CELTICS DIVORCE BRUTAL, BUT NEEDED

boston_celtics_halloween“All good things must come to an end.” Niall Gray reflects on the close of an NBA era.

It’s a quote from Geoffrey Chaucer, the Father of English literature, but no doubt Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge has used those exact same words since the Celtics’ season ended.

Ever since a couple of blockbuster trades in 2007 brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to Boston, the resulting years can be likened to a ride on a rollercoaster; up and down throughout with a few twists and turns along the way. But just like a rollercoaster ride, eventually it comes to an end and you have to get off.

The draft-night decision to trade Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, finally signals this ride is over. Doc Rivers’ decision to leave and coach the Clippers may have hastened the trade, but the wheels were already coming off when Ray Allen decided he didn’t have the stomach for another go around last summer.

Perhaps he’d been sitting next to Rajon Rondo for too long.

And while it hurts to see the end of what was once known as the ‘Big Three’ era, it was still one hell of a ride.

How can you complain when a three-year plan turned into six? How can you be upset when the plan ended the long wait for the 17th championship and almost brought you another?

It’s sad knowing that as a Celtics fan, the next time you see KG and Pierce, they will be representing the Nets. It’s obvious that Danny Ainge would have loved to have seen those guys end their careers with the Celtics and it would have been the noble thing to do, but these guys deserve more than ending their playing days making quick exits in the first round of the play-offs.

Besides, Ainge’s job is to make the Celtics winners, and he wants to keep that job.

There’s no guarantee Pierce and Garnett will be successful in Brooklyn, but that’s the Nets’ problem now.

Ainge has always said he wanted to avoid the mistakes of the early 90s, when the C’s held on to their aging frontcourt. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale retired as Celtics, while Robert Parish saw out his contract and was let go. In each case, the Celtics got nothing back in return and when Reggie Lewis passed away in ’93, it signalled the start of a lost decade for Boston.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics

Garnett waived clause (NBAE/Getty)

While the trade value of Parish and McHale would have debatable, Bird would have been of significant value, despite his back issues, and a trade would have given Boston enough in return to start over.

So by trading Pierce and Garnett (and including Pierce was probably the reason KG waived his no-trade clause), Ainge has now put the wheels in motion. He got what he could for his two veterans and is starting over.

This day has been coming for a while; Ainge has been preparing us for it, but it still hurts.

It hurts because in the short term, the Celtics are going to suck. There’s nothing worse for a sports fan to know that four months before a season begins, it’s already over.

The only date you have look forward to next June is the draft, and even that has been unkind to the Celtics in years past. You also try to console yourself with the thought that at least you’ll save yourself a few quid by not getting League Pass next season!

While in Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger, the Celtics have a core to build around, these four can’t deliver success on their own and there’s no guarantee any of those four won’t be moved on.

In order for Ainge to not repeat the mistakes of the early 90s, he will come under pressure from the fans to deliver success to the Celtics as soon as possible.

Everything points to the Celtics taking a hit this year; wait for expiring contracts (i.e. Kris Humphries) to come off the books and not rush back Rondo from his ACL injury.

Wins are going to be few and far between and you’ll probably have to stomach a Miami three-peat before the rebuild can commence.

The clever money would suggest the way back begins in June 2014; either by drafting well or using some of the accumulated draft picks as trade bait.

But I leave you with one final thought. That may be the way you expect things to work and most pundits seem to think the same, but this is Danny Ainge we’re talking about.

Ainge has never been afraid to pull the trigger on a deal and while Celtics fans consider hibernating for the next twelve months, don’t be surprised if another blockbuster deal is done before then…

 

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