Expectations once the Boston Celtics hit the Orlando bubble were about as inconsistent as the team that exited in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now looking ahead to the 2020-21 season, where do the Celtics go from here?
Many think this team of youth is destined for greatness. Their two best players––Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown––are 22 and 23 years old; they have a franchise point guard in Kemba Walker; a defensive wizard as their sixth man in Marcus Smart; a max-contract player as their No. 3 or No. 4 option in Gordon Hayward. However, the grass isn’t necessarily greener for the team that oozes that color. With a team on the cusp of future greatness comes many questions that need to be addressed.
What will be done about the Celtics’ center position?
The center position for the Celtics is one full of uncertainty. From a depth perspective, they have a very loaded room. Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, and Robert Williams III fill out the traditional center room; Grant Williams and Tacko Fall round out the room as tweeners either positionally or on the roster in general.
That being said, there isn’t a guy in that room that Brad Stevens should be comfortable with logging in excess of 30 minutes a night. Furthermore, all of them have glaring deficiencies. Kanter and Williams III have the tendency to get lost defensively, and Theis tends to get into foul trouble. Grant Williams, while he does play hard, is undersized and seems better suited to play the power forward position.
For a team that got exposed by strong bigs all season, they need to address the room. Whether that be adding a bruiser like Dwight Howard or Tristan Thompson remains to be seen, but it should be worth keeping an eye on.
What do you need that Romeo Langford brings to the table?
On top of needing to address the center position, Romeo Langford is a player that should be eyed a lot this offseason.
If you could define his rookie season in one word, inconsistent or incomplete come to mind. The rookie out of Indiana only played 32 games in 2019-20, with just 17 being longer than five minutes. In those games, he showed flashes of why Danny Ainge would be attracted to him, whether it be his slashing ability or his 102.2 defensive rating (second on the team among players who played 30 or more games).
However, with Brown, Smart, Tatum, and Hayward all ahead of him on the depth chart, the opportunity for him to develop is limited. Not to mention that the team needs to shore up their experience in the second unit, as inexperience killed them in the playoffs.
Danny Ainge needs to take a look in the mirror and as himself whether or not Romeo Langford is a part of this team’s immediate future. He also needs to figure out if there is an opportunity for him to develop to his potential with the current state of the roster.
Unless the answer is a definitive “yes,” Ainge needs to look to move on from the Indiana product.
How do you add without spending money?
As it sits, the Boston Celtics are more than $30 million over the salary cap for next season.
On the bright side, virtually everyone from the 2019 Celtics is locked in for 2020. The negative? Outside of the mid-level exception, they are going to have next to nothing to spend to bring in quality players to get them over the hump.
Does that mean packaging guys like Gordon Hayward and Romeo Langford for a package centering around Myles Turner and a couple of bench scorers? Could Marcus Smart’s team-friendly contract become a hot commodity? Time will tell.
It’s easy to look at the 2019-20 Celtics and assume that they’ll be better next year. However, in an up-and-coming Eastern Conference, that might not be the case. Factor in the questions that single hang over their head and times could be tougher than expected for Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics.
Follow Jordan Leandre on Twitter: @JordanLeandre55
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