Doc Rivers – gone. Released from the final three years of his contract in exchange for a 2015 first round draft choice. The move ends a roller coaster ride for Rivers, Danny Ainge, the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Clippers and fans of both teams the world over. The move also signals the beginning of a rebuilding process for Ainge and the Celtics, as the team’s championship window is officially closed, and a new chapter can now begin in earnest. And with the inevitable rebuilding to come, the next question is very, very simple:
Now what happens with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?
We shouldn’t have to wait very long to find out. Garnett will likely join Doc in Los Angeles, assuming a trade can be worked out that doesn’t cause David Stern and the league office to squash it and slap both teams with fines. And Pierce? Ainge has been shopping The Truth with no luck, hoping to pluck a first round pick from a team desperate to add veteran leadership. Problem is, who wants to give up a first round pick for a player as old as Pierce, who continues to look like he should retire and begin a new chapter of his own?
So, if Pierce can’t be dealt, Ainge either has to buy out his contract by July 1, or pick up the $15 million on that final year and hope he can deal Pierce by mid-season. Teams tend to overpay at the deadline, especially teams in the hunt for a deep playoff run. And the way it looks now, that is the most likely scenario to play out. We should expect to see Pierce on the opening night roster, at which point Ainge will need to weigh the need to trade him at the deadline or let him finish his career where he started it.
Back to the rebuilding for a moment. Based on the trade scrutiny both Boston and LA received last week, trading KG for DeAndre Jordan is no sure thing. One can only hope that it does come to pass, because Garnett wants to finish his career contending for a championship, and it’s not going to happen with the Celtics. Acquiring a young, athletic center like Jordan would help the rebuilding effort immensely, as Ainge knows that quality bigs are very hard to come by.
So the next several weeks should be interesting indeed. The paradigm shift in Boston means that the retooling can move full speed ahead, the speed of which ultimately hinges on how soon Ainge can find landing spots for the remaining to pieces of the Big Three.