BY KEVIN HARRIMAN
Boston Sports Desk Publisher
BOSTON – History has a way of repeating itself. If you weren’t sure about that, you only need to look at the 2011-12 version of the Boston Celtics.
As currently constituted, the Celtics look like a conglomeration of aged veterans, well past their prime who have a difficult time keeping up with younger, more athletic teams.
In their prime, this group was devastating, dominant and “championship driven.”
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen combined to win a championship in 2008 and were a Kendrick Perkins injury away from another Game-7 Championship win over the L.A. Lakers. But that seems so long ago at this point.
In a shortened NBA season of 66 games and many back-to-back games to be played between now and April, the Boston Celtics have no shot of Banner 18. None !
For Celtics Fans older than 30, you will remember the fatal flaw of the Celtics of the late-80′s and early 90′s. Then General Manager and President Red Auerbach allowed Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish (The Original Big-3) to finish out their careers with the Celtics rather than trade them while they had some value. The Original Big -3 won three NBA Titles (1981, 84, 86) during their tenure but they all came earlier 80′s. When the late 80′s and early 90′s came around, this group was a shell of themselves.
Back problems for Bird, foot problems for McHale and minor nagging injuries to Parish didn’t allow Boston a chance following the 87 season to contend for a title. Instead of trading one or all of them to replenish the team, they were all allowed to sail of into the sunset. Yes I know Parish also played with Charlotte and won a title with Chicago as a role player following his time in Boston. But while they had value. they were kept in Boston and allowed to retire in the case of McHale and Bird in Celtics Green.
Does this sound familiar ? It should. General Manager Danny Ainge rolled the dice with the current cast of characters and it is coming back to bite him in the ass. Boston finds itself off to a 4-8 start to the season and looking up in 10th spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston not only is far from competing for Banner 18, it finds itself in the midst of no longer being a desirable destination for NBA elite free agents.
Less than a month ago before the season started, both Chris Paul and David West shot down the idea of coming to Boston. The likelihood that a player of the talent of Dwight Howard coming to Boston…….not a chance.
This team will make the playoffs given the current state of other teams in the Eastern Conference. Boston has had very little trouble beating the bottom rung teams. But give them a game against a young, athletic squad and Boston shows its age and deficiencies. But with New York and Cleveland above them in the standings, there is still a good chance of Boston sneaking into the 7 or 8 spot and making the playoffs.
That statement alone is enough to make a season ticket holder vomit. And I for one am opposed to such a situation. Squeeking into the playoffs only to be ousted in the first round by Miami or Chicago has no appeal to me.
It’s time to blow this roster up. Both KG and Allen have expiring contracts that may be of some value to a team either needing a veteran talent for a championship run or looking to clear cap space next year. The same could be said for keeping KG and Allen, there by clearing cap space next season and trading Paul Pierce who has two years left on his deal.
Boston has just $34.5 M on the books for next season including Pierce’s nearly $17M salary.
Ainge deserves a great deal of credit for putting together deals for KG and Allen. Without that trade, the Celtics would not have won a title in 07. He also deserves credit for taking a chance and trading Perkins last season in hopes of giving The Green a chance at another title run last season. The move failed badly with Boston losing to Miami in the Conference semi-finals and Jeff Green (acquired in the Perkins trade) having to miss this season with a heart ailment.
But at least he didn’t stand pat when he knew last season’s team needed something more going into the playoffs before the trade deadline. This season, Ainge chose to stand pat, swapping Brandon Bass for Glen Davis before the season started as his lone big move of the off-season.
Ainge now has a chance to do something. Blow this thing up now or trade Pierce and allow KG and Allen to leave next season when their contracts are up. One or the other needs to happen. Standing still and allowing Pierce to retire a Celtic with no talent around him is not the answer.
BOSTON CELTICS SALARY STRUCTURE
Key: Player Option / Team Option / Qualifying Offer / Amnestied Tea