Now that Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL, that basically spells doom for the Boston Celtics.
Sure, the Celtics could still make the playoffs without Rondo, but is Boston comfortable with the prospect of being swept in the first round?
This franchise aims for Finals appearances and championships, not merely a hopeless playoff berth against the best team in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat. Boston is above that sort of thing. It's too good to be forced into a hopeless matchup like many small-market teams have to settle for.
So what should head coach Doc Rivers and General Manager Danny Ainge do? The answer is simple.
They should hit the large, ominous, glowing red button. Time to rebuild.
What's the point of holding onto the pipe dream of winning another championship in Beantown? The Celtics' championship window slammed shut with the news of Rondo's injury, and that has become the perfect reason to blow the roster up.
It's easy. The team will build around Rondo beginning in the 2013-14 season. Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass would be a solid starting lineup, although not a very big one.
Kevin Garnett would be a fantastic addition to any contender. He would make them instantly more dangerous. Although he's just a shell of his former self, Garnett is still a feisty leader and a ferocious defender at the power forward and center positions. He can also knock down the 15-foot jump shot with regularity. Any team could use that, no?
If Boston were to trade Garnett, they would have to demand a couple high draft picks. That would be the minimum requirement. The ideal haul for Garnett would be those draft picks, plus a promising young player or two.
A possible trade partner for the Celtics could be the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder would be able to construct a package involving Perry Jones III or Jeremy Lamb. Or maybe both. This would be a good place for Garnett to go because of the fact that the Thunder are ready to win right now, and also the presence of Kendrick Perkins, his former teammate in Boston.
As for Paul Pierce, that's a different story. It's tough to even think about Pierce. He's one of the greatest Celtics of all time, and you don't trade a player like that away. Ideally you'd want him to retire a Celtic. But his 14-year career with Boston has run its course. It's time for a different chapter.
So where would Pierce go? What about the Los Angeles Clippers, who are currently starting Caron Butler at the small forward position? Butler's knees are shattered and has been nowhere near his former Washington Wizard self. Pierce would definitely be an upgrade at that position.
While a trade with the Clippers would be almost impossible to work out—as the Clippers have no promising young players to send back, save perhaps Eric Bledsoe—it would undoubtedly make the Clippers favorites to win the championship.
Other teams Garnett or Pierce would fit in well with would be the San Antonio Spurs (Garnett and Tim Duncan would be an intriguing tandem), Atlanta Hawks (Josh Smith is most likely gone next year so why not go as far as they can this season?) and Dallas Mavericks (who wouldn't want to play with Dirk Nowitzki?).
If there's one thing for sure, Garnett and Pierce have earned the right to go wherever they think will give them the best shot at one last championship.
After all, Ray Allen did it. So why not them?
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