The Downfall of OKC
The NBA Trade Deadline is coming up and many teams are trying to figure out whether they are contenders or pretenders. There is no easy answer to this question. However, I have an anecdote about how one domino can truly impact a franchise’s future for many years to come. It was the 2012 NBA Finals, LeBron won his first ring and the streets were going crazy. Not the seven championships that he promised to the Heat faithful but nonetheless a great achievement to add to his stacked resume.
What people forget most about that season is the long term effect it had on OKC’s stars. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden all in their younger years many thought that this would become a regular occurrence for the Thunder. The NBA media believed they would be on their way to becoming a championship contender for years to come. Today they are all in their early 30s and in their primes. Two of them contending for a championship together and the other left behind on a rebuilding franchise.
The Thunder are now rebuilding with pieces for the future but at what cost? The Oklahoma City Thunder have been recently praised for their rebuilding efforts getting many picks for the upcoming drafts. But if they cannot win with with the big three they had why would things change in the future?
The OKC Celtics?
What does Trader Danny have to do with the Oklahoma City Thunder and this year’s NBA trade deadline? The current Boston Celtics had a similar end to the season last year that the Thunder had in the finals not too long ago. Many Celtics fans are now saying we have the Jays under contract for the next couple of years. Praising them for their age and how they have shown so much potential taking big leaps every year that they have been in the league.
The Rise of the Jays
So now that we have a general background about the similarities it is time to look at the downfall. The year after OKC lost to Miami they decided to go a different direction with Harden because of money. A year later Harden became an all star and has been one every year since. Harden won a MVP and is one of the most accomplished players in the NBA. Since then all sports talk radio shows would say the common question, “What if Harden had stayed?”.
There is no clear answer whether or not they would have won a championship but there is one common ground. The Harden trade was robbery for the Rockets. The Thunder got a couple of first round picks and Jeremy Lamb for Harden. This goes down as one of the worst trades of all time. It is comparable with Nets trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and the Kentucky Colonels trading Ed Monix for a washing machine.
Tatum is under contract for the next five years and Jaylen Brown for the next three and hopefully both beyond. But the only way they will go beyond is if Danny Ainge makes a move now. I know it is early in the season and there have been many disappointments for the Celtics, however one thing is for sure. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are going to be problems on both ends of the court for years to come and are legitimate franchise cornerstones.
The Time is Now for the Celtics and the Jays
Tatum and Brown are two of seven players with at least 25ppg /4.0 reb /4.0 assists / 44% FG% /38% 3P%. The other five players? Only two former MVPs, two finals MVPs, and four All NBA players.
Here are the list of players this season that have put up at least the same production as the Jays so far— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) February 19, 2021
At least 25ppg / at least 4.0 reb / at least 4.0 assists / at least 44% FG% / at least 38% 3P%
Seems like a decent mix of players imo pic.twitter.com/aevPGEScBN
The Celtics are becoming a laughing stock in the NBA Media and Colin Cowherd on his show The Herd talked more about the Celtics struggles.
The Championship Window for Years to Come
The time is now for the Celtics and we have seen teams be reluctant to mortgage their future for the present. This is fair sometimes but in the Celtics case they have a championship core with Jayson and Jaylen but every other piece should be tradeable this NBA trade deadline.
I know that many Green Teamers will disagree and call me stupid for proposing trading fan favorite Marcus Smart. However if it has to be done to get the final piece for Jayson and Jaylen then Danny has to do it. I would prefer to keep Smart because of his team friendly deal and his defensive abilities. The issue is though that many teams are going to want a piece back from the Celtics. Whether you like it or not Marcus may be that guy.
Danny I know in the past that you have been able to stand put and you have done well. Especially with keeping Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum rather than giving them up for stars. Including Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis who was rumored to go to Boston to team up with Kyrie, and that has worked out well you have two great pieces for years to come. Danny has acknowledged that this team is not good enough to win a championship.
Does Trader Danny Have Any More Tricks?
Ainge has the TPE (Trade Player Exception) from the Hayward trade with Charlotte. This means the cap is available for a potential star to team up with the Jays via trade. We could even go down another route and bolster our depth with role players. This could be a direction to surround the core we have of Kemba, Marcus, and the Jays. Either way, a move has to be made and Danny knows it and there should be internal pressure in that building to make a move.
Ainge has been loved in Boston for great trades like the KG and Ray Allen trade, the first Isaiah Thomas deal at the trade deadline, and the trade that brought Boston their saviors in Jayson and Jaylen. Now is the time to finish the job and get the Jay’s those final pieces to contend for titles.
Danny needs to show an effort that he is trying to build a championship roster around the Jays in order to contend for championships and keep them in Boston for years to come. Twenty years from now we will see a what if documentary on OKC, let’s not be in the same documentary fifty years from now Ainge, let’s change the narrative and be active this NBA trade deadline, our future depends on it.