It may be approaching closing time but the bar is still open and there is time for one more round. So the Boston Celtics lost in the first round to the New York Knicks Friday night. Paul Pierce looked out of gas; Kevin Garnett was playing though injury and Ray Allen is in the rear view mirror playing for the Miami Heat.
Now is not the time to panic or make hasty decisions. It’s the time to be realistic. Look, I am no fan of Boston. While I respect what the latest version of the Celtics has accomplished, I can make the argument that resting on the laurels of being one of sports most storied franchises, it has been overrated. But they are winners. From Celtic team President Danny Ainge, coach Doc Rivers, and the players, they are loyal to each other. And there is a mutual affinity between the team and its fans.
As someone over forty, I can say we don’t see that as much anymore in sports and it’s worth strongly considering keeping together. Beyond sentiment here are reasons why the Celtics should keep the Garden a place where everybody knows the names:
The days of logging 40 plus all-star minutes a game are gone but it’s premature to write the eulogies for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Stars like John Stockton, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd were/are able to perform at high levels because their minutes were strictly monitored as they aged. Injuries and lack of depth forced the Celtics to abandon this strategy in the playoffs and push their aging stars too much. This made Pierce look worse than he is. Health and augmentation is required. Not disassembling.
If the Miami Heat are healthy they will likely be the favorite to win it all next season no matter what you do. But Dwyane Wade is starting to break down, and if things fall into place, the C’s can be right there.
Pierce is under contract for one more season. Unless someone offers you a crazy no-brianer trade for him, why not play it out? Get Rondo healthy, get Jared Sullinger healthy, pick up a free agent piece and be relevant.
Speaking of Pierce, he may not be Larry Bird or Bill Russell but he is a Celtic legend. Do you want to jettison him a year too soon and see him play in another team’s colors? (Okay so I snuck in a reason based on sentiment)
Rebuilding is always a risky proposition with no guarantees. So unless Danny Ainge has scouted a high school senior who he projects will come out of college after his freshman year for the 2015 draft, and can guarantee the Celtics will be in the right draft position to get him, what is the rush to suck next year?
Because that’s the argument isn’t it? Rebuilding is painful but the sooner you start the sooner you get through it. Not necessarily. Great prospects don’t equate to a turnaround. I’m sure Portland felt they were on the right path when they drafted Greg Oden and Sam Bowie. Washington when they drafted Kwame Brown. Detroit when they drafted Darko Milicic. And these were high picks.
The Indianapolis Colts said goodbye to Peyton Manning but it took four neck surgeries and the guarantee of replacing him with stud rookie Andrew Luck. The Celtics don’t have anywhere close to that type of certainty in replacing Pierce or KG. Maybe the next Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan is in the 2015 draft class; maybe he is in the 2016, 2017 or 2027!
The fact is, at this point there are more unknowns with rebuilding then there is with one more run. Why rush to start over and end this chapter of Celtic history when there could be one more story to tell? A story that your fans and the media love and respect. Sure Ainge should be on the lookout for deals and possibilities but don’t break it up just to break it up.
It may be time for last call but upon further review it might not be time to break up the band and send everyone home just yet. Samuel Adams anyone?