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Anthony Davis is off the market, so the Celtics must find a new path forward



The Celtics no longer have the assets they had in the past. Blame that on the success of the Sacramento Kings this season, since Celtics owned their first-round pick from the Tatum deal with the Philadelphia 76ers and the Kings nearly made the playoffs.

While they own three first-round picks in Thursday's draft Unless the Celtics included Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and perhaps even Marcus Smart.

So the deal died before it could even develop into a Twitter space and the Celtics move forward with most of the younger core of their roster returns

What Davis' absence does for the Celtics is to ensure that Tatum and Brown will be the franchise cornerstones barring an unexpected deal for another superstar. Brown and Tatum are homegrown players. The Celtics nabbed each with the third overall pick in consecutive drafts (201

6 and 2017) despite neither player being the most popular choice.

 Danny Ainge knew what he was doing when he traded down from the No. 1 spot to take Jayson Tatum at no. 3 in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Danny Ainge knew what he was doing when he traded down from the No. 1 spot to take Jayson Tatum at no. 3 in the 2017 NBA Draft. (Barry Chin / Globe Staff)

And there was no guarantee that the Celtics would be a championship-caliber team with Davis despite the success of Kawhi Leonard in Toronto (the circumstances

It seems like Kyrie is passive-aggressively offering hints to his next free agent destination without really counting the Celtics, so president or basketball operations Danny Ainge is prepared for his departure. Plan B of building the franchise through youth, and rejuvenated Gordon Hayward,
veterans Al Horford and perhaps Marcus Morris, and another free-agent addition, may be more viable path.

It was far too much of a risk to acquire Davis just for one season, and if Irving doesn't want to be a Celtic, the organization can't lament his departure and concern itself about last season and what would have kept him happy.

It's uncertain whether Irving knows what makes him happy. Is the starting point of a young Nets team – without Angelo Russell, their best player from last season – a better scenario than
helping the Celtics win the East? If Irving believes Brooklyn offers him more conducive atmosphere because the Nets won't be favored to win the East with him anyway, then so be it. He should go and the Celtics should move forward. Tatum and Brown are talented enough to lead a franchise and perhaps last season was a prohibitive lesson for both about lack of leadership.

And finally, if Irving signs with the Nets, Brooklyn may have rescind its qualifying sacrifice to Russell. So perhaps the Celtics could pursue Russell if they were able to work out a salary-cap friendly extension with Horford.

Russell is four years younger than Irving and just averaged 21.1 points, 7 assists, and 3.9 rebounds in an All-Star season. It may take some real roster and salary shuffling but it's a possibility.

So there should be excitement among the Celtics faithful about next season or the future. Unlike last season, they won't have a major free agent's status hovering about them and poisoning the locker room fabric.

 Kyrie Irving - and his contract situation - was often a distraction in the Celtics' locker room last season. [19659016] Kyrie Irving - and his contract situation - was often a distraction in the Celtics' locker room last season. </span><span class= (File / Barry Chin / The Boston Globe)

It is important that Tatum and Brown work feverishly this summer to take the next major step. And the Celtics will have to figure out what to do with Terry Rozier, a restricted free agent who said he wants out if Irving returns.

This should be an exciting time in Boston. The Celtics have a chance to get younger and more athletic with their three first-round draft picks. It's uniquely Boston will use all three players who will be in training camp (a stash is a possibility) but they do have a chance to bring in two quality rookies who could contribute to next season and offer more optimism for the future.

It's possible for Ainge to build a championship-contending team without acquiring another superstar. It should be easy but the Celtics have enough overall talent – minus the dysfunction – to compete next season. Let it say let's say, Kemba Walker, or another premium player

Trading for a superstar was their only means of landing a premium player and the Davis idea was something to consider until Paul's comments about Davis wanting to be in Los Angeles. There shouldn't be disappointment about not acquiring Davis because you never want a player coming to Boston who has plainly said he doesn't want to be here.

Of course, Kevin Garnett said that 12 years ago but Ainge puts him with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo – and their chemistry and dominance and Garnett's affinity for the city encouraged him to stay until he was traded away

That same magic couldn't be expected for Davis, who only wanted to go to one place

Honestly, there should be a sense of relief for Celtics fans. Tatum, who is 21 and an emerging star, is staying. Brown is 22 and should take more of a leadership role if Irving departs. Ainge will have a chance to shape this young roster, hope that Hayward returns to All-Star form, and actually gets players who want to be Celtics.

It's not a major reboot for the organization but an opportunity to make some much- Jaylen Brown found his game last season after Brad Stevens' Celtics coach decided to come off the bench. ” class=”height_auto width_full width_full–mobile width_full–tablet-only” data-src=”https://www.bostonglobe.com/resizer/ri27TdjzJ7yyGuTD_Tmk4Ad3pLM=/20×0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bostonglobe.s3.amazonaws.com/public/5XGCS3DDA4I6TBHIHW5XIZSGW4.jpg” src=”https://www.bostonglobe.com/resizer/ri27TdjzJ7yyGuTD_Tmk4Ad3pLM=/20×0/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bostonglobe.s3.amazonaws.com/public/5XGCS3DDA4I6TBHIHW5XIZSGW4.jpg”/>

Jaylen Brown found his game last season after Celtics coach Brad Stevens decided to get him off the bench (Barry Chin / Globe Staff)

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


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