubt that this first season will find them often pulling the Green wagon train in opposite directions.  I’m also sure that each will keenly appreciate the other’s conflicting needs, but that is of little consolation in the heat and immediate demands of the moment.  There is, without question, a similar push/pull that will be played out amongst the factions of the blogosphere of the Celtic Nation.  Hopefully we will all try to keep in mind the diverging needs of the big and small pictures; and regardless of the side on which we find ourselves, hold on to the temperance and restraint to indulge the opposition view.  For many of us, swinging wildly from short to long term considerations will be the norm; and the subsequent emotional seesaw may become the most defining feature of this season.  Be kind, be understanding, be passionate—but breathe deeply and pause to reflect that we are all following the Celtic Way.[Discuss on CG Forums!]
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