The Celtics have milked their veteran stars for all they're worth, and it's time to let go.
Blow 'em up—the whole team if that's what it takes.
Having a veteran roster works when you're winning, not when you're losing. And the longer the Celtics wait, the tougher it will be to bring in youth, value or established talent as replacements.
The Celtics made a mistake by re-signing Kevin Garnett to a three-year, $34 million deal. Not because he's washed up—he's averaging a respectable 14.6 points and seven boards a game. But paying to remain relevant just isn't worth it. Garnett on the floor doesn't make this team a serious contender.
Other than Rajon Rondo, who needs scorers around him considering his inability to generate high-volume offense on his own, the Celtics core is all 35 years old and older. Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Garnett just aren't cut out to represent the nucleus of a contending NBA franchise.
When Danny Ainge brought in Garnett and Ray Allen, he knew the window for success was tiny. By winning a championship and seriously contending for multiple years, Ainge achieved what he was striving for when he put this roster together.
But every story has an end, and now the window has closed. It happens to everyone. A few years ago I bought the freshest button-down shirt you've ever seen, and it did wonders for me. The ladies dug it. But now it's old, permanently wrinkled and kind of smells like a foot. I had to buy a new one and change up the wardrobe.
Sometimes a great thing just runs its course. The Celtics need to just suck it up, go through a rebuilding phase and begin the next chapter in their storied book.
This isn't to take anything away from Paul Pierce. There isn't a player I hate more but respect at the same time. But even Robert De Niro has started to play supporting roles as his career winds down.
At this point, the big question is how they rebuild. Garnett and Pierce, along with Jeff Green and Brandon Bass, just won't generate much interest in the trade market. Their strongest asset is Rajon Rondo, who happens to be one of the premier floor generals in all of pro basketball.
Should the Celtics go into rebuilding mode?
This is a pickle I'm glad I'm not involved in. Do you trade your best player in order to restructure the franchise and move in a different direction? Or do you keep him, wait for guys like Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley to come around and hope to rebuild through the draft?
Either way, this isn't a short-term process. If you asked me, "Is it time to blow up the Celtics?" in 2011, I would have told you yes. Ainge went with a win-now strategy, which usually results in a lose-later scenario.
It's called sacrifice. You won't find many teams in a salary cap environment that can sustain contender status through decades of basketball.
Nobody wants to be the team who finishes ninth in the east, or loses in the first round year after year. Of course Boston doesn't want to be at the bottom of the barrel, but sometimes it's necessary in order to get to the top. Before finishing 66-16 in 2008, the Celtics were 24-58 in 2007.
A little patience, sacrifice and creativity is necessary for all businesses, not just in sports. It's time for the Celtics to recognize the situation and act accordingly.