Marriage can be a tough endeavor. Don’t get me wrong—at first, with the right pairing and chemistry, it can be an exciting and rewarding journey filled with joy and happiness.
They call this the “honeymoon period.”
Sadly, though, this is typically not a permanent thing. Just ask Kris Humphries.
The fact is, half of all marriages end in divorce. Paul Pierce and the Celtics have enjoyed a 15-year marriage, the majority of which has very much been a honeymoon period, which is incredibly unprecedented in this age of transience in sports.
But, eventually, this wonderful wedlock—which will result in yet another jersey hanging from the rafters in Boston—will be unlocked. Whether it ends in a “divorce,” i.e., a trade or release, or amicably, with The Truth finishing his career wearing kelly green, is left to be determined.
However, if the C’s plan on being relevant any time in the foreseeable future, it may have to end sooner rather than later.
And it’s not because his play has deteriorated, although his best days are certainly behind him. Most teams would love a clutch, stat-stuffing, proven winner who still averages close to 20 a game.
And it’s not because he’s no longer beloved in Beantown, as his name will forever be linked to other immortals who donned the clover, legends like Larry, Bill, John and Bob. Guys who can be referred to by their first name without any question as to whom is being referred.
Like Paul (no, not Westphal).
It’s because this franchise has grown accustomed to success, to being respected, to being relevant. And a fast-aging, 14-17 squad lacking size and hamstrung by more than a few questionable long-term contracts is not a recipe for long-term success, respect or relevance.
And because Pierce may be the only one with any significant trade value with any chance to bring back something of substance, it may behoove all parties involved.
Currently the Celtics are maxed out, $14 million over the cap and owing a couple million more in luxury tax with no contracts of significance coming off the books after this season. Unless the fountain of youth is discovered trickling from the harbor, the forecast for next year will only look bleaker.
But how do you make a divorce work after so many years of a happy marriage?
Good question (thanks, me!).
The best-case scenario may be to trade him to a contender and give him one more shot at a title—perhaps the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies or even the Golden State Warriors? This may be a tough pill for Boston fans to swallow, but is it any tougher than watching unprecedented mediocrity?
The worst-case scenario may be to let him stay, pick up his player option and let him linger in purgatory for a few more years, leaving the championship memories even further back in the rear view mirror, resigned to be just a faded recollection of how good things used to be. Like Antoine Walker.
Addition by subtraction isn’t supposed to occur with people like Pierce. He’s supposed to ride off into the sunset, guns blazing, along with that hand gesture thingy he does. He deserves that much—without splitting the possessions, or the custody battles, or the legal fees, or figuring out who gets to still hang out with which friends.
But either way, the 15-year honeymoon may be coming to an end, minus the happily ever after.
Marriages can be quite tough. Just don’t tell the wife I said so.