After the Celtics won their 17th NBA championship in 2008, we knew the day would come when the "Big Three" would be just too old to make the Celtics legitimate contenders. Well, unfortunately that day is here.
When you watch the Celtics right now, there are many times when they just look helpless against younger teams. They can't rebound; they can't get stops when they need them and they just plain can't keep up.
This should come as no surprise when the average age of their starters is close to 33 years old, and only one player is under the age of 30. The Celtics are relying way too much on point guard Rajon Rondo to do what he did against the Bulls and Pistons, averaging 33.5 PPG, 7.5 REB and 10.5 AST over his last two games. While those are incredible numbers, there is no way Rondo keeps that up. So the questions is what does Danny Ainge do to get Rondo some help?
Ray Allen is averaging just 14 PPG, the lowest since his rookie season, though he is shooting a career high 49 percent from beyond the arc. Allen is in the last year of his contract and could be the final piece a contender needs to put them over the edge.
Obviously Allen is not the player he once was, but he is still a sharpshooter and makes over 90 percent of his free throws, so while he is not going to fill the stat sheet, he can still be a valuable asset.
It is official that Kevin Garnett's bark is bigger than his bite. KG, very similar to Allen, is also averaging 14 PPG, the lowest of his career, minus his rookie year. He is also averaging 7.7 rebounds and less than one steal per game, some of the worst numbers of his illustrious career.
Many fans will still say he inspires his team, and they feed off of his intensity, I feel like that is saying a girl has a "great personality." We all know that just means she is ugly.
Like Allen, KG is also in the last year of his contract, and it is tough to gauge what kind of market he would have, both at the trade deadline and once he is a free agent. It would be extremely difficult to trade KG midseason because he is making over $20 million and having a mediocre season for an average player, never mind a future Hall of Fame player.
Not to mention, since coming to Boston, KG has yet to play a full season because of knee and leg injuries, so what team is going to want to take a big time risk on a player that is overpaid and injury prone?
Paul Pierce has established himself has one of the greatest Celtics of all time and just passed Larry Bird as the second best scorer in team history. He has meant so much to this franchise and has been one of the most underrated players in the league for the last decade, but now he is just an aging star who has sporadic moments of greatness.
Pierce is having arguably the worst season of his career right now, and it's coming at a terrible time. He started the season injured and missed the first few games, and while he may be healthy now, he is just not producing at the level the Celtics need him to.
He is averaging 17 PPG; his rebounds are third worst of his career and his turnovers are the highest they've been in the last four years. Pierce has said he wants to finish his career in Boston, and I do not see any reason why that shouldn't happen. I can't imagine Pierce going anywhere.
I think Danny Ainge needs to look at this team and realize that they cannot realistically compete for a title this season. The best scenario for the Celtics is to get into the playoffs as a No. 5 or No. 6 seed and hope they do not have to play Miami or Chicago in the first round. If they can avoid one of the more athletic teams, then perhaps they have a shot to get to the second round, and then maybe some magic can happen, but again, it's unrealistic.
Ainge also needs to realize that outside of Rondo, they really do not have too many valuable pieces. Ray might bring in a decent return, but is it worth letting an expiring contract go for pennies on the dollar?
There is not a team out there that would be willing to trade for KG because of his contract, so that leaves the bench.
The only productive players the Celtics have on their bench are Avery Bradley (for his defense), Brandon Bass (can score and play some defense) and JaJuan Johnson, who has started to emerge as a solid player off the bench. While all these players have been productive this year, can any of them bring in a player that can help win a championship? Probably not.
The best thing for Danny Ainge and the Celtics to do is play out this season and let Allen, KG and Jermaine O'Neal walk.
The Celtics will then have quite a bit of money to go after some of the big name guys that are potential free agents. Any Celtics fans interested in Dwight Howard? If they can't land a big name like Howard, there are some other guys that would be huge upgrades, like J.J. Hickson of the Kings or teammate Jason Thompson.
Another guy they could look at is Roy Hibbert from the Pacers. He is a restricted free agent, but the Celtics will have the money that the Pacers may not have. The Nets may try and sign Howard, so that could leave Brook Lopez on the market.
What do you guys think the Celtics should do? Feel free to give me your opinion, I'm interested in hearing what others have to say.