The Boston Celtics have had one of the most interesting past five years in recent history. After winning just 25 games in the 2013-14 season, Boston decided it was time for a change. The following years were filled with big trades, heart-breaking departures, and big signings. This unique rebuild brought a lot of attention back to Boston. Let’s look back on the top five biggest moves that got the Celtics to where they are today.
The Departure of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett
We start our journey in the 2013 offseason. The Celtics had just come off an unfortunate 1st round exit at the hands of Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. As the Celtics team grew older, changes needed to be made. Then came that day in June. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, along with veteran Jason Terry, were traded to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for a collection of players and three first-round picks that would prove to be huge in the future.
This was the first big step in the rebuilding of the Boston Celtics, and it was executed perfectly by GM Danny Ainge. This trade included future picks that would turn out to be lottery selections in 2016, 2017, and 2018. The 2018 pick was used to acquire Kyrie from the Cavs this past year. Arguably the start of the Celtics long-awaited rebuild, this trade helped spark new life into a dying Celtics squad.
Celtics Draft Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum
Whether that be Paul Pierce or Larry Bird, the Celtics have also used the draft to their advantage. In 2016 this trend continued. The Celtics selected 19-year old Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick. Brown was alright in college but has proven to be a tremendous player from his tenure with the C’s. Brown is averaging 10 points per game after having a bit of a down season. However, he is just one half of this dynamic duo in Boston.
19-year old Jayson Tatum was drafted 3rd in 2017 by the Celtics. Tatum, a former Duke star, has exploded as a top player in this league. He averaged just under 14 PPG in his rookie season, along with 5 RPG. Tatum was a contender for Rookie of the Year as well. He has proven not only to the city of Boston but also to the league that he will be a force in this league for years to come.
Celtics Sign Al Horford
Arguably the biggest free agent signing in the past 5 years for the Celtics came in 2016, just after the drafting on Jaylen Brown. Al Horford signed a four-year 113 million dollar contract with the Celtics. Al came off of a great tenure with the Hawks and continued this trend with the Celtics. Since coming to Boston, Al has averaged 13pts and 6 rebounds per game. He is also a great defensive stretch five, something that you don’t see in the NBA nowadays. He has shot an astonishing 39% from three-point range. Horford has faced major criticism from the Boston faithful, but he is a unique player in this league. The Celtics are lucky to have such a great player on both ends of the floor and without Al, they wouldn’t be where they are today.
Celtics Sign Gordon Hayward
One of the biggest signings in the 2017 offseason came in July and made the C’s an instant contender in the East. They signed Gordon Hayward to a four-year 128 million dollar contract. Many believed this would lead to the tandem of Isaiah Thomas and Hayward, but that would obviously be false. An injury to Hayward and a blockbuster deal involving IT would blow this Celtics squad up.
However, this signing was a fantastic piece to the puzzle that Boston was trying to create. It gave them not only a great player but a reason for other players to join them in the future. As we sit in July just months before the 2018 season starts, it will be very interesting to see what Hayward can do in his first real season with the Boston Celtics.
Kyrie Irving/Isaiah Thomas Trade
A trade no one thought would happen and many thought the Celtics lost. A trade now looked at as a huge move by the Celtics and a move that put them in contention with the Warriors. The trade included moving Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two picks for all-star guard Kyrie Irving. Kyrie exploded for a 25/5/4 stat line this past season with the Celtics and has proven that he is still his all-star self.
An unfortunate injury sidelined Kyrie for the playoffs, but they got a star for at least two more years and hopefully more for their sake. This created a deadly Celtics lineup with Irving-Brown-Tatum-Hayward-Horford. This was the final piece in this Boston rebuild from seasons ago. Grabbing an elite guard in Irving is exactly what this team needed. A player who can help run the offense, while still putting up 20 a game.
The Celtics have literally started from the bottom. They finished in the bottom half of the season in 2013. However, they bounced back 4 years later and finished as the number two seed in the East. Looking back on this rebuild it was very unique. A mix of draft picks and signings created a great atmosphere in this city. They traded away beloved players to the fanbase, included legends, Pierce and Garnett. This Boston team became a threat in this league after being non-existent for years. An interesting past five years can only lead to a more interesting next five years for Boston.