Time Has Passed Boston’s Big Three
The sinking Celtics need a shake-up.
by DJ Dunson / @dunsonchecksin
There comes a time in the life of most children when they realize that their parent or parents can’t take care of themselves anymore. They get weak, fall easily and develop brittle bones. This plight describes the 2012 Boston Celtics.
The Big 3 reached its peak in 2008 and 2010, but they are now tumbling down a dangerously steep mountain. That mountain is called the Eastern Conference standings. Monday’s loss to Oklahoma City was Boston’s fifth in a row, dropped the Celtics to 4-8 and has them sitting in ninth place in the conference.
Nothing’s worse than wasting time and resources on a roster that no longer has championship talent. All Danny Ainge needs to do is consider the current state of Joe Dumars’ Detroit Pistons for a look at Christmas Futures. After the Pistons’ championship window closed, Dumars seemed intent on chilling his aging roster in a cryogenic chamber. The results were disastrous and have left the Pistons whiffing at the wind ever since. Things got so bad, Rip Hamilton demanded a trade and Tayshaun Prince became their go-to-guy.
The harsh truth is that the Celtics’ championship window is closed shut, vacuum-sealed and bulletproof. This off-season, general manager Danny Ainge has to begin renovation by tearing down rusty pillars and turning the “The Garden” into a nursery. It’s time to go young and begin developing talent. By not doing so they’d only be delaying their inevitable collapse and tying themselves to a bolder on hill.
The Dallas Mavericks saw the same light, and instantly dumped nearly half of their aging roster for a shot at forming a big three of their own with Nowitzki, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard in 2012.
Life is cyclical and so is basketball. Developing rookies is just as unpredictable as the decline of veterans. Kevin Garnett is averaging the fewest points per game since his rookie season. Fortunately, Ray Allen’s teardrop shot is still impeccable but unless he’s wiling to take considerably less money, the Celtics don’t need to pay a 37-year old $10 million on a rebuilding team. Paul Pierce is also averaging a career low 15.7 points per game but is still serviceable and has trade value.
The most worrisome aspect has been their first rate defense’s decline into the bottom third of the NBA.
Recently, Rasheed Wallace, who hasn’t played since riding the Celtics pine on the way to the 2010 NBA Finals, said he’d consider mounting an NBA comeback for the 2012 season. Meanwhile, the current Celtics are saddled in the post by Jermaine O’Neal’s injury-riddled knees and the young unknown, unproductive Greg Stietsma at center. They could use Wallace’s size, versatility and talent. After all, the Celtics are the NBA’s second-worst rebounding team. To their credit, the Celtics have not shown any interest. If Celtics fans are bummed about this, they shouldn’t be. If there’s one thing this team doesn’t need, it’s to add another 37 candles to their fire hazard of a team birthday cake. This team has enough experience.
The Celtics have a young superstar of their own to build around in point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo’s shot accuracy is worse than a B-movie villain’s henchman firing a pistol at James Bond, but Rondo is entering his prime as one of the game’s best distributors and defenders. Ainge can’t afford to waste Rondo’s prime as the caretaker of an assisted living community, feeding Garnett, Allen and Pierce.
Fortunately for Ainge, he will get a reprieve this summer when Garnett and Allen’s $31 million combined contracts come off the books. Hopefully, this was by design. The Celtics can’t count on Jeff Green returning as the final piece of their championship puzzle. It’s not.
Dwight Howard may not have the Celtics on his trade-list but there are other ways to begin building around a young point guard than by spending $100 million on a rebounding machine with equally robotic post moves. Not signing David West hurt this team significantly but look at how the Mavericks, Trail Blazers have done it. Portland scrapped the Jailblazers unit and have stayed competitive despite a biblical plague of injuries raining down on their first-round lottery picks.
Celtics fans deserve better than to watch the Garnett, Allen and Pierce struggle to first-round playoff exits for the next few years. Time has passed them by and so have the Eastern Conference’s elite. This is no way for Celtics fans to live.