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Mailbag: Resetting expectations for Celtics

We ripped open the Boston Celtics Mailbag on Monday to get a feel for how fans are feeling about the team in the aftermath of the Rajon Rondo trade. Let's take a look...

Q: How depressed are you about the Celtics' future? -- @Andreas_dude (via Twitter)

A: OK, so everyone's jacked and pumped! Chin up, Andreas and the rest of you feeling blue at the sight of Rondo in Dallas Mavericks blue. While the move certainly adds a layer of murkiness to the rebuild and forces a change of direction from the previously pondered path, the Celtics still have enough assets to turn things around with the right moves (and some more patience).

Now, trading away your best player is rarely a good look, and chances are it means a step back in the immediate future -- despite the defiance that coach Brad Stevens is showing toward that suggestion -- but I don't think it's all doom and gloom for Boston.

I believe the Celtics will take the next two months to evaluate the players remaining on their roster and see which way the team as a whole is trending. Hey, the Eastern Conference is so poor that Boston was positioned for a playoff spot before Sunday's loss in Miami, so you can't unequivocally rule out the possibility that this team could still stumble its way into the postseason (and we can all scream and yell later in the season if that's the best option for a rebuilding team).

What's obvious is that Boston has too many similar rotation-caliber players at the moment, and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge must thin out the numbers a bit before February's deadline in order to allow the players who can most help Boston in the future receive the majority of playing time.

In the interim, poor Stevens must find a way -- yet again -- to balance minutes. And while Ainge said he'd like to take a breath following the Rondo deal and enjoy the holidays, the roster logjam will need addressing sooner than later. Contenders with an eye on any of Boston's expiring deals should consider getting an early jump on their deadline shopping. (If Brandon Bass were available on Amazon, the text would read, "IN STOCK. Want him by Wednesday, Dec. 24? Order now and choose one-day shipping at checkout.")

It's prudent to keep in mind that this offseason the Celtics will have an overflowing pile of draft picks, including what's likely to be six first-rounders over the next two drafts, some emerging young talent, and -- for maybe the first time in team history -- the sort of cap space that would allow the team to target a top-tier free agent (though, the trade route might remain the most likely path to finding the next centerpiece of this team).

Too much holiday optimism for you? I can feel you rolling your eyes through the interwebs. You don't want any of this green-tinged egg nog I'm spooning out into oversized Lucky the Leprechaun glassware? Just remember it could be worse. You could be a Pistons fan.

[Read full Celtics Mailbag]