Fireworks have been ablaze in the NBA all summer long, with the latest electrifying salvo being tossed by the Boston Celtics in trading for Kyrie Irving from Cleveland in exchange for a package of playerscentered around Isaiah Thomas and a first-round pick centered around Isaiah Thomas. Without question the Celtics were among the biggest winners this offseason as they went about transforming their roster significantly despite having the best record in the East while advancing to the conference finals. But good wasn’t good enough, a similar mantra by a number of teams in the NBA. We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin!
BOSTON – Expectations for the Celtics this season are the highest they've been in the Brad Stevens Era.
The past couple of years, Stevens’ crew was seen as a scrappy bunch.
That all changed Tuesday night when the Celtics pulled off a blockbuster trade in acquiring Kyrie Irving from Cleveland for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.
MORE ON THE KYRIE IRVING BLOCKBUSTER:
- A. Sherrod Blakely's five reasons why the Celtics are the best fit for Kyrie Irving
- Blakely on Irving trade: This is a great day for the Celtics
- Cedric Maxwell: I love Isaiah, but Irving is better player
- Draper: Kyrie Irving has not even hit his prime yet
Acquiring the four-time All-Star would have made this offseason one of the best ever for the Celtics. But prior to landing the 25-year-old point guard, Boston was able to sign Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $127.8 million contract after he spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz.
The new guys join a Celtics team that returns just four starters, a group led by Al Horford, who stands as the lone returning starter from last season’s squad which finished with the best record in the East (53-29) while advancing to the Eastern Conference finals before losing in five games to Cleveland.
Adding a pair of All-Stars to the mix will certainly benefit the Celtics for this upcoming season. But for their continued growth, they will also need to get more from their youngsters.
Second-year forward Jaylen Brown had a strong offseason and is poised to build off of a rookie season in which he was named to the All-Rookie second team. Boston will also look to get quality play from rookie Jayson Tatum who was selected by Boston with the third overall pick in the NBA draft.
For Boston, the biggest concern has to be chemistry.
There’s no question there’s more talent on this roster from top to bottom.
But with this being the first go-around for most of the players, it remains to be seen just how long it will take for all of the core players to get on the same page and find success.
That challenge won’t be easy, especially with the Celtics opening with seven of their first 11 games on the road.
Even with all the new faces and a challenging schedule out the gates, that won’t diminish the heightened level of expectations for a team that will surely have a bull’s-eye on its back all season for a journey that should result in yet another deep playoff run.
Key free agent/trade additions: Kyrie Irving (from Cleveland); Gordon Hayward (from Utah); Aron Baynes (from Detroit); Marcus Morris (from Detroit).
Key losses: Avery Bradley (traded to Detroit); Amir Johnson (Philadelphia); Jonas Jerebko (Utah); Isaiah Thomas (Cleveland); Jae Crowder (Cleveland); Kelly Olynyk (Miami).
Rookies of note: Jayson Tatum; Semi Ojeleye.
Expectations:60-22 (First in the Atlantic Division, first in the East)