The Boston Celtics are a shadow of the team they once were and have been all season. This team will do well to win a postseason game regardless of who they play, so is it time to examine dismantling and rebuilding the C’s?
Put simply, yes. The team has somehow been better since its biggest star in Rajon Rondo went down with a torn ACL, yet it can hardly depend on the aging names of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to deliver the electric performances they gave in their prime. Their latest loss to the Knicks has the Celtics on a five game skid and on the outside looking in when it comes to competing in the East, so Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers face some tough decisions in the offseason when it comes to rebuilding this team.
WHERE TO START
The number one priority for the Celtics has to be dumping Kevin Garnett and his $12 million contract that extends through the next two seasons. Finding an interested trade partner willing to take on a 37-year old power forward/center with questionable injury issues isn’t going to be easy, but a team in need of veteran leadership will most certainly bite.
One potential destination could be a return to his roots in Minnesota where the T-Wolves may be losing Nikola Pekovic to free agency. With a young core in need of a true leader, Minnesota could easily absorb Garnett’s contract as they only have $49 million on the books next year and would see it as somewhat of a coup to land a player like Garnett.
However they do it, clearing that $12 million from the books clears some cap space for the Celtics to pursuit a free agent center that can address some of their rebounding issues. They aren’t likely to get in on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes so that leaves them going after someone like Pekovic or Al Jefferson. Andrew Bynum is too costly and too risky an option while Chris Kaman doesn’t help the team get much younger.
In any case, the Celtics future rests on them dealing Garnett and getting a younger center that can help them address their rebounding issues.
Aside from that, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for the Celtics to improve. Rajon Rondo is the centerpiece which they have to build around and Paul Pierce not only deserves to play out the last year of his contract but is really owed it by the club who he has served with true class over the years. Seeing Pierce retire in a different uniform would be a disgrace and I won’t even conceive of it.
Outside of those two, the team is locked into contracts with Brandon Bass and Jeff Green that aren’t really tradeable. Those two guys won’t exactly garner a lot of attention in the trade market and together they combine to make over $14 million a season as they basically swap for the starting power forward position when the team has a healthy center.
In the end, it’s Garnett. That’s the basis of a Celtics move. Any small piece that goes out with him will prove inconsequential if the team can bring back a real center and depend on Bass and Jared Sullinger to improve their rebounding and interior defense. They need a good pick and roll partner for Rondo and someone that will add 16-20 points and 10 rebounds per game if they’re really going to compete.
It’s a tough road back for the Celtics, but not because it’s long and arduous. It has more to do with decisions they’ve made due to being too attached to some players and now they’ll have trouble moving them. This offseason will either see the Celtics make a move to head in the right direction or take a lateral step that sees them merely maintain what they have. They have pieces to create something special and after Pierce’s contract expires can acquire more, which is more than some teams can say, but they’ll have to manage what little wiggle room they have for now effectively to move forward.