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Are the Celtics Better Off Than the Indiana Pacers?

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Larry Bird has some decisions to make. The Indiana Pacers team president addressed the media Monday following the team's loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, answering questions about free agent Lance Stephenson, the enigma that is Roy Hibbert, and more. Bird was also asked about players from other teams, including Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. The question stemmed from a response Bird gave to his current point guard situation, where George Hill is the incumbent.

On Rondo, Bird told reporters, "He's a very good player. Been great for a long time. It's always good to daydream and wish for these guys..… but everything we do has to be through trades."

A quick note to Larry on Rondo before I make my overall point: back off, bub. Rondo has one more year on his contract and will be a Celtic for a long time if this snarky internet beat writer has anything to say about it.

A more realistic place Bird's comments might collide with the Celtics is the evaluation of the two franchises going forward. In terms of core assets, the Celtics have Rondo and the Pacers have Paul George. Excluding free agents to be, Indiana's current roster including David West, Hibbert, and Luis Scola has more talent than Boston's collective group which includes Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace, and Jared Sullinger. The Pacers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals while the Celtics won 25 games, so you have to give the edge to Indiana in terms of current roster.

In terms of future assets, the Celtics have at least two first-round pics in each of the next three drafts, as well as in 2018. The Pacers don't have any of those extra picks, and they don't even a first-rounder this year at all, having traded it away to the Suns in the Scola deal. In terms of future outlook, the Celtics win this one easily.

Where it gets fun is speculation. The Celtics seem to be hot on the trail of Kevin Love, who would give them a superstar to pair with Rondo. If the Celtics land love, it wouldn't be crazy to envision a third star being far behind. Given all their assets, the Celtics have a much better chance of hitting a home run than the Pacers.

What if the Love deal doesn't happen? What if, through the intricacies of the league, the Celtics are unable to pull off a blockbuster deal for any player? In that case, the argument becomes about whether you'd rather build around George or Rondo, and about whether Rondo would stick around to help the Noah Vonleh's of the world develop.
Despite Hibbert's current troubles, he's still a 7-footer with the potential to be an All-Star. Indiana's troubles would lie in building from the middle or back of the draft, but they've done well there before.

Without the benefit of seeing how this offseason plays out, there's no way of definitely telling which franchise is in a better position. But even without the benefit of hindsight, the fact that we're asking this question about the Celtics and a team that just finished playing basketball last week should give Boston fans hope that their team could be playing into June again sooner rather than later.


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