Comcast SportsNet New England’s Jessica Camerato put it bluntly:
Whether it’s about KG, Rondo or Fab, no trade rumor should come as surprise. Basketball is a business. Execs have to explore any/all options.
It’s something Boston Celtics fans should keep in mind as we close within 24 hours of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Over this past week, Danny Ainge has been one of the most active GMs around the league, reportedly fielding and making several calls.
The names that have come up the most during these talks are that of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
I can hear it now.
“No way, not the captain!”
“Where’s the loyalty?”
“Garnett and Pierce should be Celtics until they die. And when that happens, their coffins should be lowered underneath the floor of the TD Garden!”
How about we act a little more rational?
Say you had a ’98 BMW that you loved. It was your baby. Through the years, it’s gotten you from Point A to Point B. It’s been instrumental to all of your late night food binges and been there when you just needed to clear your head.
Then one day, out of the blue, it slowly broke down.
Suddenly, the trips begin to take longer. The mechanical bills start piling up. And sometimes, you can’t even get 10 feet out of your driveway.
Would you ride that beloved Beamer until it completely died down on some highway, in the middle of nowhere at 2 am in the morning?
Or would you find a way to the dealership, try and trade the car in for parts and put that down payment on the shiny new BMW seven series you’ve always dreamed of?
In some ways, this is exactly the conundrum that Ainge is dealing with.
Since being drafted by Boston in 1998, Pierce has given the team 14 solid years. He’s been the leading scorer for the last 11 seasons and is second on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 23,561 points—behind John Havlicek’s 26,395.
On the other hand, Garnett was traded to the Celtics in 2007 and immediately provided results. Almost 10 months later he helped deliver the team’s 17th NBA title and their first in 22 years. He has played his heart out for the green and white year in and year out.
These two are the epitome of team loyalty and should be seen as examples for the younger players in the league.
However, their days of productivity might be nearing its end.
Through 53 games this season, Pierce is averaging 18.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. He’s also shooting 41 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from beyond the arc. Both his scoring mark and field-goal percentage are the second lowest of his career.
But lately, Pierce’s struggles have entered another level.
Over his last three games, he’s averaged just 10.3 points per game. Pierce has also shot just 8-of-38 (21.1 percent) from the field and 4-of-13 (30.8 percent) from three-point range.
While Pierce might still put together a solid stat line, his jump shot seems to deteriorate a little more each week. Plus, he has seemed to lose some of his ability to create his own shot.
It’s a similar story with Garnett.
In 53 games, the 17-year veteran has averaged 15.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while shooting 50.2 percent from the field. Not including the 2009-10 season, where Garnett was still recovering from his knee injury the previous year, this has been his least productive season since his rookie campaign.
There’s no doubt that he’s still a force on the defensive side of the ball, but Boston hasn’t been able to depend on him as it has in previous years. He’s only logging 30.3 minutes a night this season—the third lowest of his career.
Had this Celtics team been in serious contention for another title run—c’mon, let’s be honest—both Pierce and Garnett’s presence would be beneficial in the locker room. Their combined experience and leadership would be invaluable.
However, Boston is dealing with the loss of Rajon Rondo, two other season-ending injuries and a valiant second-round exit as their ceiling.
Is it really worth holding onto the memories of yesteryear at the cost of the team’s success?
I don’t think so.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the Celtics should actively seek out potential suitors for the duo. I’m saying that if the right deal comes along, Ainge should jump on it.
It might not be the most popular move among the Boston faithful. But then again, keeping the fans happy isn’t in his job description. Keeping the Celtics a winner is.
The rest usually tends to follow.
Whether they score their final baskets with Boston or not, Pierce and Garnett will still go down as two of the best in franchise history. Both their jerseys will one day hang from the rafters of the TD Garden.
Nothing will change that.
So if Ainge does decide to deal Pierce or Garnett, save your declarations of never watching another Celtics game for another occasion. Instead, look at it more as the passing of the baton from one era to the next.
As hard as it may be, sometimes it’s just better to move on.