Will Pierce and KG be back in 2013-14?
Franchise-defining offseason is right.
The Boston Celtics will enter the summer of 2013 with more questions than probably any other team in the league.
You can only imagine what it must be like to be in Danny Ainge's shoes right now. He has to make the right moves for the most historic organization in professional basketball, and none of those moves are going to be easy decisions to make.
Will Ainge "bring the band back together" for one more run?
Will he decide to scrap everything and go for an all-out rebuild?
It remains to be seen, and at this point, all we can do is form our own opinions and theories.
In my personal opinion, this will be the first domino to fall. Kevin Garnett's decision on whether he is going to return probably hinges on what the Celtics decide to do with Paul Pierce, so there is a good chance you won't see any movement in Boston until the Pierce situation is resolved.
The solution will most likely come around draft day, as Pierce's $15 million salary for 2013-14 becomes guaranteed on July 1. If the C's waive him prior to then, they would only be on the hook for $5 million of that salary. They could also trade him to a team looking to clear some money before the draft, as the receiving ballclub could then dump Pierce before that guarantee kicks in.
The thing with Pierce is, in order for the Celtics to move him, Ainge has to find a deal that makes sense. It just seems hard to believe that Boston will simply waive the man who has been the face of the franchise for 15 years, so you would think that if the C's were to rid themselves of The Truth, it would be through a trade.
So, is there a potential trade out there that would really give the Celtics good value for Pierce? If another organization just wants to acquire Pierce and then waive him to clear salary, Boston isn't going to get anything worthwhile in return. On the other side of the coin, if another squad really wants Pierce, is it really going to surrender all that much for a 35-year-old making $15 million next season? Moreover, would it even want Pierce at that price?
While Ainge has been very cryptic about what he is going to do with Pierce, it seems like there is a solid amount of evidence that supports him returning next year.
As I stated in the previous slide, Garnett's decision will almost definitely coincide with the result of the Pierce situation. After all, KG has already stated that Pierce plays a big part in him staying with Boston.
Should the Celtics move Pierce, I think Garnett will retire. It's hard to imagine him jumping to another team at this point of his career. He is so loyal to the C's that he would likely call it quits if he sees the franchise moving in a different direction.
However, if Boston does bring back Pierce, you have to guess that KG will come back for another year.
Due to Garnett's competitive nature, he must be thinking that the Celtics were really short-changed when it came to injuries this past season and that the "real" Boston Celtics were not the team we saw in the playoffs. With Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger returning for 2013-14, KG may say to himself, "Let me give it one more go."
So, if Pierce is back, expect Garnett to be wearing the Celtic green, as well.
If Ainge does end up bringing back Pierce and Garnett for another run, he must make some moves elsewhere to improve the ballclub and take some of the onus off the two veterans.
Brandon Bass had an outstanding 2013 postseason, demonstrating fantastic on-ball defense against Carmelo Anthony. Make that two playoffs in a row where he stepped up his game for the Celtics. As a result, Bass has greatly increased his trade value, and now, the final two years and $13 million remaining on his contract does not look bad at all.
Bass is not Boston's only trade chip, but he is certainly one of the better ones. Perhaps the C's can put together a package that includes Bass for a nice big man (Marcin Gortat comes to mind).
Ainge has to do something, and if he decides to let this era continue for another season, then he must go out and fill some holes on the roster. Coming back with Pierce and Garnett would be rather pointless if other maneuvers aren't made to beef up the supporting cast. Those two cannot afford to be playing 30 minutes a game throughout the regular season anymore.
With that in mind, logic tells you that Bass would certainly be one of the main players Ainge shops around.
If you watched Doc Rivers' press conference after the Celtics were defeated in Game 6 of their first-round series against the New York Knicks, he was very non-committal when asked whether he would return for the 2013-14 campaign.
Of course, this isn't the first time Rivers' future was rather cloudy, as it almost seems like he takes it year by year. Still, this seemed a bit different than other seasons.
I truly think that Doc is getting tired and that next year could be his last. At least for a while, anyway.
Assuming that Pierce and Garnett do take the floor as Celtics, it's difficult to envision Rivers not coming back next fall. If those two are in the fold, he will be, as well.
However, Doc certainly knows that this era is almost definitely not going to last beyond 2014, and the question is, does he want to take part in a rebuild?
Rivers has been through plenty of campaigns as a head coach, so the game of basketball has to be taking its toll on him. You can only do something that stressful for so long before you finally say you've had enough.
That's why the 2013-14 season could very well be Doc's last in Boston, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he announces it as sort of a rallying cry for his team.