The Boston Celtics have seen the ship leave the harbor a long time ago. There’s not much to salvage in terms of trade value from a team with a recovering from injury Rajon Rondo, and old and not so healthy Kevin Garnett and an unmovable Paul Pierce.
More than 20 years ago, the Celtics faced a similar decision. Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale and Larry Bird were at the end of their run, past their peak. The Celtics decided they’ll keep riding their injured, old and ailing horses instead of getting something out of them via a trade.
Ray Allen wasn’t traded, he wanted to leave. His relationship with Doc Rivers and Rajon Rondo deteriorated last season, and seeing where the rising sun is in the Eastern Conference, decided to break up the group that led the Celtics to two NBA finals, joining the Miami Heat, a move that infuriated Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Hypocritical of them? Garnett left Minnesota once he realized they weren’t going to win anything. But that’s besides the point. The center of the discussion regarding the Celtics this off-season is how to start their rebuild, and do they think Rajon Rondo can be the number one guy on a team; not in terms of quality and ability, but be the actual veteran leader for guys like Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Courtney Lee.
Because Rondo might be an exceptional point guard, hopefully keeping up his level of performance from last season (13.7 points, 11.1 assists, 5.6 rebounds per game), but he is a questionable leader. Doc Rivers might have given him the keys to the kingdom last summer, but the fact is the Celtics were better off without him, and the relationship between the point guard and the head coach has been through a few ups & downs.
Rondo has an arrogant and stubborn streak to him, not to mention his moodiness, which can alienate him from teammates and head coach. This isn’t the Russell Westbrook situation exactly, which usually comes out in outbursts on the floor, but as Kendrick Perkins once said about the two – they’re quite similar in their behavior, acting like little divas sometimes. Perkins meant in a good way, but you don’t usually associate ‘diva’ with good behavior.
Kevin Garnett has been the leader for Doc Rivers in the dressing room ever since his arrival from Minnesota. He might not be the most popular player among other players around the league for obvious reasons, but he has been the face of the Celtics and its spirit since 2007, for good and for bad. Paul Pierce has been the most consistent player, even as he approaches his 36th birthday, but Garnett has been the sound and face of the team.
And now the Celtics don’t know if to release Pierce or to keep him on. If they do release him to save some money on his contract, it’ll mean Garnett most likely will waive his no-trade clause and seek getting shipped off to somewhere else. While it might be the right decision in terms of money and giving the team the opportunity to rebuild around Rondo, Rivers and Ainge are slightly fearing what will turnout from Rondo becoming the alpha-male on this team, and if it might not blow up in their faces, when the situation and future, at least in the short term, doesn’t look too bright in any scenario.