It's time to blow the thing up. No more waiting around or making excuses about injuries and slow starts—the Boston Celtics in their last two games have shown they can no longer compete.
All five starters for the Celtics should be considered available for trade. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Jermaine O'Neal can all go. This might seem like a knee-jerk reaction, but there is a real possibility that the Celtics might not even make it to the playoffs this year.
And that isn't good enough for such a glorious and storied franchise.
The one-point overtime loss on Thursday night at home to the LA Lakers may have made exciting viewing, but it showed once again the frailties of this aging Celtics team.
The C's could not compete against the Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who dominated in the paint with 16 points and 17 rebounds. The once-perceived weakling Pau Gasol helped himself to 25 points, 14 rebounds and the all-important, game-winning block.
The 86-74 loss on Friday to the Toronto Raptors was another terrible performance in a season already packed with too many bad showings. The Celtics' old legs can't stand up to the punishment of back-to-back games.
According to Gary Dzen of the Boston Globe, the Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn't happy about how the C's performed either: "I thought our execution the whole game was terrible. I thought this was an awful game, except for they won. If we had won it, it would’ve been an awful game that we had won."
The Big Three era has been wonderful—not just for Boston but the whole NBA—but now it's time to say goodbye and move on. The Celtics need to make trades to reignite their stuttering season before the whole thing grinds to a shuddering halt.
LA Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak got the blogosphere all excited this week with an interview given at NBA.com.
When asked about possible trades, Kupchak said, "Well, if there were a way for us to get a 25-year-old, All-Star, ball-handling guard we'd love to do it … but that's not likely in February. So you look at other alternatives, and see if it's better than what you have. That's all."
People started to jump to conclusions as Rajon Rondo is a 25-year-old ball-handling guard.
The rumor mill may have got it wrong, and Kupchak might have been talking about Chris Paul, with Kupchak getting CP3's age wrong by a year. The Lakers have tried and failed to land the All-Star Paul before. And the purple and gold team certainly do need a point guard.
If Kupchak did get the age correct and Rondo is the target, then the Lakers could offer Pau Gasol. Hoopsworld seems to believe that a trade between the two archrivals involving the Lakers forward and the Celtics point guard is possible.
The Celtics badly need a forward, and Gasol has been one of the best around. In his five seasons for the Lakers, Gasol has won two rings and passed the magical 10,000 points scored mark. His average this season has been 16.7 PPG and 10.2 rebounds.
At the start of the season the idea of trading Rondo for a 30-year-old forward would have seemed ridiculous, but right now it would make good sense for both teams.
Trading the Big Three and keeping Rondo once seemed like the best option for building a new Boston team. Surrounding Rondo with fresh young talent and letting him call the plays would have offered the best chance to make the transition from a team filled with veteran players to a roster largely consisting of new players.
Now it appears that running a team maybe beyond Rondo.
While Rondo has never been the greatest scorer, his quick breaking and fast ball distribution has made him one of the outstanding point guards in the NBA. Leading a team, inspiring them to win and taking over a game does not seem like something Rondo can do. In the last two defeats Rondo has not been able to drive the Celtics to victory.
The NBC Sports article "Bynum for Rondo? Which team says no?" suggestions that a trade between the Celtics and Lakers is possible, if not entirely likely.
Andrew Bynum is averaging 17.1 PPG and 12.6 rebounds this season and has totally dominated teams night after night. The Lakers have struggled this season, but Bynum has been outstanding. His knees have been a problem in the past, and injuries are always a concern.
But the Celtics need a big body, and Bynum for Rondo would be an excellent trade.
Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Harford, Kirk Hinrich and even Tracy McGrady would all be good targets for possible trades.
The Atlanta Hawks have been playing tough all season long and look to intimidate teams the way the Celtics used to do. The Hawks have been inconsistent lately but they continue to win games without Al Harford and can compete in the Southeast Division against the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, two teams filled with big-name talent.
When the Hawks play the Celtics later this season, the Hawks are expected to win.
The Atlanta Hawks have a number of players on high-dollar contracts, so they might want to clear some salary cap space. The Hawks could also do with heading off a second-half season slump and may want to add a couple of players who know how to win in the playoffs.
The Celtics are loaded with players who have winning qualities.
A multi-player swap could be beneficial for both teams, and the trade could result in a meeting to decide the winner of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bulls have been winning games despite missing Rose due to a bad back. The Central Division team is loaded with talent: Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton and old Celtics favorite Brian Scalabrine, amongst others.
The Chicago Bulls lead the Eastern Conference and look good for the No. 1 overall spot.
Home advantage and having the 2011 MVP should be enough for Bulls fans, but that hasn't stopped them from thinking about trading with the Celtics. Doug Thonus asks at Chicago Bulls Confidential if the Bulls and Celtics should trade. Thonus wonders if Boozer for Garnett or Pierce for Deng would be good trades.
While it's possible to see either of these trades working this season for the Bulls championship ambitions and helping them to clear some cap space, it would be a better long-term deal for the Celtics.
Thibodeau knows the Celtics players well and may be tempted to utilize their defensive qualities and big-game experience. The Celtics need a forward. Maybe a Deng-for-Garnett swap would be a smart move for all concerned.
A trade involving Thibodeau for Doc Rivers would be even better swap for the Celtics.
Jeremy Lin is the man of the week and the populist choice amongst NBA fans at the moment.
The New York Knicks have won three games in a week, and Lin has been instrumental in all three. Lin scored 38 points against the LA Lakers on Friday night and outplayed Kobe Bryant in the Knicks' 92-85 win. The Celtics couldn't beat the Lakers; the Celtics need Lin.
The way Lin has caught the media's attention and gotten Knicks fans on their feet has been the feel-good story of the season so far.
The Celtics haven't had much to cheer about so far: injuries, defeats, low scores and players who can no longer jump. Apart from Paul Pierce having a good run of form, this year has been built around nothing more than wildly optimistic hope.
If Celtics fans think it will all straighten itself out in the playoffs and the players are saving themselves until then, they are mistaken. This Celtics team is done.
They need something now to fire them up and Lin could do that. Not that the Knicks would want to trade Lin right now—but in a couple of weeks a swap for Rondo might make sense for both clubs. Rondo could get the ball out fast to Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, while the Celtics would have a point guard who could score big.
The Celtics need something to get them firing on offense, and they need someone to breathe new life into their tired-looking play.
A major trade for a top player would bring that spark. The Celtics need to act fast before the season is lost and the Big Three era finishes in disappointment and defeat.