The former coach of the team a few former Celtics are currently playing for (I know that's a tad complicated) weighed in on what is happening in Boston.
Avery Johnson coached the Brooklyn Nets last season before being summarily discharged when the team wasn't quite performing up to snuff. Now the Nets are coached by Jason Kidd and they added a couple of future hall of famers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the trade from Boston to help them get a title.
Johnson spoke to WEEI before Wednesday's final preseason game against Brooklyn.
“This is a totally different year for the Celtics,” Johnson said. “A lot of the pieces that were there last year, those guys are pretty much in the twilight and near the end of their careers. They still had a lot of great basketball in them and can carry a team during the regular season, but that was an aging team.”
Johnson, known as the “Little General” during his playing career, believes the Celtics were never the same after Ray Allen’s departure to Miami as a free agent last offseason.
“The loss of Ray Allen was too much,” Johnson said. “They never really were able to fill his shoes in terms of the great work he did on the court for the Celtics over the years during their championship runs.”
Well losing Rajon Rondo for half the year didn't exactly help either, but point taken. Jason Terry was awful in green. He also has a point about Boston being an aging team before the blockbuster deal that sent KG, Pierce and Terry to Brooklyn. There will always be a part of me that would have liked to have seen what Garnett and Pierce had left for this year, but with an injured Rondo, those two would have had to carry more of the load early in the season and fatigue would have shown come playoff time.
Johnson went on to say rebuilding was the right move for the Celtics.
“You’ve got to strike when the iron is hot. Especially with the rich history of the Celtics, a team that’s used to winning, if you’re playing in Boston and you’re an average team, that’s not good enough. It was either going to be, ‘How can we add some free agents to Paul Pierce, [Kevin] Garnett, Jason Terry and [Rajon] Rondo? Can we add one really big free agent?’ They weren’t going to be able to do that because guys like Dwight Howard and Chris Paul signed elsewhere, so the next best thing was rebuild and get as much value as you can for your star players. I’d like to commend Danny because I think it was the right move.”
Despite crediting Ainge for acquiring multiple assets in his quest to rebuild, Johnson admitted he is disappointed to see Pierce wear another jersey.
“I was always rooting for Pierce to retire as a Celtic,” Johnson said. “Guys like Pierce, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, I’ve rooted for those guys to retire and play for only one team. I was always rooting that Pierce would be able to wear one uniform.”
I'm sure there are more than a few fans that would agree that Pierce should have retired a Celtic. But again, Johnson has a point. This team would have been fighting for the fourth or maybe fifth seed (if they were lucky avoiding any injuries to Pierce or Garnett) had it stand pat, only to get trucked by the likes of Indiana, Miami or Chicago. Get the best deal you can while the guys have some value and rebuild.
photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America Eric Blaisdell 10/26/2013 01:14:00 AM Tweet