How do Celtics attract free agents? Develop good players


BOSTON -- The NBA is a buddy-buddy league full of players that are far more motivated to play with, rather than beat, as many great players as possible.

And it’s not just the Celtics who are being hurt by this in free agency.

The New York Knicks were supposed to be the “front-runner” for damn near every free agent in the top 10. With the free agency period in Day 2 and most of the big names off the board, the Knicks’ huge haul thus far has been Arron Afflalo.

That’s it.

The Los Angeles Lakers are just as bad, having struck out with a number of elite players.

So if you’re Boston, the plan right now seems clear.

Develop your own, hope they develop into a superstar (or superstar-like), and pray their ascension will begin to attract other stars or elite players.

All this talk about nobody wanting to come to Boston as a free agent has nothing to do with the weather, politics or taxes.

The better players want to play with the best, and convincing players that those players are in Boston now is just not realistic.

Players in this day and age aren’t motivated as much to carve out their own legacy. Instead, they’d rather have a Mount Rushmore-like existence with other great players.

But all is not lost, Celtics fans!

It can be done, and it can be done quickly.

Just a couple years ago, Milwaukee was one of the worst franchises in the NBA. But shrewd drafting, a couple of key signings and the arrival of a superstar (Jabari Parker) has the Bucks poised to be well entrenched in the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference next season.

They came to terms Thursday with Greg Monroe on a three-year, $50 million deal, with a player option for the third year.

He joins a team that includes Parker, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokumpo. Would any of us be surprised if one or all of those guys are All-Stars in the next two or three years?

Former Dallas guard Monta Ellis has been a borderline All-Star for the past couple of seasons and he will join an Indiana Pacers team that features a pair of All-Stars in Paul George and Roy Hibbert, who are both in their mid to late-20s.

Take a look at the Celtics roster.

See the difference?

Boston has good players, the kind that could carve out a spot in just about any team’s regular rotation.

But there are no budding stars on the cusp of greatness. Just solid role players.

And the best way to fix that problem is through the draft.

That’s a good thing for the Celtics, who have several draft picks coming its way in the coming years, including Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick in 2016.

They’re not all going to be lottery top-five picks, but we’ve seen plenty of times when players blossom into superstars.

In fact, some of the biggest money-makers in the free agency period this year have been guys who were drafted significantly later than they would be if there was a do-over.

George, a two-time All-Star, was the 10th overall pick in 2010. Kawhi Leonard, the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, was the 15th pick in the 2011. Draymond Green was a second-round pick (No. 35 overall) in 2012 and has proven to be one of the game’s most versatile players and a key cog in Golden State winning an NBA title this past season.

As long as the Celtics continue to field a roster with good, but not great, talent, big-market as well as small-market teams such as Milwaukee will beat them out for the best available free-agent talent.

Players in this day and age aren’t nearly as bold as their predecessors. They want to win, but they’re trying to take the easiest path possible towards that enf.

Teaming up with fellow All-Stars?

Yup. That’ll do it.

And if you can’t form those kind of alliances, you do what Greg Monroe has done, which is join a team with lots of young talent that has already shown signs of being elite players in the league.

The Celtics aren’t there yet.

But with all those picks . . . anything is possible!

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