Boston Celtics

Celtics vs. Lakers: Who Has The Brighter Future?

While watching the Lakers eke by my Celtics by 3, at home yesterday, it got me thinking about the near futures of both of these teams. Both teams have signature stars (Lakers with Kobe, Celtics with Pierce) who are signed through the 2013-14 season. Both teams may or may not be active before March 15th, as well as in free agency this upcoming year. Both teams are once proud champions, who have seen the current windows of opportunity all but close. The question I have set out to answer is this: What team will have more success over the next 3 seasons in rebuilding on the fly, the Lakers or the Celtics?

To come to an educated conclusion, we looked at the various factors that will come in to play in determining this result.

Continued Strength of their Core Players

Kobe Bryant (signed through 2014), Pau Gasol (signed through 2014), and Andrew Bynum (signed through 2013)

Gasol seems likely to be moved either within the next few days or at the conclusion of the season, ideally for a point guard/scoring wing. Bynum has been a relevation this year and will presumably get a large extension after next season, though his health is always a concern. Bryant, while still a top 10 player in the league, will be 34 next season. Though Kobe is unquestionably driven to remain a top player, he has played, including the post-season, 1,351 NBA games. As a point of comparison, Michael Jordan played 1,251 NBA games. The wear and tear adds up, and it is very reasonable to expect that by the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, Kobe Bryant will no longer be a franchise player.

Paul Pierce (signed through 2014), Rajon Rondo (signed through 2015)

Rondo has a team-friendly contract and, unless traded, will be the leader of this teams offense for the next 3 seasons, at a minimum. Despite his issues and occasional inconsistency, he is an elite distributor that scorers league-wide should want to play with if Boston were to become reliant on free agent talent. Pierce, who is still a borderline All-Star scorer, will be 35 next season, and like Bryant, has logged many tough NBA miles. Including the post-season, Pierce has played in 1,110 NBA games, and a precipitous drop in production, perhaps as early as next season, appears imminent. The Celtics will desperate need to bring in players who can score the basketball in the near future.

Edge: Lakers

Improvement via Free Agency

Unless the Lakers are able to move some players via trade, they will not have the cap space to be big players in free agency next season. Depending on how aggressively they try to free up cap space, they may or may not be active in the 2013 and 2014 off-seasons. It is tough to tell at this point. However, if the Lakers DID have cap space, it can be assumed that they’d be relatively successful luring top talent to LA, though players may not be wowed by the idea of watching an aging Kobe chase the scoring record or playing for the always electric Mike Brown. The Lakers are also a bit hamstrung by having a few bad contracts (Luke Walton, Steve Blake, Ron Artest…not using his silly name) hanging on the roster the next year or two.

Boston will have plenty of cap space, with virtually every player on the roster’s contract is expiring, including significant ones like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The only way the Celtics don’t go into free agency this off-season with money to burn will be if they make a move with Garnett and/or Allen’s contracts in the next 4 days, bringing back a player who is paid similarly, but on a longer deal. This appears unlikely to happen, so Boston will be players in a class highlighted by Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, with some expected lesser lights such as Eric Gordon, Nic Batum, Ryan Anderson, Brook Lopez, and JaVale McGee. The Celts would need to come away with both a shooter and a big, with the shooter/scorer probably being the larger priority or that offense will become anemic VERY quickly. While Boston doesn’t have a history of tempting top free agents, the presence of the enormously popular Doc Rivers, as well as an unselfish star in Rajon Rondo, could be selling points for players who want to be on a competitive team and maximize their own production.

Edge: Celtics

Improvement via The Draft

The Lakers own all of their own picks over the next few years, as well as a top 20 protected 1st Rounder from Dallas (which they may not see for a few years, given the Mavs would pick around 16th if the draft were today) and an extra 2nd in 2013. The Lakers would choose around 24th in this year’s draft if it were held today.


The Celtics own all of their own picks over the next few years as well, and will have a 1st Rounder from the Clippers in a loaded 2012 draft (probably between 20-23). They also have an extra 2nd Rounder in both 2013 and 2014. The Celtics would choose around 15th in this year’s draft if it were held today.

