Ira Winderman of NBC Sports believes the Boston Celtics shouldn't blow up the team, they should just trade 40% of the starters currently on the team. I'm not sure there is a difference. He wants to trade Garnett and Allen, but doesn't think this is blowing up the Celtics roster. I think trading away two of the four best players on the roster isn't too different from blowing up the team entirely. He believes the Celtics should not trade Pierce, yet because Garnett and Allen are free agents after this year, Pierce and his contract is probably the best one to trade if the Celtics really want to rebuild on the fly. What is weird is Winderman thinks the Celtics should use the Mavericks model in order to ensure success at rebuilding on the fly. It is weird because the Mavericks model was implemented this year and hasn't been shown to work effectively yet.
So I'm not sure the Celtics should model a non-rebuilding, non-blowing up of the team (while two trading important players) based on a unproven plan. Not to mention dangling Pierce in a trade doesn't mean you have to trade him. Personally, I think the Celtics shouldn't trade any of their best four players unless they get a trade offer they can't refuse.
In June, no sooner were the Heat defeated by the Mavericks in the NBA finals than the debate ensued about breaking up the Big Three.
This wasn't serious talk. It wasn't talk because the Big Three were getting old or were ineffective. The talk began because the issue was cap room for the Heat and the media needs to further controversial topics to fill columns and the airwaves. I don't recall these talks about breaking up Wade, James and Bosh as ever being serious.
Amid success in Dwyane Wade's absence in recent days, the volume has intensified on that one.
To the right of the column is an NBCSports podcast entitled "Are LeBron and the Heat better off without Wade?" Is Ira Winderman reporting on a story NBC Sports has helped create? To me, this discussion is the result of short-term, potentially non-sustainable success without Wade and a self-created media story. The media starts a discussion and then breathlessly reports on it. Basically, it is ESPN's entire reporting style.
In L.A., months after being blown out in the second round by the Mavericks, and little more than a season removed from consecutive titles, the Lakers first attempted to rip it apart in a bid for Chris Paul, then sold off Lamar Odom for pennies on the dollar to Dallas.
The Lakers sold Odom because he was unhappy and wanted a trade after finding out he was part of the failed Chris Paul trade discussions. I'm not sure this trade was of the Lakers choosing. Odom wanted out and the Lakers were looking to clear cap space in order to lure Dwight Howard to the Lakers. Notice who the Lakers traded Odom to. The Dallas Mavericks. So Winderman is essentially saying the Mavericks have a plan to take a step back to cut cap space for the future, while also being the beneficiary of a team cutting cap space for the future and taking on larger, non-expiring salaries.
And now the Celtics, a team that advanced to the 2010 NBA finals and might have made it back in 2011 with an ambulatory center, are threatening a core meltdown.
Uh ... um ... patience, anyone?And what follows is Winderman saying the Celtics should trade Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. I guess patience isn't the best move after all.
First, step back and consider whether we even would be debating the Celtics had Kendrick Perkins not been dealt to the Thunder last season (or at least had Jeff Green not been detected with a season-ending heart condition in the wake of the lockout).
Yes, we would. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen would still be a year older and Jeff Green really isn't anything more than a borderline starter or key guy coming off the bench. A healthy Jeff Green would help and I still don't like the Perkins trade, but Perkins/Green's presence on the roster would not change much. The core problem with the Celtics, at least in my mind, which is their age and lack of bench depth would still be present with Kendrick Perkins on the roster. I think many people have turned Perkins into a cure-all player who in reality was important to the Celtics current roster, but doesn't necessarily have as much value once the needed roster changes happen. Perkins is a great fit for the Celtics when they have a defensive-minded, shot blocking power forward. It's a great role for him. He isn't a scorer and he isn't going to be any more than a team's fifth best starter.
For as ugly as it has gotten for Boston at the start this season, it would not nearly be as ugly if Perkins were there to ease the inside burden on Kevin Garnett, or if Green's versatility was in place to alleviate the scoring load on Paul Pierce or Ray Allen.
