Blakely: Turner signing part of Ainge's dividend plan

Blakely: Turner signing part of Ainge's dividend plan
July 22, 2014, 5:45 pm
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BOSTON — The addition of Evan Turner has come with mixed reviews from the masses, in large part because Turner's strengths don't necessarily fill a gap on the Boston Celtics roster but rather duplicates many of the skills already on the payroll.

So what's the point?

Well, that kind of is the point.

Boston has every reason to believe that their pursuit of Love - Kevin Love that is - will not have a happy ending.

So if you can't have one great player who would be a good fit, you go and get a bunch of good players who would be great fits.

And that's exactly what Turner and Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton and the re-signing of Avery Bradley and Phil Pressey, present to Boston.

None of those players are all-stars, and the odds of that changing anytime soon aren't great.

But the Celtics aren't a team built right now to contend for a title or a deep playoff run. They are a roster in transition, promising players nothing but an opportunity to play and establish or for veterans like Turner, re-establish their value in the league.

And that should make for competitive practices, akin to what Boston had prior to the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joining forces in 2007.

Remember those stories Doc Rivers used to tell about how some of the team's younger players (Rajon Rondo, Gerald Green, Delonte West) worked so hard to prove themselves in practice that they had little left for games?


We may very well be on the verge of seeing a sequel this fall.

But there is one significant difference.

For starters, these players are slightly older, presumably more mature and for the most part, more talented than some of the squads Rivers had to work with pre-Banner 17.

Also, the Celtics have several draft picks and multiple trade exceptions at their disposal to help facilitate deals despite having a number of young players who for the most part are still working under rookie contracts.

And when you look at this roster, 18 strong at the moment, there's no doubt Boston will do some roster trimming between now and training camp.

The no-brainer moves will involve waiving the three players with non-guaranteed contracts (Chris Babb, Keith Bogans and Chris Johnson), although the Celtics are likely to do their best to keep Johnson.

Certainly when the summer began with hopes of "fireworks," this is not the kind of rebuild Boston fans expected, one that they hoped would end with Kevin Love donning a Celtics uniform.

And while all hope is not lost, Boston is at the very least preparing for a Love-less season that unfortunately will remind Celtics Nation of last season's 25-win crew or . . . worse? The years preceding the Big Three of Pierce, Allen and Garnett.

All three have moved on and to a large degree so have the Celtics.

And while the best days for those three are clearly behind them, the Celtics continue to hold out hope that better days are just one or two blockbuster deals away from returning.

The addition of Evan Turner won't get it done.

Not even close.

But he too becomes a piece of the puzzle, one that's slowly but surely coming into focus.

It is an image of a Celtics franchise that's making the best of what it has to offer, attempting to sign players below market value in hopes that they will play up to the promise they have shown in the past.

Players who exceed expectations become important assets in what's still at the heart of all that the Celtics are doing, which is to re-emerge as an elite NBA team sooner rather than later.

So while the idea of adding another wing player to a team filled with wing players doesn't make a lot of sense initially, know that the moves made today by the Celtics are designed to build and strengthen the franchise's foundation for future success.

Which is the point of making all these deals, right?