Slight Edge: Celtics

Strength of the Coaching Staff

Coach Mike Brown is currently in the 1st year of a 4-year contract, replacing the legendary Phil Jackson this season. Brown has a nice overall record as a head coach (296-154), but has not won a title and picked up most of those wins while enabling arguably the best player in the league (LeBron James) over in Cleveland. Brown’s unwillingness to give superstar players tough love may make things very ugly as Kobe Bryant’s skills begin to erode. However, Brown HAS been a winner thus far in the NBA, so there may be some hope.

Coach Doc Rivers is also locked up for the foreseeable future, but unlike Mike Brown, Rivers is a highly respected and liked coach, not only in Boston, but throughout the league. Rivers also has a championship on his resume, has commanded the respect of future Hall-of-Famers throughout his tenure in Boston, and sports a solid 528-424 record for his career, despite the inclusion of the dreadful 24-58 2007 season when the Celtics were making a run at the lottery balls for Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. Rivers is a player that players league-wide would like to play for, which may very well be the best lure of potential free agents that the Celtics have in their possession. Beyond this, he is at least the equal of Coach Brown as far as actual game preparation and management.

Edge: Celtics

Strength of the Front Office
Seeing that these will be the guys making the big decision (drafting, trading, free agency) it certainly seems worthwhile to take a look at them.

GM Mitch Kupchak has a solid track record running the Lakers, such as the drafting of Andrew Bynum and trading for Pau Gasol. His moves in free agency, while typically not splashy, have been effective in keeping a cohesive team on the floor most of the time. Outside of Bynum, his draft record is unimpressive, though to be fair the Lakers almost always pick low; once again, the exception being Bynum with the 10th overall selection. Despite many opportunities, Kupchak hasn’t really hit with a late 1st Round or 2nd Round pick. Further complicating the situation is the rise of Jim Buss as the de facto decision-maker (and resident Andrew Bynum groupie). To date, the younger Buss has demonstrated neither the charisma or political skill that his father did.

GM Danny Ainge also has an NBA championship on his resume, and his tenure has been bold and active since becoming GM, with some spectacular hits and misses. Ainge HAS hit on some later draft choices (Rondo late in the 1st Round, Glen Davis in the 2nd Round). He also orchestrated the 2 trades to get Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen into town, and oversaw the collecting of the talent needed to acquire those 2 players. His moves in free agency the past few seasons have been uninspiring, and often questionable (Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, Rasheed Wallace, etc.). While the Allen and Garnett trades were a spectacular success, last year’s Kendrick Perkins trade is regarded as having been relatively disastrous. Ainge also has an excellent rapport with Coach Rivers, making for a cohesive and productive partnership most of the time. The Celtics also have a young, enthusiastic ownership group that is determined to succeed.

Slight Edge:  Celtics (Ainge’s past boldness and drafting history make me more comfortable with him making the tough decisions during a rebuilding/retooling phase than Kupchak, who tends to make the safe move and hasn’t drafted all that well)

The Conclusion
Despite the presence of a better core of players going forward, the Lakers, in my eyes, will actually be looking up in the standings at the Celtics over the next 3 years. I am relatively confident that the talented folks running the Celtics organization will make wise decisions in pursuing the tremendous opportunity that all of this roster turnover presents. I also believe that a player like Rondo, who makes everyone better, will be key over that time span. While I really like Andrew Bynum’s game, there are legitimate questions as to whether or not he’ll be healthy enough to be a force for the duration of his prime. Finally, Kobe Bryant, in my opinion, is as likely to be a detriment to the Lakers’ goals over the next 3 years as he is a benefit. Things COULD become fairly toxic in LA in the near future, while I like the odds better that this will NOT become the case in Boston.


28 Responses to “Celtics vs. Lakers: Who Has The Brighter Future?”

  1. Nice post Matt. Good read, and I agree with most of your points. As a fellow Celtics fan, however, I have something of a hard time giving the Celtics’ front office an edge over the Lakers’. As you mentioned, the Kendrick Perkins trade was disastrous – and it might’ve very well cost Boston another championship last year. Perhaps they’ll redeem themselves moving forward, but the Perkins trade shall remain a Homer Simpson-like “D’oh!” moment on their record until then.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | March 14, 2012, 8:48 am
  2. the lakers will have a great future regardless of who they have as long as they have the refs on their side, 34 foul shots on the road against 5 for the grizz including two technical shots for the grizz, so the grizz who got 60 points in the paint were only fouled 3 times.Anyone else see something fishy.

