Lakers coach Luke Walton admitted what we could already see: Teams are timing their rebuilds to occur during the Warriors’ reign.
What about in the Eastern Conference, where LeBron James‘ teams have dominated? Do the Cavaliers affect team-building strategy?
Celtics president Danny Ainge on The Dan Patrick Show:
It doesn’t, nope.
It doesn’t matter. We have our own problems and our own challenges and trying to find, put players together that can win and compete in the league today is very difficult. Obviously we’re competing to try to get the same players that everybody wants in the league, but other than that, we’re not reacting to things that they’re doing right now. They have a great team. When you have LeBron James on your team, you’ve got to find some players that can compete against him, and that’s tough to do. He’s been the best player in the league for the last five or six years.
I don’t believe Ainge. If he’s telling the truth, he’s not doing his job as well as he could.
LeBron is an overwhelming force right now. He’s also 32 and can become a free agent next summer. Whether it be age-related decline or leaving Cleveland, LeBron could radically change the Cavaliers’ ability to win within a year.
A challenger like the Celtics should absolutely account for that.
And it seems they have.
Though there are obviously other factors, Boston didn’t trade for Paul George, Jimmy Butler or DeMarcus Cousins. The Celtics have hung onto to high first-rounders. This looks like a team waiting out LeBron.
Of course, Ainge wouldn’t want to admit that. The Celtics and Cavaliers met in the playoffs two of the last three years. A conference finals rematch is commonly expected. Ainge wouldn’t want to tell his players – or the Cavs, for that matter – Boston was deferring to Cleveland.
The Celtics look like a team concerned by Cleveland. They swim like a team concerned by Cleveland. They quack like a team concerned by Cleveland.
Maybe, no matter how Ainge frames it, they’re a team concerned by Cleveland.