The Boston Celtics have been eliminated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, officially ending a roller-coaster season filled with peaks and valleys.
After reaching the Conference Finals last year without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics entered the 2018-19 season as the favourites in the Eastern Conference with Irving and Hayward back and LeBron James in the Western Conference.
Instead, Boston finished fourth in the East and won 49 games in the regular season, falling well short of the preseason over/under of 59.5, which trailed only the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
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The focus now shifts to the offseason in what will be a massive summer for the Celtics as the roster for training camp could like radically different than it does now.
Kyrie Irving - UFA ($21.3M player option for 2019-20)
Al Horford - UFA ($30.1M player option for 2019-20)
Aron Baynes - UFA ($5.4M player option for 2019-20)
Marcus Morris - UFA
Terry Rozier - RFA
Daniel Theis - RFA
UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent, RFA = Restricted Free Agent
Gordon Hayward - under team control through 2019-20
Terry Rozier - under team control through 2019-20
Daniel Theis - under team control through 2019-20
Brad Wanamaker - under team control through 2019-20
Jonathan Gibson - under team control through 2019-20
Semi Ojeleye - under team control through 2020-21
Jaylen Brown - under team control through 2020-21
Jayson Tatum - under team control through 2021-22
Marcus Smart - under team control through 2021-22
Guerschon Yabusele - under team control through 2021-22
Robert Williams - under team control through 2022-23
In addition to controlling all of their own future draft picks, the Celtics have a nice stockpile of incoming picks from other teams as they could have up to four first-round picks in this June's draft and will have at least three.
They own first-round picks from the Clippers (20th overall this year), Grizzlies (top-8 protected in 2019, top-6 protected in 2020 and unprotected in 2021) and either Kings or 76ers this year (Boston receives the more favourable pick, protected for No. 1 overall).
Based on lottery odds, there is a 43% chance the Celtics receive the pick from Memphis.
How have the Celtics drafted in recent years?
Take a look back at Boston's last five first-round picks:
2018: Robert Williams (27th)
2017: Jayson Tatum (3rd)
2016: Jaylen Brown (3rd)
2016: Guerschon Yabusele (16th)
2016: Ante Zizic (23rd)
Boston has among the most fluid cap situations as Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and Aron Baynes all have player options while Terry Rozier, Daniel Theis, Brad Wanamaker and Jonathan Gibson are all restricted free agents.
The key player to watch is Horford, who has an option for $30.1 million. Though he probably won't make much per year on a new deal either in Boston or elsewhere, he'll be 33 at the start of next season and could opt to sign a longer deal with more guaranteed money.
What Horford ultimately decides will go a long way towards determining what sort of flexibility Boston has once July 1 rolls around.
As it stands now, the Celtics have just under $65 million in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season, which does not include any player or team options.
Should Irving and Horford opt out and sign elsewhere, Boston could free up enough space to pursue a max free agent as the salary cap for 2019-20 is expected to be $109M. Should the Celtics bring everyone back, any major roster changes would come via trade.
Biggest offseason storylines
What will Kyrie Irving do?
The biggest question mark entering the offseason is Kyrie Irving, who will almost assuredly opt out of his player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent.
It's been quite the two-year adventure in Boston as Irving has dealt with a litany of injuries that kept him out of last year's postseason and publicly wavered on his own long-term plans, initially telling season-ticket holders at a preseason event of his commitment to the organization before walking back those statements at times throughout the regular season.
Irving just turned 27-years-old and is a six-time All-Star in the thick of his prime while also regarded as one of the league's best shot makers and clutch players. For all of the tension that might have been present this past season, Irving's presence changes Boston's immediate outlook in terms of its intent to contend now.
Should Irving ultimately return to Boston, the team will have some decisions to make about the fit around him, starting at the very position he plays. Terry Rozier filled in admirably for Irving during last year's run to the Conference Finals, but is a restricted free agent and at times seemed like the odd man out in a backcourt that also includes Marcus Smart, who just finished the first year of a four-year deal inked last summer.
Irving's decision likely has a domino effect on what then happens with either Rozier and/or Smart.
Will the Celtics pursue a trade for Anthony Davis?
It's been well documented that the Celtics have had their eye on Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis for quite some time. Given the contract status of Irving, Boston was unable to trade for him during this past season when New Orleans kicked the tires on trade options leading up to the trade deadline.
If Irving decides to re-sign in Boston, the Davis-to-Boston rumours will start right back up as the Celtics have an enticing package of high upside young pieces and draft picks that would be tough for any other team to match.
The question then becomes at what cost? Would Danny Ainge be forced to give up both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown? How many of the picks would be included? Would the Celtics only entertain trading for him if Irving is still on the team or would they push the chips in regardless?
With Davis under contract for just one more season before hitting unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2020, this is the type of go-for-broke move that can make or break a franchise.
The development of Jayson Tatum
Following the 2018 postseason, it looked as if Tatum was the no-brainer future face of the franchise. After a scintillating rookie season in which Tatum flashed superstar potential as a scorer with uncanny polish for a player his age, he didn't make the leap that many expected in his second season.
There's a very real possibility that Tatum enters his third season as the No. 1 offensive option in Boston. If Irving leaves and the team decides not to trade for Davis, Tatum would the highest upside piece left on a roster alongside Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward.
Should that come to fruition, 2019-20 will be the biggest magnifying glass that Tatum has ever had. What naturally follows a brighter spotlight is more attention paid to his progress and development as a player, which makes this offseason a potentially transformative time for Tatum, who has every opportunity to develop into a legitimate star.
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