While it's no surprise to anyone that the Celtics' championship window is closing and closing fast, making a drastic change may not be in the best interest of the Celtics next year.
While there is no doubt that, since Jeff Green was handed a qualifying offer, the Celtics view him as one of the cornerstones of the future in Boston, that doesn't mean the future has to start tomorrow.
Would having one more year of the "Big Three" be the best thing for next year's chances, or would Jeff Green seeing an increased role and Paul Pierce coming off the bench as a sixth man make the Celtics more dangerous?
Celtics fans may have a hard time dealing with Pierce coming off the bench, as he has been the heart of the team, but if the Celtics don't make moves toward the future now, they might be left too far behind in a loaded Eastern Conference.
Each slide will present a case for who should be the starting small forward next season.
Paul Pierce is certainly on the downward slope of his career. Nearly 34, Pierce has played in nearly 1,100 games over the course of 13 seasons, and he has played in 385 over the last four. Pierce is likely tired.
His stats are declining if you look at them as total season stats, but if you look at per-36 minute numbers, Pierce is actually still as productive as when the Big Three were first assembled. He is averaging 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per 36 minutes. These numbers are nearly identical to the numbers he had in 2007-08.
Green, on the other hand, has not been able to match the efficiency he displayed in his second season in the NBA. While it's understandable that adjusting to a new role in a new city could be tough, you should expect more from a guy who you want to replace a legend in Boston.
Green looked timid on the court. With the Celtics being a veteran team, being the new guy was probably intimidating. But who is to say that Green will be any more forceful with an extra year?
While Pierce is a leader, Green is a follower. Green often looked lost on the floor. Pierce is confident in his actions, right or wrong, because he has the experience and is comfortable forgetting his mistakes.
Pierce is already comfortable in his role, and while he may need to see less playing time, Pierce is freshest at the beginning of games, and coming off the bench doesn't allow for him to warm up as quickly. Pierce would likely struggle coming off the bench and finding a rhythm. While he could do it, it probably wouldn't be all that effective.
Let youth be served.
Before coming to the Celtics, Green had formed a nice role as the third option in Oklahoma City. As a starter, he had solid but not spectacular numbers and found his time to get points when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook weren't putting up huge numbers.
When Green joined the Celtics, he saw a significant decrease in playing time, as Pierce was already firmly entrenched in the small forward spot. Everyone saw Green's poor performance as a reflection of his inability to find his role and fit in.
While Green may have struggled to fit in, his productivity was about the same. Looking at Green's stats per 36 minutes, his points, rebounds and assist numbers were nearly identical to those from his earlier in the year with the Thunder. The only major change was with fouls, and that was because the Celtics were much more aggressive than the Thunder on defense.
While Pierce may be most comfortable with Garnett, Rondo and Allen, Green needs to become comfortable with Rondo. With Allen and Garnett only signed through the end of this season, the Big Three may no longer exist, and then the Celtics might be left standing with no real feeling as to how their team is going to fit together.
If Green gets more minutes and gets to start, Rondo and Green can form some chemistry to lead the Celtics into the next part of their illustrious history.
The Celtics may not go wrong with either solution. Green needs to get comfortable in Boston, and Pierce is already comfortable.
Next season might be the last real shot the Celtics have at a title for some time. Pierce knows how to get the Celtics through the grind that is the NBA season. The NBA is currently in a lockout, and most talk would lead you to believe that the season is definitely going to be at least shortened.
Pierce and the Celtics would benefit most from this. As an aging group, only playing half the games would make the Celtics far less tired come playoff time.
While Green does need to see more time on the floor to really make an impact, there is no reason for Pierce to come off the bench as the captain of the Celtics.