The Boston Celtics are heavy on long-term assets. They have young players, cap flexibility and (of course) draft picks, but if you take a quick step back the club still lacks true foundational pieces.

Danny Ainge ends the 2014-15 season having built up a significant amount of goodwill thanks to the brilliant hiring of Brad Stevens less than two years ago and the Rajon Rondo trade in December, which looks better now than it did initially.

Ainge’s resume has improved considerable in recent years, beginning with the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets for a bounty of draft picks and ending with this February’s deal for Isaiah Thomas. Those moves have helped make amends for a six-year period from 2007 (when the Celtics were gift-wrapped Garnett by Kevin McHale) to 2013 (when he made the deal with Brooklyn) when he missed far more often than he hit.

When meeting with the media on Thursday, Ainge admitted that the Celtics “need to have a busy summer … and we will have a busy summer.” He’s absolutely right, especially coming off a playoff appearance that seemed improbable just a few months ago. 

Brandon Bass and Jonas Jerebko will be unrestricted free agents and the wise move would be to allow both to walk without much consternation. Bass has been a fixture in trade rumors for quite a while and should sign as a key bench piece on a more complete club. Jerebko played well since coming over at midseason, but turned 28 in March and those minutes are better suited for either a developing player or someone that will unquestionably be part of the plan going forward. 

The Celtics can issue qualifying offers to Jae Crowder and Gigi Datome --if they so choose -- making the pair restricted free agents. That would give Boston the right to match any formal offer when free agency opens on July 1. Crowder is obviously more coveted and Ainge showed some of his cards in Waltham when he said the following:

“I can’t emphatically say anything about anybody, other than I can emphatically say, we will definitely qualify Jae Crowder, which I think is pretty obvious,” Ainge said.

The two most talked-about Celtics over the last few weeks have been Crowder and Avery Bradley, albeit for very different reasons. 

Crowder became the public face of the team amid their playoff push on the strength of his passionate play. Playing with reckless abandon, at a fairly high level, is a sure-fire way to win the hearts of Boston fans. 

Bradley came under fire for his poor play during the playoffs, which was surprising as he was one of the few members of the team with any sort of experience playing under pressure.

In truth, the value of Crowder and demise of Bradley have been exaggerated.

The Celtics should look to re-sign Crowder, but Ainge can’t go past whatever number he assigns the 24-year-old entering talks. Crowder wasn’t a vastly different player in Boston than he was in Dallas.

Here are his per-36 numbers in 2014-15:

Dallas: 12.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 2.0 steals on 43.4 FG%

Boston: 14.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals on 41.8 FG%

Crowder produced more, but was less efficient because Stevens asked him to do more than Rick Carlisle did. His usage rate jumped from 15.3% to 17.9% and his advanced shooting percentages suffered as a result (his TS% when from 55% to 51.2%). His overall offensive game changed as he moved a bit closer to the basket, resulting in fewer threes and more trips to the line. That is a direct result of playing in a different offense and becoming more of a featured player. 

Stevens is quite fond of Crowder, as well he should be, but his role with the Celtics must be viewed in the context of getting better as a whole. Is he going to be an occasional starter and play close to 30 minutes for a team that challenges to win the Eastern Conference? His versatility, especially on defense, is incredibly valuable, but the answer is no. Instead, Crowder is better suited for a role that falls between where he was at the start of the season with Dallas and where he finished in Boston.

For a second-round pick that has earned $2.3 million over his first three seasons that still translates to a nice payday. One of the anchors of an above-average second unit can command a deal worth more than $5 or $6 million annually in today’s market -- especially with an assumed increase coming in the salary cap. 

That brings us to Bradley, who took a small step back after signing a four-year, $32 million contract last July, and looked even worse during the playoffs. 

Bradley has never been, nor will he ever be, mistaken for a deadeye shooter, but after becoming a fairly reliable one during the past two regular seasons he struggled mightily against Cleveland. He went just 5-for-19 from three in the four games (26.3%) and shot 38% overall. Two things compounded those percentages -- the Celtics needed him to attempt close to 13 shots and his plus-defense was nowhere to be found. 

If the Celtics are going to take a step forward and, let’s say challenge for home-court advantage in the first round next spring, Bradley needs to fit into a more defined role (much like Crowder). Boston needs an offensive creator, which would presumably come on the wing. That will either push Bradley to the bench or reduce the number of possessions he absorbs.

Asking Bradley to take 8-10 shots, with a third or more coming from three, better suits the Celtics than asking him to essentially be the second option. Bradley (13.1) finished second to Thomas (13.6) in shot attempts under Stevens’ balanced offense. 

The last 200-plus words aren’t meant to be an indictment of Bradley, who will play under an affordable contract for three more seasons. Ainge can use Bradley as a trade chip or Stevens can employ him as a vital member of the rotation as his $8 million annual salary begins to look even better with rising revenues.

What the Celtics achieved in the second half of the season was unique. The bottom of the playoff picture in the East was a war of attrition between a handful of teams with varying flaws. Boston’s most significant defect is that they lack unquestioned, building block talent.

Marcus Smart may become a true foundation player, but Crowder and Bradley are better suited for muted roles. Thomas is the team’s best scorer, but his defensive shortcomings leave him best suited as a sixth man even if he logs 30 minutes. Evan Turner was the No. 2 pick five years ago and seemed like a placeholder when Ainge signed him to a two-year deal last summer.

Kelly Olynyk has shown flashes, but nothing consistent and was in-and-out of Stevens’ doghouse during the Cleveland series. Jared Sullinger hasn’t proven he can stay healthy and devote himself to getting in good enough shape to make a difference. Tyler Zeller played well, but the Celtics are still seeking a rim-protector.

This will be a huge summer for Ainge and the Celtics. If he can land enough talent in the draft, via trades and through free agency, players like Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley will fall into place in more acceptable roles.