Adjust expectations and keep building. Acknowledge that there isn't currently a move/moves that's going to fix everything. That's the best approach forward.
A large part of the problem is the expectations. It's understandable given what they had to work with at one point and where they are now, but I think if you unshackled the current iteration of the Celtics of the past expectations the situation wouldn't be viewed as negatively. But being realistic they've definitely taken a big step back the last two years and they need to adjust accordingly rather than trying to stay on the same trajectory without the assets/players to do so.
It's only fair to start at the top with Danny/Brad, but while they've both made mistakes, neither should be on the hotseat right now.
Danny deserves more of the blame as he's the one who's constructed the team. His biggest mistake was focusing too much on the perfect outcome (AD/Kyrie) and getting tunnel vision. He's also been a victim of bad luck/circumstance, so he does have some excuses. As long as he acknowledges what this team is (which it sounds like he does), I'm fine with him at the helm.
Brad's not above reproach, but I don't think there's any denying he's a good coach. I'd prefer someone with a more fiery/less monotone temperament, but I think he's shown he's good enough to get teams to overperform their talent and that's what the team will need unless Tatum/Brown continue to ascend into Kawhi/LeBron/KD type level. He can only work with what he's given and right now it's not enough. He just needs to continue developing guys and not lose the locker room and that's all I can ask.
In terms of what they can actually do to "fix" themselves, I don't see much of an opportunity to overhaul the team enough to get into legit contender status this year. That's fine. They're not in a position where they have to rush it. They're relying on their youth way too much right now, but there is upside there. Nesmith, Pritchard, Robert Williams have been contributing of late, but inconsistently. There's value in letting them continue to try to fill roles they're not ready for and hope that hastens their development into being worthy of those roles. Langford hasn't gotten a chance due to injuries, but he has the potential to fit in with that grouping. Smart has been the biggest loss and I think had he not missed the last dozen games they'd be in the top 3 in the East and things wouldn't seem as dire.
The TPE lasts into the off-season so I'm 100% fine with doing just very minor moves involving seconds and filler (Teague/Green/Edwards) to add some veterans to give us a puncher's chance in a playoff series. Guys like Wayne Ellington, Alec Burks, Garrett Temple, Hassan Whiteside would be my targets. Don't have to dip into the TPE, don't cost an arm and a leg, but still can help.
If Ainge does dip into the TPE it's gotta be for guys on multi-year deals who effectively extend the TPE to preserve the possibility of adding bigger salary/impactful players down the line (so no Oladipo, Tucker, OPJ, Fournier). To add to that I don't think they can afford to pay an arm and a leg for anyone (so no John Collins, Vucevic, Jerami Grant unless their teams are selling which is unlikely). That leaves two guys I think that make sense and they're not new names: Harrison Barnes and Aaron Gordon. Both guys extend a large portion of the TPE, have the potential to play well enough to preserve the assets C's likely have to give up to get them (I'd assume a first and minor pieces if that) and they fit in well with what's already on the roster.
Basically I see the Celtics already locked into this roster for the next 2-3 years while waiting on an opportunity to make another big splash. Whether that's via the TPE, trading for AG/Barnes and combining him with TT next year to match salary or using Kemba in the next two years, they'll need all the assets they still have to their name to do so. That situation isn't the end of the world. C's have young guys that they can lean on for now as lottery tickets and bide their time given their two stars are locked in long-term and under 25. It's also not the best spot to be in having to acknowledge your potential is capped barring a lottery ticket hitting (especially given where they once were). With how frequently the NBA landscape changes though, waiting for that splash isn't like you're waiting on a bus that might never come. It's just about which one you can/will hop on. Might be foolish, but I'll trust Ainge to find the right one. And if he blows that, then we can talk about heads rolling.
UHar_Vinnie wrote:If you don't lean forward while hugging a dude, you are gonna have a wiener touching incident. You know this.