Of course, but that's why you have backups. The Celtics have half-assed backing up their center and wing positions over the past couple of years and so they are paying for it this year. Sure, they haven't had a ton of cap room,. A lack of cap room probably somewhat affected their chances at getting better players, but it left them in a position where they had to hurt one position (center) in order to reinforce another position (the backup wing spot) last season. Hence the Perkins-Green trade.
With Perkins or Green, we wouldn't be here, at this intersection of allowing it to play out and blowing it apart.
Yes, we would. Garnett and Allen would still be free agents and neither Perkins or Green are cornerstone franchise pieces. They are guys who fit a role well, but they need good players around them to fill that role.
Why deal Perkins, when a mega-bucks contract decision would have had to have been made with Green, anyway?
This is irrelevant, even if it is a good point. I don't think the Celtics should have traded Perkins last season either. The issue the Celtics are facing is whether to ride this team out with Garnett and Allen as potential free agents or try to get value for them now and hurt the team in the short-term. Pierce is also out there as trade bait because you never know what kind of offer you may get for him. Trading Garnett and Allen would be giving up on a #1-#4 playoff spot and essentially giving up on the year...no matter what Ira Winderman tells us.
Why lock Doc Rivers into a new, long-term deal if there was even an iota of a thought about rebuilding?
Because the Celtics ownership thinks he is a good coach?
And why continually dangle Rajon Rondo while he remains the lone youthful component that could be utilized as a foundation for rebuilding?
Again, to see what return could be had for Rondo. The same reason Pierce is being dangled. These are two valuable players with non-expiring contracts. If Chris Paul could have been had for Rondo, isn't that a trade worth making?
This is the NBA, where the last time the Celtics blew it up they went eight seasons, starting in 1994, with just one playoff victory. Not one series victory, but winning one playoff game over an eight-year span.
And why did the Celtics have to blow it up at that point and failed? Because they held on too long with their veteran players instead of trading them on the fly. Because their best young player died of a heart condition. So if this is an analogous situation, and Rondo doesn't have a heart condition, then perhaps learning from history would say trading key players while still getting value is the best move.
What is so funny is Winderman and I are arguing to the same conclusion. He says the Celtics shouldn't blow it up, which I agree with at this point, but he is arguing this based on also stating the Celtics should trade Garnett and Allen. I count this as blowing up the Celtics. So he is essentially advocating the 2011-2012 Celtics do the exact thing the Celtics should have done prior to 1994, but did not do. Winderman is using the Celtics failure to not blow up the roster prior to 1994 as reasoning for why they shouldn't blow up the team during 11-12. Yet, the 1994 season is a perfect reason why the Celtics should blow up the roster (meaning trade two of the best four players is "blowing the roster up," no matter what Ira Winderman says) this year.
The counterargument, the one being mulled these days by Ainge, is that the step back does not have to be one off a cliff, if it is taken with the proper foresight, that the NBA's new collective-bargaining agreement rewards teams who build cap stashes.
On the surface, that appears to be the approach being taken by Mark Cuban in Dallas, who despite winning the 2011 championship allowed Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson to walk in the offseason without compensation.
This approach has not been proven to work yet. Let's remember this. The Mavericks could use a tall center who can block shots and play defense. You know, like Tyson Chandler.
What is even more interesting is Winderman uses the Mavericks as a potential destination for Kevin Garnett. So while trading for Odom and Garnett by the Mavericks, and the trading of Garnett by the Celtics, would the Mavericks and Celtics really be using similar rebuilding philosophies?
But there is a difference here, a significant difference from the nuclear winter being forecast in Boston:
Cuban's plan centers on reloading — perhaps with Deron Williams, perhaps with Dwight Howard — with Dirk Nowitzki still in place.
The equivalent in Boston would be doing the same with Pierce.There is also one other significant difference. Dirk is still at the top of his game, while Pierce seems to be declining in some ways. I'm not saying the Celtics shouldn't build around Pierce, but seeing what he can return on a trade makes sense for the Celtics, while building around Dirk makes sense for the Mavericks.
