With the news fresh off the press that Russell Westbrook has signed an $85 million dollar contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Celtics faithful scratch another star name off the list of potential suitors.
There is no question that the Celtics are loaded with young, fresh talent. However, they are missing key pieces that make them championship caliber. Al Horford is a notable addition. Horford is a strong, physical presence, a jack of all trades. While he is a decent rim protector, his defense against the Pick-And-Roll is dominant. He can score in the paint and continues to work on improving his 3 pt. percentage. Horford has the leadership qualities and star power that the Celtics were looking for when they pursued him. However, they need more. The Celtics need more to beat Cleveland to own the East.
Ainge and the Celtics laid out the red carpet for Durant, Hollywood style, yet that still wasn’t enough. Westbrook, much to the surprise of many decided to stay and sign an extension with the Thunder. Blake Griffin, another superstar on the Celtics radar seems to be a no go according to Clippers coach Doc Rivers. Speculation after the Westbrook extension has been that Griffin may sign with OKC next year, join Westbrook to assist in bringing a championship to Billy Donovan’s team.
Are 2016-17 dreams of a new Celtic Big Three dead? What about Jahlil Okafor and Demarcus Cousins? Nothing against the talented Duke standout, but Okafor is not yet at the caliber to be considered to be a member of a “Big Three.” While many critics seem to obsess over Okafor, I believe that Okafor can become an elite player, he is just not there yet. His offensive skills can be of much use to the Celtics, who struggled with offensive consistency last year. And he would fit in with the current Celtics scheme.
Then there is Demarcus Cousins. Rumors have been circulating that Cousins will sign with the Lakers for the 2018 season, mainly because the Lakers were his favorite team growing up. Must admit, hearing that made me laugh aloud, it takes more than a favorite childhood team to make a major career move. Putting money aside, the Lakers will have to offer Cousins the vision that he seeks, a path to the title. Under the Lakers current regime, I doubt that is possible. Cousins has spent years on a team that has done very little to put a championship team together. Does he want to go to a team in the early stages of rebuilding? A Lakers team with questionable leadership. Still, the Kings are reluctant to trade him. Vlade Divac, VP of Basketball Operations and GM, but most notably one of the best Centers in Kings history has been vocal in saying Cousins will not be traded. Cousins would round out the Big Three perfectly. Cousins can do everything, he is an elite player, only if he could stay out of foul trouble.
Who will the Celtics pull before the season begins? My money is on Jahlil Okafor. Cousins is a pipe dream, right along with Durant and Westbrook. Okafor is a realistic option, one that will improve the Celtics, but still not catapult them to championship standards. What will it take for the Celtics to be the destination spot? Outside of the 17 championships of course.