DJ Bean

Bean: Everything is turning up Celtics this week

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Bean: Everything is turning up Celtics this week

There have been a lot of great days in Celtics history: The day they won their first title. The day they won their 17th title. The day they got the 76ers to draft Markelle Fultz. The day a brave fan first yelled at Ben Simmons to shoot a 3, coward. 

June 18, 2018 might not be on the same level as any of those, but damn, it was good. I really only needed to see two things happen this offseason: for the C's to keep restricted free agent Marcus Smart and for Kawhi Leonard to end up anywhere for Philadelphia. 

Check and check. What a day. 

Actually, I suppose the stars getting healthy would also be a biggie for the Celtics. 

What a day. 

Let's focus on the Kawhi thing. If he had gone to the 76ers and made friends with some of those goofballs -- enough that he'd want to re-sign at least -- the Celtics would be in trouble. Kyrie Irving could theoretically leave in free agency next summer, and a big three of Kawhi, Simmons and Embiid would likely trump a Kyrie-less Celtics roster longterm. 

But that's not going to happen. Kawhi is in Toronto, perhaps for a year before he goes to the Lakers. In the immediate future, the Raptors are no threat to the Celtics, or perhaps even the 76ers. Longterm, there's a good chance he won't even be in the Eastern Conference. 

So the Celtics' path to the NBA Finals remains clear. As long as everyone -- or really even mostly everyone -- is healthy, they'll get there easily. 

A big part of that will be due to them being the deepest team in the conference, a status that should remain with Marcus Smart banging out a four-year deal with the Celtics for $52 million. (He officially signed on June 19, yes, but the two sides got close to the finish line on June 18.)

It wouldn't have been the end of the world if Smart just came back on his $6.1 million qualifying offer and then walked in free agency next summer, but paying more to have him around for what could be championship runs should have always been the better option. 

Yes, the Celtics are kind of negotiating against themselves because Smart is an RFA and hasn't received an offer sheet, but if after Dante Exum signed for three years at $11 million per, didn't it make sense for Smart to get something similar? 

So Smart got four years and $52 million. That's $2 million more a year to have him for four years. More importantly, it isn't the $16 million some team could have given him to get the Celtics to either overpay or walkaway. Smart isn't one of the Celtics' five best players, but he's one of the better defenders in the league. The Celtics seemingly don't have to pay through the nose to get him for four more years, so they'd be smart to wrap something up for the numbers that have been reported. 

Also, a picture surfaced of Jayson Tatum cropping Stephen A. Smith out of a picture with Denzel Washington. What a day. 

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Bean: Bring on LeBron's next super team

Bean: Bring on LeBron's next super team

The NBA is becoming a league of super teams. 

It's a term that's become derogatory over the years, as if loading up a roster with multiple stars, as either orchestrated by an executive or the players themselves, is somehow a bad thing. There are five guys on the court at a time. If three or four of those guys for your team are star players, you're probably going to win. That's generally the goal.

One already exists with the Warriors. If they stand pat, the Celtics would be one next season; you can't tell me Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum aren't stars, especially with Al Horford and Jaylen Brown playing with them. 

Another's set to be built somewhere thanks to LeBron James. Unless he does something insane and either joins the Warriors or comes to the Celtics (it's hilarious how seriously that tiny possibility has been taken locally), other stars will follow him. Paul George has long been rumored as a potential LeBron teammate should he go to the Lakers. This week, the possibility of a LeBron-George-Kawhi Leonard trio has been the popular rumor. 

Now that word has emerged that Kawhi wants out of San Antonio (who could have guessed that?), the possibility of that Lakers super team is even more plausible. Sure, the Lakers might not have much that the Spurs would necessarily covet, but if interested teams feel that he might bolt for the Lakers as a free agent next summer anyway, perhaps the offers of teams like the Celtics might not be that strong. That would certainly help the Lakers' chances of landing the player. 

Should that happen and LeBron and George were to also end up with the Lakers, that team would be scary. Just that aforementioned trio would be better than what LeBron had with Irving and Kevin Love when they won a title back in 2016. 

Honestly, as a Celtics fan, I'm cool with it as long as the C's don't do anything to make themselves worse this offseason. 

Why? Because it would mean that new super team is in the West. The East, which would be without LeBron in such a scenario, would be the Celtics and nobody else. The only way the Sixers become peers of the Celtics is if they can get LeBron. Otherwise, they're a good team in a conference with only one great team. 

This isn't to advocate for an Eastern Conference completely devoid of competition. In a perfect world, LeBron would stay with the Cavaliers, Cleveland would try to trade what little assets it has (the No. 8 pick, perhaps Kevin Love) for help and we'd still see some great Celtics-LeBron series. 

Nobody seems to think that's happening, though, and with each passing day, it sounds more and more like he'll end up in Los Angeles. 

That Lakers team would presumably have to duke it out with some great teams out West. In order to even reach the NBA Finals, they would need to play at least one of the Warriors and Rockets. The Celtics would be arguably as good as any of those teams, and by the time whichever one of them reaches battles its way to the finals, the Celtics will have presumably had a comfortable postseason of short series. 

Plus, and this really hinges on Irving re-signing, such a layout would not interfere with a potential post-Warriors era of dominance for the Celtics. If and when the money for all of those stars in Golden State no longer fits in a few years, LeBron could at the very least be a declining player. Same for Chris Paul, who's the same age as LeBron (33). 

So sure, let LeBron go form another super team. As long as it's out West and doesn't involve mending fences with Draymond Green, Celtics fans shouldn't think it's the end of the world. The Celtics are a super team, too. 

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