Wait patiently or act now? Boston Celtics have a hard call to make
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Jaylen Brown #7 and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics look on in Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semfinals against the Toronto Raptors at The Field House in Orlando, Florida, September 1, 2020. /CFP

Jaylen Brown #7 and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics look on in Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semfinals against the Toronto Raptors at The Field House in Orlando, Florida, September 1, 2020. /CFP

The Boston Celtics finished the 2019-20 season by losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. The good news is that Boston keep a young core – Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are 22, 24, 26 and 28 years old respectively – and have three first-round picks for the coming NBA Draft in mid-November.

The bad news is they will have to luxury tax from the 2020-21 season while there are still several awfully clear weaknesses with Boston's franchise. They lack reliable rim protectors and have trouble defending big men; their bench unit has become liability in most games; Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward are over 30 years old and on big contracts.

More importantly, as Brown's four-year, $115 million deal begins to take effect in the new season, luxury tax will be unavoidable for Boston.

That meant Danny Ainge (general manager and president of basketball operations of Boston) will have to be very careful with every dollar he spends. For example, signing a mini mid-level exception contract (about $5.7 million) will cost Boston almost $30 million with tax added.

From L to R: Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Robert Williams III of the Boston Celtics. /CFP

From L to R: Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Robert Williams III of the Boston Celtics. /CFP

Therefore, Ainge may prefer to dig inside first for improvements. Growths of Boston's major roster – Walker, Brown, Tatum, Hayward, Theis, Smart and Brad Wanamaker – are predictable. Meanwhile, Enes Kanter and Semi Ojeleye both have their problems but can also be useful for special occasions. If there's any surprise, it should come from Robert Williams III, Grant Williams and Romeo Langford.

Both Robert (2.03 meters tall) and Grant (1.98 meters tall) are undersized in their positions. Roberts is a good finisher thanks to his athleticism but he lacks the experience and skills to become a qualified defender. By contrast, Grant can handle his defensive role especially in switching but his poor offensive performance almost offset all of his contributions on the other side of the court.

Langford was selected by Boston with the 14th overall pick last year, higher than both Robert and Grant. Yet as a 1.93-meter tall swingman, he has to compete with Brown and Tatum. If nothing goes wrong, it's hard to imagine that Langford will receive much time on the court.

So much for inside talent exploration. Then what about the draft? Boston have the 14th (from the Memphis Grizzlies), 26th and 30th (from the Milwaukee Bucks) picks this year. Two facts should be pointed out: first, the 2020 Class was seen by many as weak; second, Langford, Robert and Grant were selected with the 14th, 22nd and 27th picks. The chances of Boston finding any treasure in the 2020 draft do not look good.

Marcus Smart #36 and Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics look on in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida, September 25, 2020. /CFP

Marcus Smart #36 and Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics look on in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida, September 25, 2020. /CFP

Usually a young team is willing to wait for young men to grow. Nonetheless, Boston cannot afford to do that. Tatum only has one year left of his rookie deal and Angie will be crazy not to offer him a maximum deal in advance during the offseason. Therefore, Boston's best choice is to win now which will require bold signings on the free agent market or big trades.

The following giants are all good targets on the free agent market: Marc Gasol, Derrick Favors, Aron Baynes, Serge Ibaka, Hassan Whiteside, Mason Plumlee and Dwight Howard.

Favors, Ibaka and Whiteside may ask for much more than Boston can offer; Gasol reportedly prefers to go home to Spain; Baynes has health problems; Howard won't be of much help against Miami; Plumlee does not look like a game changer, neither is he worth $30 million.

Let's change our way of thinking. If Boston are willing to splurge, they can put all three first-rounders in a package plus one major roster to go for one of the following true game changers:

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers faces Daniel Theis of the Boston Celctics in the game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, February 1, 2020. /CFP

Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers faces Daniel Theis of the Boston Celctics in the game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, February 1, 2020. /CFP

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. If Philadelphia decided to bet on Ben Simmons as their cornerstone and Boston put Brown in the deal, it will be negotiable business. Boston will love it because if the trade happens, they will have one of the best squads in the East to face the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, why would Philadelphia cut their own flesh to feed Boston who have been their major rival for years in the East?

Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz reacts in Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference First-Round playoffs against the Denver Nuggets at AdventHealth Arena, August 21, 2020. /CFP

Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz reacts in Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference First-Round playoffs against the Denver Nuggets at AdventHealth Arena, August 21, 2020. /CFP

Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. Two things will be in favor for Boston. First, Gobert only has one year left of his contract with Utah; second, Utah do not want to and should not give their designated veteran player rule (DVPR) deal to a defensive center.

Nonetheless, there are also two things Boston won't like. First, Utah may want to wait until the middle of the season to discuss trade over Gobert – a long delay can mean trouble; second, Boston must convince Gobert to extend his contract after they invest at least smart and multiple picks in the trade.

Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic faces Daniel Theis of the Boston Celtics in the game at AdventHealth Arena, August 9, 2020. /CFP

Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic faces Daniel Theis of the Boston Celtics in the game at AdventHealth Arena, August 9, 2020. /CFP

Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic. Orlando have made the playoffs for two straight seasons but they were also eliminated in the first round for two seasons in a row. Vucevic is playing the best game of his career, does he want to make a change?

The truth is, Orlando are also talented. Injuries do not necessarily keep Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac or Mohamed Bamba from meeting people's expectations on them. Considering that the competition for playoff qualification in the East is not as intense as it has been in the West, Orlando may prefer to keep Vucevic while waiting for surprises to emerge from their own squad.

Like we said at the beginning, Boston still have a young core – Tatum is 22 and Brown is 24. That should give Boston the best reason to think it over before making any decision. After all, it won't be easy to bet everything even if they want to.