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From the moment the Celtics nation got the terrible news on Rondo there has formed two schools of thought regarding the next step that we should take. To hastily summarize, it's "blow it up" vs. "hold on tight". I've written a post explaining why it wouldn't make sense to blow it up, and that has received some fair and valid criticism (how would staying put help us?) as well as some harsh ones (you're a fair weather fan, you support the players more than the team). So in this post, I would like to respond to the former (with Flip Saunders' help) and by doing that dismiss the latter.

Let's think about the very first scenario that comes to mind when we talk about blowing it up. Whom are we going to trade Pierce & Garnett to? Contenders. (Rumors emerged that Grizzlies and Nets could be interested, as usual) What would that give us in return, though? Low trade picks and/or expiring contracts. As we have seen time and again, trade picks are always more valuable before you use them, and low ones can only be used as sweetener, not the actual meal. As for expiring contracts, well, Pierce and Garnett's contracts are going to expire anyways. Would Garnett play for another team rather than retiring? No, and Flip Saunders agrees with me.
“I really believe right now that he’s very much set. He loves Boston. I don’t think he wants to leave Boston,” Saunders said. “KG is a creature of habit. He doesn’t like change. He always was bothered when players were either traded or released. That’s just kind of his innate nature. I believe that he believes he’s a Boston Celtic. I believe that when they sat down and they talked [about a new contract in the offseason] they talked about him finishing his career in Boston. Otherwise he probably would have just rode into the sunset.”
It might be a different case for Pierce, but I'd rather hold onto him and make it his decision. He deserves it, and it's good for the reputation of the organization anyways.

If we're not trading Pierce and Garnett for nothing, who are the other options? Sullinger and Bradley? Yet that's totally against the idea of blowing it up and rebuilding.

So what we have at hand is players like Bass (untradeable), Green (quite untradeable), Barbosa, Lee and Terry. What would they turn into? We've always talked about them having not much value, and in a situation like this, it's gonna be even worse (with the possible exception of Lee, but he's not enough to attract players by himself)

Therefore, Ainge has two viable trade options: Make a combination of several players to land a superstar (which will probably involve Sullinger or Bradley so it has to be someone superior to them), or create cap space to lure an upcoming free agent. I don't see any players in the first category, and a team with Pierce and Garnett has a better chance of luring superstars than a rebuilding team in a city that has crappy weather, high taxes and not much media presence. Even with the All-Stars we had we couldn't attract the likes of Reggie Evans, David West and OJ Mayo, so don't even dream about landing Dwight Howard etc.

As I explained yesterday in detail, the route I'd take is to go out with a fight. Make sure the Celtics stay relevant at least for a couple of years so that you can attract some talent. If things are looking worse than it is now, trade Pierce and Garnett in the offseason, or let them retire or whatever and then start rebuilding. The upcoming draft class is bad (at least that's what I've read in many scout reports), so tanking wouldn't make any sense either. Saunders thinks along the same path again:
“I don’t think so, no. I think they’re going to hold tight. They’re going to give this one more go of it,” Saunders said. “I think the idea that they feel is that we can see where this takes us, let’s give these guys an opportunity to play together and still know that in the offseason if they had to do something they could probably still do something in the offseason if the season didn’t go as they liked.”

My understanding (and hope) is that unless Ainge pulls a very huge rabbit out of his hat, we're not likely to make any major moves. But then how would the Celtics adapt to this recent development? Let me consult Saunders one last time:
“They’ll change a little bit,” Saunders said. “They’ll probably become more defensive-oriented, even more so now. I really believe that Doc will probably have to do more play-calling, where when he had Rondo, he was kind of an extension of him on the floor — he let Rondo pretty much run the show, call the plays. I think now he’s probably going to be a little bit more calling plays from the sidelines.

“And I think you’ll see more of the offense facilitated through Paul Pierce. You saw yesterday Paul getting a triple-double. And probably putting the ball into [Kevin Garnett] in the post more and letting people play off of him in the post.”

So let's all take a deep breath and enjoy this final ride with the Big 3. (Wait, haven't we heard that before? Oh well.)

semioticus (shelbyl) 1/28/2013 11:23:00 AM Edit
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