June 13, 2012 by Jeffrey A. Lambert
After watching the Boston Celtics stay ahead the Miami Heat for three quarters in game 7, only to disappear in the 4th, I would think fans would realize the obvious: this is as far as the Big 3 (or the Big 4 including Rondo) can take this squad. Mother nature has run its course. The ghost of James Naismith has come a’ knockin’. 100% effort just wasn’t enough to win that game from this group. Surely the Celtic faithful have accepted this truth we all knew was coming. It’s time to move on. 5 years. 3 Eastern Conference Finals Appearances. 2 NBA Finals appearances. 1 championship. Let’s be thankful for this run and tuck it in to our pleasant sports memories folder.
Despite these realities, fan message boards abound are pushing for GM Danny Ainge to bring back Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Comments such as “Avery Bradley would have made the difference” and “if Ray Allen were at 100%, we would have won” seem to override the reality of this team’s situation. That is why I say to Celtics fans, with all the patience I can muster, time to blow it up!
The facts are inescapable. Let’s start off with Ray Allen. Allen will be 37 years old and coming off surgery on his ankle for the 2012-13 season . He will want to play starter minutes and earn more than the veteran minimum. He has issues with Rajon Rondo. His wife had a horrible cooking show for a few months on Comcast Sports Network. We don’t need any of that coming back next year. Even the great Red Auerbach wouldn’t be able to convince Ray to come back for another season and play behind Avery Bradley anyways, so this is more about accepting that Ray won’t be coming through that door next season.
On to Kevin Garnett. KG will also be 37 years old come playoff time for the 2012-13 NBA season. Despite his fountain of youth play this past year, KG has never played a full 82 game season since donning green in 2007. He has been absent during some of the most critical stretches over the past five years (a Garnett-led Celtics team would have destroyed the Magic in that 2009 series) and has the knees of a ken doll. Garnett just can’t play the minutes a starter needs to be able to play any more. Asking him to split time with another player next season wouldn’t be fair to KG, and guarantees the Celtics will scare off any young big man talent worth signing anyways (Roy Hibbert won’t accept 25 minutes a game folks, neither will Spencer Hawes). As much as I love KG, bringing him back signals a team that is more concerned with nostalgia rather than progress.
Now for Paul Pierce. “The Truth”. El Capitan. It was painfully obvious during this year’s playoff run that Paul Pierce is an old dog that won’t learn new tricks. Those tricks have worked for him for most of his career, as the Celtics have built teams that fit around Pierce’s playing style: set-up offenses, isolation plays, and “hero ball” chances whenever he feels like hoisting up a 3 while double-teamed. The future of this team lies in a fast-break, motion offense led by Rajon Rondo. The Celtics can expedite the process by trading Pierce, preferably to a contender in the Western Conference. It’s only fair to Rondo if he indeed is the new leader of this franchise, and frankly, only fair to Pierce to let him take his talents elsewhere where he won’t have to change them.
It’s tough to think about; a team without these three players who brought basketball pride back to this city after almost 20 years of disappointment. But it is important to remember that it would be extremely painful to see the Celtics slip back into a decades-long cycle of rebuilding once again by not having the willingness to continue to move forward. That can only be done by changing the face of this team and getting younger, faster, and more athletic. There is a Chinese proverb that states “when you reach the end of a book, close it.” I say that it isn’t time to close this book, it is simply time to turn the page and begin a new chapter.
- You: Boston Celtics 2012: A Team for the Ages That Should Never Be Forgotten (bleacherreport.com)
- Boston Celtics prepare for breakup of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce … maybe (aol.sportingnews.com)
- You: NBA Rumors: Lakers, Bulls and Knicks Reportedly Interested in Ray Allen (bleacherreport.com)