The Boston Celtics must avoid complacency when chasing Banner 19

Brad Stevens cannot sit on his hands this offseason with the rest of the league building rosters built to beat Boston
Brad Stevens cannot sit on his hands this offseason with the rest of the league building rosters built to beat Boston / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics reached the pinnacle, but 29 other teams are ready to knock them off their perch. 

Even without a hard salary cap, maintaining a championship-level nucleus in the NBA is increasingly challenging. The everyday news cycle has put an unrealistic emphasis on excellence, and players have responded by frequently searching for destinations that best harness their aspirations. 

After securing a ring, it's natural to subsequently try to cash in on that success. After being an integral part of the Denver Nuggets' 2023 title, Bruce Brown left the mile-high city to sign a two-year/$45M deal in free agency. The year prior, Brown inked a contract for about a quarter of the price, despite being essentially the same guy. Despite the looming salary cap increase and his undeniable talent, the hefty price tag was seen as a necessary cost because he helped raise a banner—regardless if he was, at best, the sixth option on the squad. 

Other franchises will also make moves catered to crippling the Celtics' strengths. The New York Knicks, whom many regard as the stiffest competition in the Eastern Conference, acquired Mikal Bridges, which means they have a group composed of a quartet of athletic two-way wings to challenge Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It's a strategy other clubs will likely implement to help neutralize their physical advantages. 

While everything changes around them, Boston's compliance could make them a sitting duck. 

The Boston Celtics must be proactive this summer

In a city that prides itself on excellence, lifting only one Larry O'Brien trophy during this golden era would be seen as a disappointment. So, how can Brad Stevens and the rest of the front office be in attack mode this summer?

It starts with embracing the status of champs. Ownership is willing to cover the second-apron bill, but new rules limit flexibility once the cap reaches that threshold, so the moves must be creative. Despite what ESPN pundits want the public to think, Boston will be a destination because of its place in the league pecking order. Veterans hungry for a championship will likely want to join a proven bunch rather than bet on their potential. 

Even with their obvious progression, Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser should not be guaranteed spots in the rotation. Both are incredibly streaky shooters and have trouble with consistency on the defensive end. It shouldn't be inconceivable that better alternatives become available. If the organization were willing to ship off an emotional leader like Marcus Smart, they wouldn't hesitate to inject new life into the bench.

Sitting back is unacceptable. Dramatic changes are unnecessary, but fine-tuning around the edges is crucial.