The Boston Celtics are 21-23 and barely hanging on to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference closing in on the All-Star break. To make matters worse, Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, and the time to make some big changes has arrived.
No fan base wants to see its team start from scratch, but Danny Ainge and the Celtics need to start considering doing just that. With Rondo on the shelf for the rest of the year, there’s very little chance of making any kind of run in the playoffs—should the Celtics even make the postseason.
According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, Boston is becoming more open to moving Paul Pierce before the deadline, especially after losing Rondo:
Was told yesterday Boston was absolutely open to trading Paul Pierce for the right package in return. Hard to see that not happening now— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) January 27, 2013
While the prospect of blowing up such a talented roster is daunting, every team has faced the proposition of rebuilding before it expected to do so. The Celtics are aging, and Kevin Garnett and Pierce can’t continue to carry the team forever. Now is the right time to make some deals and build for the future.
Even at 35-years-old, Pierce has value to other teams in the league. He’s averaging 18.7 points, four assists and 5.9 rebounds per contest—numbers fairly consistent with what he has done his whole career. It’s hard to let go of a player with that kind of talent, but the NBA is an asset-driven league, and trading a player before his value dries up is generally expected of teams not built for a championship run.
Should the Celtics decide to overhaul the roster, Pierce will have to be the first domino to fall. Boston won’t trade away lesser assets with the core of the team in place.
According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, Boston also has another valuable asset in which other teams are showing interest:
Most appealing Celtic, according to multiple team execs: Jared Sullinger. Don't expect Boston to part with him— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) January 28, 2013
The Celtics may not be interested in moving Sullinger at the moment, but should they decide to deal Pierce, it’s hard to imagine any player being off-limits for other teams if the price is right.
Should the Celtics begin the rebuilding process this season by trading Pierce?
The dynamics of the NBA are frustrating for fans and executives, but it’s the nature of the business to be forced into rebuilding earlier than expected sometimes. Boston’s stars are aging, and with Rondo no longer on the court this season, the Celtics should not expect to make it very far.
The time has come for Boston to get younger. It’s a difficult realization for fans who have witnessed so much success from their team in recent years, but it has to happen. With one of Boston’s best players out of the picture and two more nearing the end of their careers, there won’t be a better time to rebuild than right now.