Danny Ainge played basketball with the Original Big Three, and he constructed the reincarnation of that Holy Trinity two generations later, bringing together Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to successfully win the 2009 NBA Championship. And now, with Rajon Rondo lost for the foreseeable future, and with Ray Allen plying his trade in Miami, the aging nucleus of Pierce and Garnett are left to make another run at a championship.
And, with all due respect to The Truth and the Big Ticket, that simply ain’t gonna happen.
The sad thing? Ainge, who saw firsthand what happened to the Celtics with an aging Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, has painted himself into the same corner with Pierce and Garnett.
And I thought Ainge was supposed to be one of the most brilliant basketball minds in the game.
I know, it’s easy to sit here and criticize. There was no way of knowing that Allen would jump ship, or that Rondo would go down, or that players like Brandon Bass and Jason Terry would under-perform. It was safe to assume that Jeff Green would take time to round into shape, and that his confidence could easily be shaken due to heart surgery. I get that. Green needs time. And Bass and Terry were proven commodities.
It all looked so damned good on paper.
Problem is, this team turned out to be a mess. And despite all of the upgrades, it’s nowhere near the team that game within a game of the NBA Finals.
That team, of course, was fool’s gold.
This team? It’s starting to look like a team built foolishly by a GM who felt he could straddle the fence – you know, simultaneously rebuild the Celtics while remaining competitive and in the hunt for Banner 18.
Problem is, it turns out you can’t have it both ways.
And now, sadly, Ainge may have neither.
Clearly, this team can’t compete for a title. And it won’t be able to do so within the ever-shrinking windows that belong to Pierce and Garnett.
And this team has also backed itself into a corner, likely unable to unload players and commence the rebuilding process in earnest.
So, history repeats. And we know what happened last time – it took 22 long, cold, title-less years to reach the NBA summit once again, the longest championship drought in team history.
Ainge should have known better. He should have learned from the Mistakes of Celtics GMs Past.
But he didn’t, and here we are, looking at a very bleak future indeed.
My suggestion? This viewpoint will be controversial, but Ainge and the Celtics should look very seriously at trading Paul Pierce now, while there’s still time. Memphis is on the cusp of an NBA title, why not ship him there for Rudy Gay? Okay, I’m not a salary cap guru, so maybe the numbers don’t make sense. And maybe the Grizzlies don’t want to part with Gay. And it’s next to impossible to trade two players straight up. But you get the idea. Ainge needs to think outside the box, make some deals, get this rebuilding project on the fast track.
Bass would be next on my list. He’s squeezed by Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green, two young, promising players the Celtics should try to build around. So, send Bass packing. And Jason Terry, while you’re at it. Do some deals, surrender this season and start prepping for the inevitable.
Do it, Danny.
While there’s still time.
Prove to us that you can learn from the past.