BOSTON — After 82 games of pain, the Celtics and their fans head into the offseason planning on a splash. Whether that comes in the form of a major collegiate star or a blockbuster trade, they don’t seem picky.
They just want something to make it clear this season was worth it.
Maybe that splash will occur, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is prepared for it not to occur, too. Armed with the fourth-best odds in the NBA draft lottery, Ainge could begin the process of building the franchise’s future foundation this summer, or he still could be digging the hole for that foundation, he said Wednesday.
In other words, don’t rule out Ainge trading away more of his team’s current core for draft picks, thereby extending the rebuilding phase.
“I would say that’s a ‘depends,’ ” Ainge said. “It depends on what options there are, depends on what we can accomplish. But I could see that possibly happening, acquiring more assets, and I could see giving up some of our young assets and draft picks for players as well — and everywhere in between.”
Ainge allowed that the roster he constructed for 2013-14 was “not a great fit” and he repeatedly resisted opportunities to sacrifice draft picks to get better “just for this year.” Although he excels in the art of speaking without saying anything of substance, Ainge was consistently honest, in a roundabout way, that winning games wasn’t a priority this season.
Celtics fans themselves embraced the process, often openly rooting for their team to lose and bolster its draft position. Team president Wyc Grousbeck predicted “fireworks” this offseason during a radio interview, feeding the perception that the Celtics will endure only one season of losing before hitting the fast track to glory.
For Ainge, it’s not so simple.
“We always are trying to make fireworks,” Ainge said. “Every summer, we try to find something that’s unique and special, and we will definitely try this summer.”
Fireworks come in many forms, of course. There are the celebratory kind that go off with the acquisition of a star player, like the ones that exploded in the summer of 2007. There also are the kind that result from a different type of eruption, however, such as taking a roster from an expired era and continuing to blow it up.