    Posted by samtotheg | March 14, 2012, 9:25 am
    • Maybe watch the game instead of a biased nobody. It’s the sameg thing with the grizz announcers. They kept whining about the Barnes clear path foul that resulted in 5 pts. for the lakers, saying he tripped himself, but he was clearly fouled by a grizz player, I think it was young

      Posted by boyer | March 14, 2012, 10:27 am
      • Boyer — I’m not sure if he was fouled, but I do agree that those announcers did more whining about it than I’ve heard in a while.Bad calls are a part of everything game, and you still had a decent lead with minutes left and choked it away. .

        Posted by Brown Mamba | March 14, 2012, 11:17 am
        • Yea, maybe I’m wrong about this, but it seems like the lakers’ home announcers, while biased just like pretty much every other home announcers are, don’t seem to let their bias affect their calling of the game much. They often point out a call that went the lakers way as incorrect, which happens to every other team contrary to popular belief, but I’ve rarely, if ever, heard opposing teams’ announcers do the same.

          However, I also disliked their constant whining about this ‘supposed’ missed call earlier in the game. They only showed the replay twice, I think, right after it happened, and I didn’t see it again, and I admit maybe I could be wrong, but it sure looked like young’s foot hit barnes’ foot, which caused him to trip. It’s possible barnes could’ve tripped himself, something that almost never happens on the hardwood, but that’s not what I saw. I wish there was a replay of this somewhere.

          Posted by boyer | March 14, 2012, 12:04 pm
      • you are bat shit insane boyer…..or hmm whatever you are smoking you need to bag it up and sell it you are gonna be rich dude.

        Posted by samtotheg | March 14, 2012, 9:27 pm
        • Stop crying, you act like all bad calls in the NBA go the Lakers way. Their are bad calls every game. Deficits like this in free throw happen every once in a while to every team. Why don’t stop with your conspiracy theories and just enjoy the sport.

          Posted by J | March 17, 2012, 5:02 pm
          • j you tard , what team are defending …oh yeah thats rite yer favorite team or a team you are biased for, the lakers are never on the bad end of a shit officiating game, they get all thee calls, and you are telling me a team that outscored the lakers in the paint and shot 29 less free throws thats normal, that barnes play was a good call, jackass yer team is pampered and got ramon sessions for garbage …but guess what you still are not winning a ring.

            Posted by samtotheg | March 17, 2012, 10:40 pm
          • What team are you attackin…oh yea the Lakers a team that you hate and are biased against. Lakers are never on bad end of calls, okay, just keep telling yourself that. You obviously don’t watch Laker games, because bad calls in Laker games go both ways. And I never said it was normal I just it happens every once in a while you can take that how you want, but every year there is a game that has free throw numbers like this.

            If you look at the stats you would see the Grizzlies had 22 fastbreak pts. to the Lakers 5. Which brings the half court pts. in the paint down to 49 to 38 Lakers. The Lakers don’t foul on fastbreaks they watch ’em. And if you look at the shot chart you would see that the Grizzlies took an awful lot more jump shots than the Lakers. Hmm maybe that means the Lakers were attacking the rim more in the half court offense, where most fouls happen.

            The Lakers are 11th in fta/gm, that means ten other teams get more calls than us, we’re first in pts. in the paint and dead last in fastbreak attempts by the way. Most team under us are jump shooting teams.

            We got Sessions for nothing, oh like how the Clippers got Nick Young for nothing, the Nets got Gerald Wallace for nothing, and the Pacers got Leandro Barbosa for nothing. If you kept with B-ball the league started a new CBA, many teams are shedding cap space.

            The way I look at is you brought up a subject that had nothing to do with the article and started talking shit about my team. It’s almost like you put up a bat signal son.

            Posted by J | March 18, 2012, 3:03 pm
          • wow ,yer hero is gaaarbage …..3 for 20 with 7 turnovers …he had more than double the turnovers than made shots… I saw kobe play matador D in the 4th damn I think I am going to move him outta of the top 15th…yer boy shot his team outta the game ,hes done that multiple times this year, even with the lakers getting 18 more foul shots,bynum only missed 2 shots, you lil bitches always say kobes teammates play like bums ,wwow and he badly missed the last shot, didnt wanna call timeout ( he didnt wanna call timeout during the boston game either, and yer boy ramon sessions is ineffective with shotjaker bryant on the court with him,wow bynum MISSED 2 shots kobe made 3 ….wow defend that crap…..and since u keep with all the teams . there is no way u have kobe in the mvp discussion …with teams like heat spurs thunder magic etc… and players like lebron d wade d rose durant westbrook d howard and tony parker having better seasons than the BRICK MAMBA…m-v-p my ass hahahahahaha

