The "predicament" of the Boston Celtics perfectly illustrates how silly roster building can be in the NBA.
From a success standpoint, the team has now twice overachieved in the past 12 months, and it is this play that may convince the team to stay the course—something that will likely lead to years of mediocrity.
It all started when Boston finished last season just one win away from the NBA Finals. The team struggled to beat even the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers in the first two rounds, but some throwback performances—and a lot of veteran savvy—helped Boston take the Miami Heat to the brink of elimination.
Even before any of this had occurred, team general manager Danny Ainge had publicly said, as reported by ESPN Boston, that he didn't want to see the Kevin Garnett era end the way the Larry Bird era had, with a GM declining to trade away the team's fading stars and instead riding with them until the wheels fell off.
But after such an uplifting playoff run, what was Ainge to do?
He kept the roster largely intact, even adding some pricey complementary pieces (Jason Terry, Courtney Lee) to help fortify another run.
But as the team struggled this season, it seemed like he should have pulled the trigger when he had the chance. Paul Pierce and a re-signed Kevin Garnett didn't look like players capable of taking Boston to any new heights. Instead, they were beginning to resemble financial millstones around the franchise's neck.
Then, after Rajon Rondo was lost for the year with a knee injury, the team started to look as good as it had since last June. It won 13 of its next 17 games, looking vastly improved from its sub-.500 play early in the year.
We have yet to see if this spark will translate to the postseason, but if if does and the Celtics crawl their way back to the Eastern Conference Finals, it could lead Ainge to give it one more go with this cast.
In a way, this highlights all that is great with the league: Fans in Boston have lived and died with this Garnett-, Pierce- and Rondo-led team since 2008, and diehards will get some enjoyment out of watching the old guard give it their best shot next season.
But in a practical sense, not dealing (at least) Pierce this summer could set the franchise back by years. After Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish fizzled out, for example, Boston missed the playoffs in six out of seven seasons. It wouldn't be shocking to see a similar stretch of futility if Ainge isn't able to restock the cupboard before it runs bare.
So, depending upon your perspective, another good playoff run could be the best or worst thing to happen to the Celtics this year.