Why Danny Ainge Is Right About the Boston Celtics Looking Too Old

Zachary Stanley@@SFLeaguesCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2012

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 28: The Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge waves during the 2008 NBA World Championship ceremony before a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the TD Banknorth Garden on October 28, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge recently appeared on The Big Show on WEEI sports radio and had no problem voicing his opinion on how his veteran team has looked to start the season.

Ainge hasn't had much of an issue letting the public know what he thinks in seasons' past, but it isn't often that he speaks so bluntly about his team's flaws.

On whether his team has passed the average age for competitiveness, Ainge said, “Nine games into the season, yeah, that would be a fair assessment, but I’m hoping that guys are better than they’re playing and they have something left, but time will tell."

Ainge goes on to criticize the team's offensive rebounding, which has been worst in the league for three years now.

For diehard fans, the thought of an already-brief era ending for their beloved Celtics is difficult to stomach. Nevertheless, it increasingly seems that Ainge is absolutely right.

Did Kevin Garnett's knee injury in 2009 squash chances to put another banner up? Probably.

The Kendrick Perkins trade certainly took away any hope of a championship last season. It was impossible to think that the Celtics were going to slow down the Miami Heat in the middle without the big man—younger, aggressive big man, that is.

Instead, the man now calling his team old decided that the Celtics might be able to win a championship with one older O'Neal and one ancient one.

Jeff Green's heart problems certainly didn't help to build hope heading into this season, as sparks off the bench became increasingly absent.

Scrappers like Delonte West and Nate Robinson are now utilizing their same menacing tactics in other locations.

Remember when little Nate would pump up the garden with a nasty steal or a dagger three? When he would get Rondo some extra rest by providing the only kind of energy that earns a 5'9” player a spot on an NBA roster?

Stay up late, and you can reminisce by watching the Golden State Warriors on NBA League Pass. OK, maybe that's just what I do.

The Dallas Mavericks did not disclose the terms of the deal for signing West, but given last year's wrist problems and mental history, he had to come pretty cheap.

The Celtics “replaced” West with the services of Keyon Dooling, who has looked uncomfortable and out of sync for most of the early season, as if there was all that much to be expected.

It looked as though the Celtics had backed up their big men heading into the season, but newly-acquired Chris Wilcox was facing injury issues right out of the gate. A veteran with injury issues. Imagine that.

Ainge's comments came before the recent skid got even worse with losses to Chicago, Indiana and Oklahoma City.

It's been nice watching these games, feeling as though the Celtics are within striking distance, while at the same time, knowing they probably don't have what it takes to gut one out. They were down 19 in the Bulls game and cut it to one midway through the fourth quarter.

Is it really necessary to provide me with that false hope?

With Garnett working with three five-minute shifts per half, you can't expect much more than minutes in the low 30's, and playing Paul Pierce for anywhere near 40 usually leads to fatigue for a player his age.

While Ray Allen is still one of the most physically fit players in the league, there still isn't enough there to go up against young stars like Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. This is where a young and energetic bench becomes most important.

So where does one of the NBA's most storied organizations go from here?

The days of Pierce going toe to toe with LeBron James in the playoffs are long over, and Ainge has made it clear that he isn't afraid to make changes for the future of the organization, which was the primary excuse for the Perkins trade.

According to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, several contending teams have inquired about the availability of Paul Pierce.

With Pierce still having two years left on his contract, the Celtics have a significant opportunity to leverage a decent trade. With Garnett and Allen both in a contract year, the time for Ainge's decision window is closing.

Could the Celtics turn things around and have a decent playoff team? Sure. But contending for a championship is another story.

For Celtics fans, it is a heartbreaking fact. The new big three is now the too old big three.

If only stem-cell therapy could solve this problem.