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Changing of the Celtics Guard...
Category: NBA
Tags: NBA BostonCeltics

Repost from my original entry over on TSBN:

 

Remember this?

It was just 6 years ago that "Ubuntu" entered the vocabulary of Celtics fans everywhere as the newly acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen teamed with Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce (and the before he got too big for his britches Rajon Rondo) to win Banner 17 as the Boston Celtics recaptured their place atop the NBA hierarchy.

Flash forward six years later and the man who performed the masterstroke of bringing THAT team together as just finished off the deconstruction of the Boston Celtics as he looks to rebuild a new team to compete for another title. Danny Ainge has always stated that he didn't plan to let the Celtics get old again as they did when the team held onto Larry Bird and Kevin McHale as they declined in their games.

The GM Ainge is apparently a man of his word after the events of yesterday. Between the NBA draft and trades, he is set on a course that will likely see the Celtics be absolutely awful for the next couple of years. If things pan out the way he hopes, afterwards the team will start rounding into form and be a contender.

It hasn't been the best of weeks in Boston sports. The Bruins lost the Stanley Cup, Aaron Hernandez is likely a murderer (perhaps even three times over) and then there is what the Celtics have done.

First and foremost, there was the trade of coach Doc Rivers to the L.A. Clippers. In return the Celtics got LA's 2015 first round pick. A lot of people are upset with Rivers leaving. So am I, because I really liked the guy. But I can see his side of things. He's already been through one rebuilding phase with the Celtics. Remember that 18 game losing streak the year before KG and Ray came to town? Yep, Doc was the man in charge. Back then people wanted to run him out of town. I asked those that complained about him what they wanted? The Celtics didn't have good players. I said that if you gave Rivers legitimate NBA talent, you'd see what he could do. Look what happened. He's now considered one of the best coaches in the NBA, beloved by at least the vast majority of his players and has even seen his name mentioned as one of the possible replacements of Coach K as the Olympic coach (before Coach K announced he'd be returning for a third go-round).

Of course, Ray Allen left last year. Since he was a free agent, I didn't feel a hatred towards him after he left. He was free to do what he wanted. I would've liked to see him come back, but knowing he was unhappy with his role on the team and the fact he and Rondo pretty much hated each other (a recurring theme it seems because there were reports on SI.com that Rondo and Doc Rivers almost got into a fight this season when Rondo swore at the coach during a meeting). I wasn't thrilled that he chose to go to Miami but after garnering a second ring this season, it is hard to fault his choice.

And yesterday Ainge got the Brooklyn Nets to agree in principle to a trade (nothing can be finalized until July 1st when free agency officially starts) that sees the departure of Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Garnett leaving is not a shock. There was talk that he was going to retire and I can't imagine he would've wanted to go through another constant stream of losing. Wasn't that what made him want out of Minnesota so bad? I have no doubt if he stayed with the team, he'd do the job required of him on the court and also be the man to show the younger guys how to act, etc. But I don't think he would've been especially pleased and when the Nets fully guaranteed the last year of his two year deal, he waived his no trade clause to head to Brooklyn.

As a throw in (I would guess as a means to make all the numbers work), Jason Terry is headed to Brooklyn as well. I'm not all that upset he's gone. He was supposed to be a slightly lesser version of Ray Allen, but while he did have some moments throughout the season, he wasn't even close to an adequate replacement.

In my mind, the real key to this deal is the departure of the man who, until July 1st, is the reigning "Mr. Celtic". Paul Pierce, having grown up as a Lakers fan, embodied the Celtic Pride ideal. No matter how much sense the deal makes on a monetary and team needs level, his departure (fading skills or not) saddens me. 15 years in a Celtics uniform, it just isn't right that he'll retire with another team. Oh, I know there is always that "I'll sign a one day deal and retire as a Celtic" possibility, but that is just a dog and pony show. We'll always remember that he didn't finish here. And that is just something I really am bummed about.

So what did the Celtics get for blowing up The Big 3 Volume 2? Well, the Nets are sending a package of five players that don't seem likely to suddenly become world beaters when they start wearing the Celtic green. The quintet: Gerald Wallace (isn't he always hurt?) Reggie Evans isn't much in the way of an offensive sparkplug but does hustle on defense and the boards. Keith Bogans has averaged 6.4 PPG for his career. Kris Joseph is returning for a second stint with the Celtics and of course there is Kris Humphries who is known more for marrying celebidiot Kim Kardashian than being an outstanding basketball player.

Of course, they weren't the key to this trade happening. It was the three first round draft picks the Nets gave up to Boston that will be what Danny Ainge hopes to turn into gold. The Celtics got the first round picks from the Nets in 2014 (it's got a condition on it), 2016 and 2018 (unprotected picks). They also secured the right to flip picks with the Nets in 2017 if the Nets have a better draft position.

In the draft last night, the Celtics picked up ex-Gonzaga seven footer Kelly Olynyk in the first round and Colton Iverson in the second round. Olynyk should be able to provide offense, but already there are serious questions as to whether he will be able to handle the physical pounding he'll encounter in the post. Iverson is another 7 foot center who played at Minnesota and Colorado State, but in all honesty I can't remember having heard of him before.

The state of the Celtics is going to be highly questionable for some time no matter what happens with the new players and the bevy of draft picks in their back pocket.

You've only got one superstar type player on the roster now. And that is Rondo. He's coming off an ACL injury. If that wasn't bad enough, he's going to be looked on to become the leader of the team. From what I've seen of his leadership skills so far, he couldn't lead flies to a pile of dog crap.

The #2 man will probably be Jeff Green. He has the potential to be a big scorer but has always been too inconsistent. He'll have a career high scoring performance one night and the next time out he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat.

Avery Bradley will be the defensive playmaker but he isn't going to be called upon to be a big scorer.

As for returning post players, Jared Sullinger is coming back from back surgery so who knows how he is going to respond to getting pounded on once again. He had really started to show some stuff before he got hurt, so I would hope he'd be able to be at least serviceable as a big man. And then there is Fab Melo. He spent most of the season in the D-league and who knows if he is ready to be a full-time NBA player yet.

And let's not forget that they need to find someone who wants to coach the oncoming mess. They don't want to pay a lot of money to someone who is pretty much there to be a figurehead to Rondo and lose a lot of games. I wonder if I should apply? I've got 25 years coaching experience. And the money they'd pay me might not be the 7 million dollars a year that Doc Rivers was making but it will be a hell of a lot more than I make now. And honestly, could I really be any worse than M.L. Carr? Hey Danny, where should I send my resume?

Danny Ainge has pulled off this trick once before, so I'm willing to extend the benefit of the doubt as to him doing it again. But these next two seasons (at least) are going to be painful. They'll have two first round picks in what is expected to be a loaded 2014 draft so maybe the rebuilding process won't be quite as bad as it might seem right now. (Ignore those crossed fingers behind my back)

But I think if they want to avoid violating those pesky truth in advertising laws, the Celtics might want to hang a sign on all entrances to the arena that says "Welcome To Lottery Land".

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