The start of NBA free agency truly is Christmas in July. But sorry, Celtics fans, after years of pretty presents, it's most likely coal this year.

It's not your fault, even if we have gotten a little spoiled in these parts by all the success of our sports teams. This is just the way it goes during rebuilding. You have to try to save those pennies for a couple of Julys, right some of the wrongs you made at the start of NBA summers past and hope to dive back into the big-name sweepstakes sooner rather than later.

Last July 1, Doc Rivers made Jason Terry his first phone call, trying to recruit the veteran sixth man who the team thought would certainly cure its longstanding bench anemia. The Celtics loaded up knowing full well that the 2012-13 campaign might be the last run for a veteran core led by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, throwing three years and $15.7 million at the now 35-year-old guard. Terry tattooed a Celtics leprechaun spinning the Larry O'Brien trophy on his arm and immediately endeared himself to the region; maybe he can use some of the 7.5 percent trade kicker that Boston will soon pay him to aid the removal.

This year? The Celtics don't even have a coach to make recruiting pitches. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is more likely to call a rival general manager about a deal than try to sweet-talk a big-name free agent.

Terry is just the latest of Boston's mid-level misfires (Jermaine O'Neal, Rasheed Wallace and Chris Wilcox before him). Alas, as an over-the-cap team, the Celtics have often been at the mercy of their few exceptions in hopes of giving their veteran core a boost.

Now, as the Celtics simply count the days before a blockbuster swap that will send Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Terry to Brooklyn can be officially completed, the team is more likely to examine the trade market while trying to unclog cap constraints with the goal of overhauling its roster as quickly as possible.