Nowitzki is 33; Pierce is 34. Dirk was MVP of the Finals last season; Pierce in 2008. Yes, Pierce's numbers have come down in recent seasons, but he still is a go-to scorer, a player capable of creating needed baskets in a league where such players simply have not come free other than during Pat Riley's one-time score in July 2010.
But for how much longer will Pierce be this guy? He is shooting 42% right now and may not be that go-to guy for much longer. I am not advocating the Celtics trade Pierce, but what if the Celtics manage to get a good haul for him? There's no harm in at least seeing what the market is like. This would never happen, but what if the Hornets offered (after February 12th of course) Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon for Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley? You just never know what trade opportunity may be available to improve the team in the long-term.
Then consider the state of the Eastern Conference. Considering Charlotte, Washington, Detroit, Cleveland, Toronto and New Jersey already have reservations at the lottery, it essentially would come down to beating out Milwaukee for the eighth seed. Even at Boston's current depths, that seems not only doable, but likely.
In fact, it would be achievable even in the midst of Ainge's restructuring, but not demolishing.I think there is too much panic over the Celtics current state of affairs and regardless of how Winderman spins this, trading Garnett/Allen and accepting a #7 or #8 seed is giving up on this current year. I also like how trading Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett is seen as "restructuring." Trading 40% of your starters seems like a demolishing of sorts to me.
What would make sense is dangling the expiring contracts of Allen and Garnett to contenders who could ship back either prospects or else similar expiring contracts and draft picks.
This does make sense. As does dangling Pierce or Rondo to see what they could return. There is a deep NBA Draft coming up, so if Pierce could net a first round pick and a quality player why not look into that too? The mistake a lot of teams make while rebuilding on the fly is half-assing it. Trying to rebuild while also stay competitive, but not wanting to trade too many good players or listen to offers for certain players. I don't think the Celtics are doing that, which is why Pierce/Rondo have been on the table.
Allen to Chicago in a package for Omer Asik would be a win-win for each side, the Bulls getting a better-than-Rip Hamilton sidekick for Derrick Rose, while the Celtics get a taste of the future in the middle.
The issue with this trade is it would have to be Omer Asik and a combination of other players for Allen. If the Bulls traded Asik they would also have to throw in other guys to make the trade work and the Bulls don't have expiring contracts. So the Celtics wouldn't really be gaining cap room in the long-term, which I think is their intent. I'm not sure if these teams match up very well. Not to mention, why would the Celtics trade Allen to the team they may face in the first round of the NBA Playoffs?
As for Garnett, the $21 million salary is massive, but Cuban, of all people, has the pieces to potentially concoct something in return.
How would this trade be made without hurting the Mavericks though? They have expiring contracts in Jason Terry and Jason Kidd, but this would weaken the Mavericks this year without these two players. Terry and Kidd's expiring contracts are also of value to the Mavericks, as well as the Celtics. The players the Celtics would get in return would not have expiring contracts, which wouldn't help them build around Paul Pierce. If the Mavericks and Celtics have similar goals to clear cap space, maybe they aren't the best partners in a trade.
With Rondo and Pierce, Boston still would measure up ahead of the Bucks, and therefore still measure up for a playoff spot.
Trading Garnett and Allen would be blowing the Celtics up in some ways. The Celtics would be a lesser team and it would big roster upheaval. They have valuable contracts because they are expiring and can give the Celtics room to sign players in the offseason. Pierce and Rondo have expensive contracts that aren't expiring after this year, so I can see how the urge to dangle them would be there.
For now, Ainge needs to take a deep breath before blowing up anything in Boston.
And then after taking this deep breath Winderman thinks Ainge should trade the Celtics best perimeter shooter and rebounder.
With a subtle touch, the playoffs — as well as rapid regeneration — remain not only plausible but eminently possible.
This can happen by trading Pierce to a contender and then using the cap space from Garnett and Allen's expiring contracts to rebuild the team. I don't think the Celtics should make a move necessarily, but trading Allen and Garnett would be blowing up the team in essence. It would be conceding the Celtics are playing for a lower playoff spot. Trading these two players is anything but subtle.