Barring Jermaine O’Neal playing the caliber of basketball that he played while he was with the Indiana Pacers, or rookie Greg Stiemsma suddenly transforming into the second coming of Jack Sikma, the Boston Celtics are not among the teams favored to make it to the NBA Finals this June. The team’s core group are aging and the club has too many holes in too many positions to truly be a viable threat to make it back to the Finals for the third time since they won the NBA Championship in 2008. If the Boston Celtics window of opportunity is still open; it is probably due to faulty weather-stripping.
Boston could have put on a “Fire-Sale” on Thursday as the Portland Trail Blazers did, trading veterans Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby and putting them right into rebuild mode. From various sources I have been able to ascertain that Celtics Team President Danny Ainge fielded a few calls from teams wanting the services of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce for the stretch drive. According to the information I have received; Ainge purposely asked teams for a parcel of players that he knew the opposing team executive would most likely turn down as too costly. The former Boston guard’s alleged tactics worked as the “New Big Three” are still members of the Celtics roster and will get to bid the fans farewell at the end of the club’s season.
Ainge told reporters a few months ago about a Christmas party he had attended some time back, during which Celtics legendary leader Red Auerbach told Ainge, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale that he had been offered a parcel of talented young players in return for Bird and McHale towards the end of their careers but turned them down. Ainge told media members that he was incredulous that Red had turned the deals down.
The Boston Team President must have realized since he told the anecdote to reporters, that the reason Auerbach turned down the trade offers was due to loyalty, to two players that had brought so much to the team over the years and meant so much to the fans. They deserved to leave the team on their own terms, instead of via a mid-season trade. Ainge apparently took this to heart if my sources are correct and purposely asked for too much in return so that Garnett, Allen and Pierce could finish the season on the Celtics.
With both Allen and Garnett’s contracts expiring at the end of the season; odds are they are playing their final games in a Celtics uniform, or if they do come back it will be at vastly reduced rates. Garnett is making over $21 million this year while Allen is making $10 million for the campaign. That come off the books at the end of the season and Boston will have some payroll flexibility, to begin their rebuild with.
What Ainge displayed was loyalty; a quality that Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade denigrated in a recent tweet. Just because the talented Miami player has problems grasping the concept of the word, does not mean that loyalty has ceased to exist; as Ainge and Dwight Howard both displayed on Thursday.