            Posted by samtotheg | March 19, 2012, 12:56 am
  3. Nice post Matt. Between Kobe’s and Gasol’s salaries, the Lakers are stuck in terms of cap flexibility for the next few years; they won’t trade Kobe, and probably can’t get good value back for Gasol (unless Gasol-for-Rondo is really on the table, in which case, what are Lakers waiting for?). So the Celtics’ greater cap flexibility, with KG and Allen coming off the books this summer, give them an edge in the short-term.

    On the other hand, the Lakers are, and probably always will be, the more popular destination for free agents – and that brings me to the summer of 2014, when Kobe, Gasol and Artest (I simply refuse to use his new name) all come off the books. That’s more than $50M, and I think close to $60M, in cap room right there. Do you know who can become a free agent in 2014? Some guy wearing #6 for the Heat, who will still only be 29 that summer.

    Mark my words: LeBron James will be a Laker come the fall of 2014. You can blame me then for “The Decision II”.

    Posted by E-Dog | March 14, 2012, 4:43 pm
  4. Although I do agree with the most of the post, I strongly disagree with the celtics having the better front office.

    Ainge has counted on an injury prone Wilcox to hold up in a condensed season and paid him and Dooling a combined 10.5 million. He chose J.R Giddens over Deandre Jordan even though he was an easy sleeper pick and the Celtics could have used a backup big. He signed Rasheed Wallace to an 18 million dollar deal and lucked out on his early retirement. He gave the rest of that money to a washed up undersized PF to play center in Jermaine Oneal. He was the last Gm to trust the cancer Stephen Marbury. He rolled the dice on trading Perkins and relied on Shaq?

    Plus the last time a big free agent signed with boston was in 1994 and that was a washed up Wilkins. Give me LA’s front office any day

    Posted by stillshining | March 14, 2012, 10:59 pm
  5. and btw the biased reffing continued….22 free throws to 40 every time the lakers were down by 5 or 6 etc the lakers wud get touch fouls.

    Posted by samtotheg | March 19, 2012, 12:59 am
    • Oh no Kobe had a bad game. Yes he did he really didn’t force, but a couple shots tho. No excuse for his play last night. Should of fed the hot hand of Bynum. Sessions is ineffective with Kobe on the floor huh, he’s played two games so far and mainly with the second unit. I never said Kobe was an MVP candidate this year it’s between LeBron and KD. Kobe’s in the second tier with the rest of those you listed, but has no chance.

      And really you know nothing about me I’m a Kobe fan this is true, but a Lakers fan first. I’ve never said that all the rest of the Lakers play like bums. I said other than Gasol and Bynum they do. And hopefully now that we have a point guard we can use all our players to their strengths.

      I know all sixteen championship were given to us by the refs. The refs in no way ever give calls that shouldn’t be to any team other than the Lakers. What is this deep seeded hate for the Lakers you have. I feel like they kidnap your mom and took turns raping her or something, because you definitely have an unhealthy obsession with proving the team has not been a great as they have.

      Posted by J | March 19, 2012, 7:26 pm
      • Maybe Kobe should actually share the ball? 10 for 27 tonight. MISSED more shots than any of his teammates TOOK. Took more shots than Bynum and Gasol combined, though their efficiency was, once again, off the charts. To be fair, Drew was disqualified early, but still, an alarming trend for Laker fans.

        Posted by William | March 20, 2012, 8:32 pm
  6. the brick mamba strikes again rite now i wudnt trade kobrick for fuckin james harden, i hope he goes for 40 tomorrow that means he will shot 50 shots to get there haha.

    Posted by samtotheg | March 20, 2012, 10:36 pm
    • The Black Mamba strikes again huh. 30 pts. 11 for 18 getting used to playing with a true point guard for the first time in his career. I think you should be scared a very efficient Kobe, just wait they get to know each others tendencies. The Lakers will be lethal and no I’m not taking that from this one game. I knew when we got Sessions, if Kobe was willing to let him run the offense there will be no stopping that offense. Looks like he is, but as I said one game doesn’t tell the whole story.

