Celtics will have to methodically rebuild

“I think we’re going to be better this year, I do,” Wyc Grousbeck (right) said Friday.
Jim Davis/Globe Staff
“I think we’re going to be better this year, I do,” Wyc Grousbeck (right) said Friday.

SPRINGFIELD — Although this summer did not include the anticipated “fireworks,” Celtics majority partner Wyc Grousbeck said the organization will take the patient approach to improvement.

Grousbeck, attending the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies and walking in with inductee David Stern, told the Globe on Friday that he remains confident the Celtics will return to prominence.

Mitch Richmond, Alonzo Mourning, former Maryland coach Gary Williams, and former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson are also in the 2014 Hall of Fame class that was inducted on Friday night.


The women’s team from Immaculata College was honored, along with Lithuania star Sarunas Marciulionis. Former Pacers coach Bob ‘‘Slick’’ Leonard, the late Nat ‘‘Sweetwater’’ Clifton of the Knicks, and the late Guy Rodgers of Temple round out the class.

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The Celtics lost out on their quest for Kevin Love when he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the team’s biggest offseason moves were acquiring Evan Turner and a three-team deal that netted Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton. It wasn’t quite the “fireworks” Grousbeck desired in a March interview with the Globe, but he was pleased with the efforts of president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

“I said we’d try for fireworks and we tried,” Grousbeck said. “I’m reasonably content that first of all we tried as hard as we could and second of all we added some good pieces. But we have maintained our draft picks and we’ve maintained more building in the future as opposing to firing all the bullets now.

“We’re going to have to go the more patient route.”

Grousbeck acknowledged what has been known for the past few weeks when Ainge couldn’t pull off a blockbuster deal for Love or execute a sign-and-trade for another significant player. Grousbeck said in March that he wanted to foster the rebuilding process by making a major move before this coming season.


But the Celtics lacked the necessary assets to entice teams looking to dump veteran salaries, such as the Timberwolves. There was speculation that the Celtics would use the first of their first-round picks to acquire a significant player but the team fell to sixth in the draft lottery, hurting their chances.

Instead, the Celtics selected Marcus Smart with that pick and nabbed Kentucky freshman James Young with the 17th pick. The Celtics have potentially eight first-round picks over the next four years to expedite the rebuild, including the Clippers’ first-round pick in 2015.

Grousbeck freely admits he is not patient.

“How happy do I look?” he said. “We were all patient, everybody, the fans were patient in the early 2000s and we have to believe they know how to build in the NBA isn’t a quick flip of the switch. In almost all cases, it is years of preparation in this league.

“You gotta get the superstars, so you’ve got to build up the assets to get them and that’s what we’re trying to do.”


Ainge has orchestrated the salary cap so the Celtics could potentially have more than $30 million coming off the books next summer, including the contract of Rajon Rondo.

“Well, I think that when we have Danny and [coach] Brad [Stevens] on the basketball side, thinking every day, literally 24/7 about how to improve this team,” Grousbeck said. “Whether it’s during the season, next summer or the season after, I’m very confident we’ll get better and I believe that. Those guys are fantastic basketball people. We’ve got a lot of assets. We’ve got a committed, a very committed ownership group, great team partners and it really starts with the fans coming back every year and renewing tickets.

“Everybody’s involved in building this thing and we’ll get there.”

The Celtics finished with a 25-57 record in 2013-14, their worst record since 2006-07, the year before the Big Three arrived. With their offseason additions and a wide open Eastern Conference with LeBron James heading to Cleveland and teams such as the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat undergoing roster changes, the Celtics may have a chance to compete for a playoff spot.

Grousbeck won’t make any predictions but he is confident.

“I think we’re going to be better this year, I do,” he said. “And I think Brad settling in to his second season of coaching will be good and I look forward to see the team.”

Gary Washburn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.