NBA Trade Rumors: Celtics Must Hang On to Kevin Garnett 'Til Season's End

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 25:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics reacts on the bench in the final seconds of their 123-111 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the second overtime at Philips Arena on January 25, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics could be seeking to blow up their core in what is becoming a lost season, but GM Danny Ainge must stay the course and hope for the best. Sporting News reported over the weekend that the Los Angeles Clippers had their eye on veteran big man Kevin Garnett, but Boston simply must keep him aboard until the end of the season, at least.

In the rumored deal, the Clippers would receive Garnett in exchange for small forward Caron Butler and guard Eric Bledsoe. This would certainly help Boston's needs at the point, what with Rajon Rondo out for the season with a torn ACL, but this trade simply cannot happen this season.

Look at it this way. Garnett may be 36 years old and on the decline, but he is still the Celtics' best defensive player. On the season, he is averaging 14.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in just over 30 minutes per game.

Take him out of the equation, and Boston's defense basically collapses. Brandon Bass and Jason Collins then provide the team with all of its size, not to mention non-factor Chris Wilcox, and the Celtics cannot afford to lose such a strong presence when they already rank second to last in rebounding.

More importantly, why would Ainge even consider a deal for Garnett? The Celtics have won four games in a row without Rondo running the point, and they still own the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference with a three-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers. Long story short, this is still a team that came within one game of the NBA Finals last season and could still make some noise in the playoffs this year.

The fact is that if Danny Ainge is to entertain the idea of trading Kevin Garnett, or any of the Celtics, for that matter, he absolutely must wait to make a final decision until the end of the regular season. Many people quickly forget that Garnett's contract contains an ironclad no-trade clause, and he must approve any and all deals involving him.

That said, there is no way that Ainge will be able to pull off a deal including Garnett right now. The veteran big man is not going to go anywhere so long as Doc Rivers is coach in Boston, and let's not forget his close friendship with Paul Pierce.

Speaking of Pierce, Shaun Powell of Sports on Earth even reported that Garnett would not approve a trade unless Pierce was traded with him, which creates even more complications for a potential deal because of the money involved.

Ainge must thus take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to dealing Garnett, Pierce or anyone on the Celtics. He must see how the team finishes the season and how well they perform in the playoffs if they get that far.

At that point, he can reassess the team's future and decide what's going to happen. Only then does trading Garnett make sense, lest he want to blow up the roster now and risk losing his team's unquestioned leader.