      You wouldn’t trade Harden for Kobe and that’s why your not a gm. You’ve pretty much based Kobe’s whole season off two games if I done that then Gasol is a great 3 point shooter. Two bad games in a row for Kobe happens, three I don’t think so.

      On another note I had no idea Sessions had a shot like that haven’t watched him play since the Bucks he had no shot back then. Makes me feel even better about this trade. Gasol put in work tonight too. But damn you see that reverse alley oop and 1 by Kobe that was sweet.

      Posted by J | March 21, 2012, 9:40 pm
      • Haha you said 2 games. SAMTOTHEG is going to have a field day with you.

        Posted by William | March 21, 2012, 11:17 pm
      • “Whole season off of two games?”, “Very efficient Kobe”? He’s shooting 43% this year and his usage rate is ridiculous. Kobenuts..smh…

        Sessions is TBD but if you think he’s going to continue to shoot anywhere near 57% you’re kidding yourself. This whole absurd overrating of Sessions is funny but when you go from terrible at that position to merely adequate, I can see why some folks would be excited.

        Posted by ks | March 22, 2012, 9:28 am
        • exactly KS, sessions is gonna be russell westbrooks bitch, and not only that the lakers are what 2 and 2 with sessions they had one good game against a dallas team with a wierd lamar odom and no shawn marion (who wud have had more lenght on kobe) and these guys are thinking they have the title,the lakers went from a D at point guard to a C…and I saw a kobe shotjacking last nite , killing the flow of the offense , the only difference was the shots went in, he still runs his ball movement killing iso’s.dont get too excited kobetards ….ha

          Posted by samtotheg | March 22, 2012, 11:54 am
          • By the way I was saying title at the beginning of the season as long as we got a real point guard. Only five weeks till the playoffs we’ll find out soon.

            Posted by J | March 22, 2012, 2:43 pm
          • The Odom thing is weird. I want to have sympathy for a guy but he’s been utterly unprofessional with the Mavs.

            If he wants to leave and take time off, then leave but don’t half ass it like he’s doing.

            Posted by ks | March 22, 2012, 3:31 pm
          • I feel you on the Odom thing don’t really know what’s going on with that. Shit the Lakers will take him back if he really misses us that much. Give em McBob and Murphy for him. They’ll give the Mavs more than Odom is and Odom would be a happy camper again. Too bad trades are done. He’d probably still be pissed the Lakers traded him, so he’d probably be the same in LA.

            He’s definitely doing the Mavs wrong though.

            Posted by J | March 22, 2012, 5:09 pm
        • Your retarded just jump to all kinds of shit. I said very efficient Kobe for that one game. And hopefully for the rest of the season if he continues to let Sessions run the offense. Yes, I know Sessions will not shoot like that all season, obviously. But he will be just as much of a distributor, it’s what he does and exactly what the the Lakers need. My bad I did get excited I actually posted that like ten minutes after the game.

          Posted by J | March 22, 2012, 2:41 pm
      • wow , where was J when kobe stunk it up the brick mamba is still his moniker til other wise, hes had alot more shit games ,than effective ones maybe you are the one basing it off of one game …look at how many games kobe has had shooting under 40 percent (16)…compared to games he shoots over 50 percent (11) hes more likely to shoot like shit than to light someone up like he did last nite(also note the absence of shawn marion) …to be fair lets look at hardens numbers same criteria games he shot under 40 (14) and number of games he shot over 50 percent (23) hardens nearly the opposite also factor in harden doesnt stymie the offense and plays some actual defense ….and got the better of kobe in the head to head matchup…you remember how butthurt kobe was when harden hit the 3’s and threw em up …kobe tried to back down harden only to get swatted by harden then ibaka kobe didnt do shit ..and cudnt ha.

        Posted by samtotheg | March 22, 2012, 12:18 pm
        • I was around when Kobe was sucking too. Ok Kobe’s had an under performing year I’ll give you that. But your outta your mind thinking Hardens better. Of course he broke the offense to do isos. He has never been able to play as a true 2 guard. Whatever It’s useless I’ll leave it alone for a couple weeks and come back. This is the real Laker team right hear Imma let em gel for a while.

          I’m not basing it off 1 game he had four good games before those two stinkers. Yea I got a little excited, but D to C nah at least B-, he’s an above average PG.

          Posted by J | March 22, 2012, 2:36 pm

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