- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
"It felt like fireworks on the Fourth of July," he said.
OK, so that wasn't quite the fireworks that many Celtics fans were pining for on this night. Those who dreamed of a draft-night swap for Minnesota All-Star forward Kevin Love, or even watching Kansas center Joel Embiid slide to No. 6, were left yearning for a bigger bang.
The Celtics elected to keep picks Nos. 6 and 17, selecting Smart and Kentucky swingman James Young, adding two players who are regarded as, well, smart and young.
Both Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge hinted that the team examined potential moves, maybe more so in the days leading up to the draft, but ultimately the Celtics stuck with their picks. All in all, it was a rather quiet draft night, at least by Trader Danny's standards. Grousbeck suggested it wasn't for a lack of trying.
"We wanted to make other trades in recent days and we've been on the phone quite a bit with other teams about other ideas," Grousbeck said. "Nothing just ever really seemed close to fruition, no matter how hard we tried."
And Grousbeck quickly cautioned: "I remember trading for Kevin Garnett in 2007 and I got a phone call about that from Minnesota on July 30 or 31. The trade season is not over yet."
Grousbeck is the one who originally coined the buzzword "fireworks" a couple months back when he suggested Boston had potential to accelerate the rebuilding process with its treasure trove of assets, including two picks in the first round on Thursday.
Are fireworks still a possibility with free agency looming?
"I always said fireworks were a possibility," Grousbeck said. "It takes two to tango around here. There just hasn't been that much movement tonight. Typically on draft day, we make at least two trades, if not three. It's just sort of the way we roll [with] Trader Danny.
"We like to be aggressive about rebuilding this team. We like to try to become contenders as quickly as possible. We'll keep working the phones, but it takes two partners to make a trade."
Some Celtics fans, weary after a 57-loss season in Year 1 of the rebuild, fear that Boston's quiet night is an indication that the team is content to build slowly. Young, who left Kentucky after his freshman season, lives up to his surname and won't turn 19 until mid-August. Even Smart is only 20 and spent his sophomore season at Oklahoma State honing his point guard skills.
Asked if the picks were a sign Boston was content to stay in rebuild mode, coach Brad Stevens deferred to management, but expressed excitement in a young core.
"I think, at the end of the day, when you're a coach, and you're in the midst of it, you're trying to win every game, trying to win the next game," Stevens said. "You don't look at anything as rebuilding, you look at it as your next opportunity. As long as you can prepare and strive and do your best, it's hard for me to say that [the team is still rebuilding], because I don't want to sell our team short."
Stevens was pressed on the potential for the team to take a step forward, even if the summer sky is devoid of fireworks.
"I feel a lot better standing here today than I did on July 4 last year," Stevens said as the anniversary of his surprise hiring approaches. "How much more comfortable I am at understanding the schedule of the NBA, the way you get the most out of our team, and the way to get the most out of our individuals. We'll have a lot of guys back that have been a part of this and understand how we want to do things. I think we're adding two good workers, and we're adding two guys that are hungry to help. I think that's all a positive. Can I predict how many wins that creates? I don't predict that. I do think we'll be a lot more prepared from a standpoint of the big picture, both on the court and in our preseason and everything else, than I would have felt last year."
Ainge stressed that he felt draft night was a success. "I think it went great," he reasoned. And while he was careful not to put too lofty of expectations on his incoming players, he sees bright futures for them.
"I just think they're two guys who can be starting players in the NBA for years to come," Ainge said. "I just don't want to put too much pressure on them right away. We need to let these guys develop and sort of earn their stripes. I think they're going to have very, very bright careers."
So what does that mean for Boston's more immediate future? Will this season be about development over winning?
"We'll see. We'll see what happens the rest of the summer," Ainge said. "I'm not sure yet. It's too early to say that. I mean, it's an emphasis always to develop young players, so we're always trying to do that. But how many of them we have, and what our final roster is, I don't know. But we're very excited about these two guys and our young core right now."
1hEthan Sherwood Strauss
23hEthan Sherwood Strauss
1hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
4mVince Masi, ESPN Stats & Information
6hArash Markazi and Ben Alamar