But tell me, you didn’t feel the way I did when it was announced last week that the Celtics had acquired multi-talented guard Malcolm Brogdon from the Pacers and would sign sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari once the Spurs announced their intention to take him to release, to perform.
Tell me you didn’t wish they could continue the season right away. Say bring the warriors back to TD Garden and play a game 7, then latch on to a game 8 and 9 just for fun.
The Warriors would retain their championship, of course. That was fairly and honestly claimed by the more deserving team. But we’d see what the Celtics would be like with two players whose skills are exactly what the Celtics were missing in the finals.
Oh well, I’ll say it. If the Celtics had Brogdon and Gallinari in June, the Celtics would have an 18th banner and we’d still find confetti scattered along Boylston Street.
The daydream of what they might have contributed to the 2021-22 Celtics can obviously be nothing more than that. And I’m pretty sure the Warriors who lost Gary Payton II and Otto Porter to free hands just after their save didn’t opt for our Hey, Why Not Resume The Series For Fun? to plan.
But as far as consolation prizes go, it’s remarkably comfortable that Brad Stevens is acquiring two players who are a perfect match for each other without anyone making a significant departure.
Brogdon has been quite coveted by Celtics fans since he entered the league in 2016 as a second-round pick, No. 36 overall. The Celtics had three first-round picks that year, posting Jaylen Brown as No. 3 overall before adding significantly less benefit later in the round to Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic.
They also had a handful of picks that produced Demetrius Jackson, Abdel Nader and Ben Bentil, and made a deal in which they acquired a prospective first-round pick from Clippers via the Grizzlies in exchange for two other second-round picks, Deyonta Davis and Rade Zagorac.
Zagorac, who has never played in the NBA, was hit by the pick before the Bucks selected Brogdon, a four-year star and Virginia ACC Player of the Year. When Brogdon won the 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year award, Celtics fans couldn’t help but lament him.
Brogdon is an easy player to desire. He’s not an electrifying athlete, but he’s good to excellent at almost everything. Last season, his third with the Pacers, he averaged 19.1 points, 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He can run the point or play off the ball (he’s a 37.6 percent career 3-point shooter despite only shooting 31.2 percent last season), and he’s a willing and capable defender.
Brogdon could Start at the point for the Celtics and Marcus Smart’s die-hard critics hope so, but that’s not the best use of him. Brogdon’s versatility is ideal for reviving the Celtics tradition of excellent sixth men. Also, the Celtics’ identity will continue to be their fierce switching defense and Smart should remain at the forefront of that. Brogdon is not Smart’s replacement. He’s the perfect match.
When the Celtics took over Brogdon, I initially wondered if that meant Derrick White was on the move. I suppose that’s still possible, but I hope it doesn’t happen. Brogdon has a long injury history. He dropped to the second round with medical problems reminiscent of the Brandon Roy concern when he came to the league, and he only played 36 games last season with hamstring and Achilles tendon problems.
The Celtics have diverse, quality depth in the backcourt with Brown, Smart, Brogdon, White and Payton Pritchard. It should stay that way. They are all needed over the long season.
As for Gallinari, does anyone dispute that the Celtics desperately needed someone with their toolbox as a 6ft 10″ shooter with a high percentage (38.2 percent out of three in his career) and absolutely no conscience?
Yes, he tends to view defense as an annoying interlude between jump shots, but as a goalscorer from the bench who can give Tatum and everyone else on the frontline a breather, Gallinari should score more than he gives up. He may be the Scott Wedman of this group. And can you believe he’s listed an inch taller than Robert Williams? Talk about players with opposite skills.
There really isn’t much for Stevens to do between now and training camp, aside from the formality of letting Brown know they want to sign him for an extension. The Celtics could use another big player behind Williams and Al Horford, but that’s not essential. And it’s okay to phase out the $17.9 million traded player exemption that was acquired when Evan Fournier joined the Knicks. The Kevin Durant rumors? talk show fodder.
The what-if hangover from the Finals lingered for a few more weeks. But then Stevens got down to business, and now Brogdon and Gallinari are coming to Boston to reinforce a team that has had two wins from a championship.
Right there is a master class on how to turn the disappointment of the end of a season into the anticipation of the start of a new season.
Chad Finn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.