Monday, June 21, 2010
Yes, it took me 4 days to finally get up the will to write a year-end piece on the Celtics. In lieu of looking back on the season that was, talking about the could-haves, should-haves, and did-nots, I am hear to offer free advice to Danny Ainge. This is advice most won't like, but to be honest, unless you watched and witnessed the end of the Celtics last good run (Late 80's into 90's), I shall take your negativity and respond with a "when I was your age" quip. With that in mind, let's rip=off the band-aid.
Players Under Contract for 2010 as of 7/21/2010
Paul Pierce(If he doesn't opt-out)
Estimated Contract total:61,771,044 (40,774,000 if Pierce opts out) Salary Cap is rumored to be around 56 mil.
6 players and the team is over the cap. No shooters, no back-up for Rondo, no front-court depth, nothing. If Rasheed really does retire, the Celtics still have to negotiate a buy-out to get some cap relief (courtesy Larry Coon's Salary Cap Bible). Their is no bi-annual exception because they used it to sign Marquis Daniels (that worked out SUPER!). So the Celts can offer the mid-level exception of around 6 million to get a player (like they did with Sheed last season). They also have the 19th overall pick in the draft.
It's time to blow this thing up. (Cue the boo-birds in 3...2...1...)
I watched the awkward baton hand from Larry Bird to Reggie Lewis (which would have been much worse if Bird's back hadn't given way). Watching people complain Bird was still the star of the franchise in the 1992 playoff series against Cleveland and watching him cost the Celtics a Game 7 due to his depleted skills was sad. Pierce and Rondo look to be headed down the same road, only the disconnect between the two of them (see Game 5, NBA Finals, for example) is a little more pronounced. Pierce is a an alpha-dog. He wants the ball in his hand at crunch time. The problem is he is just as likely to dribble the ball off his feet as he is to drain a clutch jumper. Rondo is going into the first year of his contract extension. He's an unbelievable talent that needs the ball in his hands to be effective, and he needs to be on the court with guys who can shoot, allowing the floor to be spaced for Rondo to work his magic. Ray Allen may be too expensive for this sort of role, and Pierce seems to not like having to rely on Rondo for the ball. Regardless of whether Pierce opts-out or not, he would be a valuable trading chip with an expiring deal worth 21.5 million. Here is my solution to this. Pierce is from Inglewood. There is a team in LA that has a lot of cap room that could use Pierce to sell tickets and steal some off-season thunder from their Staples Center roommates. That team is the LA Clippers.
Offer Pierce to the Clippers for their number one this year (8th overall). The Clippers need a scoring forward, and adding Pierce to a front line of Blake Griffin and Chris Kaman gives the Clip show a nice lineup. It also allows Rondo to be the face of this team without worrying about Pierce sulking, and I think the more faith and confidence you show in Rondo, the better he will be (just look at how well he played after his contract extension). The other thing is it gives the Celtics some cap flexibility to possibly go after one of the big free agents, or wait a year and make a run at the gem of next year's free agent, Carmelo Anthony. Will this move make them a title contender next season? No. Will it allow them to be able to keep this thing competitive while we wait for the next Celtics run? Yes. Maybe they can go after David Lee, a guy who would be prefect marketing wise in Boston, and a guy who can (GASP!) rebound! Another guy who would be perfect for this team? Matt Barnes from Orlando. For once, the Celtics have some options, and I hope that instead of hanging on to tradition, they realize it's time to retool for the next run. I lived through Bird to Lewis, and I don't want to see it again.