After the 2007 season, the Boston Celtics brought Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett into Boston to join Paul Pierce. This move brought the once-great franchise back from the brink of irrelevancy and made them contenders once again.
But it did more than that—it brought Boston its first NBA Championship since 1986.
The Celtics are still contenders, but the Big Three aren't getting any younger. Their defeat at the hands of the new Big Three in Miami this season brought a realization to the Celtics that they can no longer keep up with the best of the NBA.
As a result, Celtics management has two options.
They can cling to the foundation they have in the Big Three and hope some miraculous shot of youth will bring them back to championship form, or they can look to the future and assemble a new Big Three that will make them championship-caliber not just now, but in the future as well.
It's very possible to do, especially if the lockout lasts for the entire upcoming season. Here's what the Celtics can do to get their next Big Three in Boston.
This year's Carmelo Anthony is going to be just as hard to lure in, but if the Celtics want to build a team that will be great in the present and in the future, they need to do it.
Dwight Howard, who entered the NBA in the 2004 NBA Draft, won't be ending his career anytime soon—and man, can he play. Last season Howard averaged a double-double with 22.9 PPG and 14.1 RPG.
If the lockout prevents a season, Boston will have plenty of time to pull Howard in before he even becomes a free agent.
David West is a free agent this year, but if the lockout lasts this entire season, he'll be one at the same time as Howard, making a perfect opportunity for the Celtics to bring them both in.
If the lockout ends before or during the season though, the Celtics will have to act fast.
Boston will have to get West to sign with them and either play behind KG for a year or move Garnett to center and have West start at PF. Then they just have to hope Orlando doesn't pull the trigger on a Howard trade and get him to join next summer.
Either way, I think it'll work out.
Clearly, no team can afford to have Howard, West, Rondo and the Big Three on one team.
So the three players who brought the Celtics their first championship in 22 years will have to go.
They would no doubt rather retire together as Celtics than go play a year or two with another team as their energy dies out. So Beantown will have to say goodbye to the original Big Three to say hello to the new one.
Now that the hardest part is done, the Celtics have to build a foundation around Howard, West and Rondo.
Jeff Green didn't do much for Boston off the bench since he arrived via the Perkins trade, but now that the starting shooting guard position is open, Green can get back to what he was used to doing in OKC—starting.
He continues the idea of looking to the future, while still having experience in the starting role. Green fits the bill perfectly for the C's.
This plan is all about Boston getting younger, but the Celtics can't be successful in the present if they don't have a little veteran experience under their belt.
Troy Murphy fits the bill. He has a track record of 10 NBA seasons with the Warriors, Pacers, Nets and Celtics. Murphy's stats fell hard last season with the Nets and Celtics, but it was just a fluke. He'll rebound and start scoring the 14.6 PPG he did during the 2009-2010 season with the Pacers.
The Celtics grabbed young journeyman Von Wafer in free agency last year to replace Tony Allen off the bench, and he did a pretty good job. Still, he wasn't nearly as good as he was the year before in Houston.
I say, take a chance on him; sign him to another one-year deal and hope he delivers.
If he does, sign him long term, and eventually he can move into the starting role (when Troy Murphy retires and Jeff Green moves to small forward).
If not, find a replacement and move on.
Glen Davis is a streaky player and thus a risky one to take a chance on.
He's played for the Celtics his entire career so far, coming off the bench for Garnett. Davis was key to the Celtics' run to the Finals in the 2009-2010 season, and I think he can be key again off the bench.
Krstic came over along with Jeff Green in the Perkins trade. Once he got to Boston, he improved from the numbers he was posting last season in OKC.
Krstic would be a great fit to come off the bench for Howard.
The Celtics need a point guard to come off the bench for Rondo, and Aaron Brooks is a perfect fit.
He is very young and still progressing, but learning from Steve Nash for part of last year will help, and learning from Rondo will help even more.
Father Time has taken a toll on the once-great Jermaine O'Neal. It's time for him to retire.
Delonte West isn't worth the money he's paid, on or off the court.
Carlos Arroyo just doesn't put up good numbers in any category.
And the Celtics can get the same numbers from youngsters E'Twaun Moore and Avery Bradley that they got from Sasha Pavlovic.
PG Rajon Rondo
SG Jeff Green
SF Troy Murphy
PF David West
C Dwight Howard
PG Aaron Brooks
SG Avery Bradley
SG Von Wafer
SF E'Twaun Moore
PF Glen Davis
PF JaJuan Johnson
C Nenad Krstic