By most accounts, the Boston Celtics enjoyed a successful season.
They were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, reached the conference finals, and played with a cohesiveness often lost on the modern NBA game. But there is room for improvement.
The Celtics have been collecting first-round picks in recent seasons thanks to the seemingly never-ending gifts received from the Nets in the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry trade.
With those picks, Boston has selected a number of intriguing prospects, including last year's No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown. Brown, who starred at California, proved during the postseason that his future is bright.
While that pick may have worked out, the Celtics hardly needed three first-round picks last year to clutter an already packed roster. With the No. 1 pick in this summer's NBA Draft in hand, president of operations Danny Ainge may finally be ready to be aggressive.
“We have a lot of good players,” Ainge said, via The Boston Herald. "But we need some great ones.
"Just because you’re one piece away doesn’t mean you can get it. And if you force yourself to get it, and if you force a deal or force yourself to get the second-best available or the third- or fourth-best available player at that position that you need, then it might not make you that much better or make you still not good enough, and you’re stuck.
"So, yeah, we’re not that far away, but we’re still a ways away. We still know we need to get better. Everybody in our organization knows we need to get better. We need to add.”
The Celtics have recently been linked with the likes of Kevin Love, Paul George and Jimmy Butler. None of those deals really took on serious legs, so Boston may have to change its focus to players from the Western Conference.
Point guard Isaiah Thomas is certainly on board. He has claimed he's willing to forgo a big pay day to help the Celtics add some more talent.
But who will be available?
The most obvious fit in free agency is Gordon Hayward. Not only has Hayward developed into an All-Star caliber player in the NBA, he also played for current Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler. Hayward's outside shooting and athleticism on the wing would be a huge addition for the Celtics.
Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap should also catch Boston's attention. The Celtics were consistently out-muscled by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals, and the addition of a strong interior presence could balance the scale. Millsap seems the more likely of the two to join.
There is also the possibility of a trade. Love isn't going anywhere, neither, it seems, is Butler or George, so the Celtics have to find a new target.
DeMarcus Cousins could be a fit. He's a load in the paint, one of the best offensive threats in the game, and a great area rebounder. The Celtics would likely want Cousins to agree to a long-term deal before making a trade, but New Orleans would likely listen to an offer.
Damian Lillard, though maybe not a great fit with Thomas on board, could also be in play. he is an elite scoring guard that could thrive in Stevens' offense.
Whether Boston raids free agency, or packages prospects and picks for a blockbuster trade, it will be interesting to see how they improve this offseason.