One day after hearing the news of Rajon Rondo tearing his ACL, it still hasn’t sunk in to many Celtics fans minds. Not only is this a major blow to the team as they move forward this season, but Danny Ainge now has the decision of either blowing it up or making minor changes. Boston was once in this situation two decades ago when an aging Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish were entering the twilight of their careers. As we all know, the Celtics didn’t trade them, but what a costly mistake that was. Does Ainge make the same mistake or did he learn from history?
The idea of trading Paul Pierce and or Kevin Garnett is almost unspeakable, but with the Celtics without their star point guard it’s something worth looking into. The Celtics are 21-23 in the first 44 games, 8th in the conference, and 8.5 games out of first place. As much as I want to believe that this team can continue to press on and fight for another title, the odds are just not in their favor. Even before Rondo’s injury, the team showed no sign of life and quite honestly, now it’s official, this team cannot win this year. Pierce and KG are getting older, and many times throughout this season there have been games where both players have nothing left in the tank for the closing minutes in the fourth quarter.
So what does history have to say about this? In the 90’s, after the original Big Three retired, Boston took a nosedive and became one of the leagues worst teams for seven straight years, and then made a slight ascent to an above average team in 2001 to 2003. The Celtics hired Rick Pitino as their head coach which didn’t turn out that well, and Boston had a roster of very mediocre talent. Names like Vitaly Potapenko, Milt Palacio, Andrew DeClercq and Tony Battie come to mind. As dark as those days were, Paul Pierce was the light at the end of the tunnel. He became Larry Bird’s replacement, which the team desperately needed. Unfortunately, it took 10 long years before Pierce could get a ring.
Looking at where the Celtics are now, the slow descent to becoming a bad team is accelerating. You can tell me that they’ll be fine, but honestly, this team has the talent and somehow are in 8th place and under .500. Now, I’m not going to sit hear speculating on what trades Boston should make, but there definitely needs to be some changes. In all fairness, Pierce and Garnett don’t deserve to be on a team that won’t have a chance at winning a title. They still have enough left in the tank to get another ring, but not on this team. I almost liken both of them to Ray Bourque who was in a similar position with the Bruins. Boston doesn’t have a shot at winning a title, so it might be time to move on and give both players a chance at one more ring.
Again, I’m not going to come up with trades, but getting young, decent talent and beginning the rebuilding process now might be something to look into. Boston already has Rondo as their cornerstone, surrounded by Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, and possibly Jeff Green and Courtney Lee, if they don’t get traded. It hurts me to even think of such ideas, but the reality of the situation is that this team isn’t going to benefit, both now and into the future if trades aren’t made.