20 Jun 2013
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It appears that the rumored Celtics-Clippers trade may fall through even though it seems to be in the best interest for both teams to make a deal. The proposed deal had the Celtics dealing Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan and two first round draft picks. The two sides want this deal to get done because they have broken off and reopened discussions on too many occassions in the past week for there not to be a mutual interest. The NBA and commissioner David Stern made it clear today that the league would have a hard time approving a package deal that include Rivers and Garnett. It is an unresolved issue and there is still a possibility that the deal gets done or at least a portion of it. It has been reported that the Clippers may just be after Doc Rivers at this time and may pursue Garnett and Paul Pierce at a later date.
The Celtics would not be getting equal value if the trade went through. Kevin Garnett is a future Hall of Famer and DeAndre Jordan is just a serviceable center at this point in his career. The two first round picks will probably not amount to much because the Clippers should be a contender for the next few years and the picks will likely come towards the end of the first round. The Celtics would probably be getting 70-75 cents on the dollar but there are several reasons for them to make the deal anyway.
It is clear that Doc Rivers does not want to come back to the Celtics with the team currently constituted. He only wants to coach a title contender. The Celtics will not contend for a championship in the near future. Even though Garnett and Pierce are still very productive at times, they are not the same players that they were six years ago when they teamed up for the first time. Garnett is 37 and Pierce will be 36 when the new season begins. It would be unfair to ask them to lead a team and play at the same level that they did four to six years ago. It would be more beneficial for them to team up with younger stars like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul where they won't be asked to shoulder the production load and log as many minutes as they would in Boston.
What about teaming up with Rondo next year for one more run? Rajon Rondo missed the remainder of the 2012-2013 when he injured his ACL on January 25th against the Atlanta Hawks. The Celtics were 20-23 at that point of the season. They went through the first half of the season with a losing record despite having a healthy Rondo. They would have finished the regular season in better position then their eventual 41-40 record and 7th seed in the East had he remained healthy. They may have even won a round or two in the playoffs. But they would not have been a championship caliber team. Every athlete is different but it typically takes 12-18 months to heal from the injury that Rajon Rondo sustained on January 25th. Derek Rose tore his ACL in April 2012 and did not play a single game during the 2012-2013 season. Even if Rondo comes back next year, it is unlikely that he will be able to play at the same ability that he exhibited the past few seasons. He may not be back to normal until the 2014-2015 season. If you factor that in and add another year to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's already aging careers , it doesn't appear that the Celtics would be able to contend next year with all three of them on the team.
What about free agency? To paraphrase from former Celtics coach Rick Pitino, don't expect Dwight Howard to be walking through that door next season or any other high priced free agent for that matter. Despite the fact that the Celtics have won a league high 17 NBA championships, Boston has never been a destination city for marquee free agents. NBA players just don't want to spend the winter months or regular season in cold weather cities unless those places are Chicago or New York. Almost all of the great players throughout Boston Celtics history have come through the draft or via trade. This is true of the four core players of this past Championship window between 2007 and 2012. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were acquired in the draft and Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett went to Boston in two seperate trades. It is unlikely that the Celtics will be able to attract any valuable free agents with the state of the team uncertain.
How does the east stack up next year? It should be much improved. All six of the teams that finished ahead of the Celtics will most likely improve or stay close to where they were this past season. Chicago and New York will get key players healthy in Derek Rose and Amare Stoudemire. Indiana should remain competitive for years with their young nucleus of solid players that surround the talented Paul George and Roy Hibbert. Miami will remain around the top of the east for the next few years unless they suffer a major injury. Atlanta has plenty of cap space this offseason and may be able to lure a big free agent or two. Brooklyn may have under achieved this season but they still have plenty of talent and are always exploring ways to improve their team. You can also expect Washington and Cleveland to make a push for the playoffs. The Wizards came on strong at the end of the 2012-2013 campaign when John Wall returned to the lineup and they should improve on their win total as long as Wall stays healthy. Cleveland has emerging superstar Kyrie Irving returning for his third season next year as well as the number one pick in the 2013 draft. If Philadelphia can get a contribution from often injured Andrew Bynum, they will also be in position to make a run at the playoffs.
The bottom line is that the Celtics should get what they can for Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers. DeAndre Jordan will never be Kevin Garnett but he is only 24 years old and KG doesn't have much left in the tank.The Celtics would be best served to trade away KG when he still has some value because they are in no position to compete in the 2013-2014 season. They should give Rajon Rondo all the time he needs to return because he suffered a serious injury and probably won't be operating at the same production level next season. The Celtics will most likely be going into the season with a new coach and a younger roster. They need to let the chips fall where they may. It would probably be in their best interest to tank the 2013-2014 season and get a high lottery pick. If they are fortunate enough to get a superstar in the 2014 draft to play alongside a healthy Rajon Rondo, they will be in better position to compete in the 2014-2015 season.