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A Thin Line Between Loyalty and Success

Sebastian Lena February 20, 2013 Celtics News, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce 18 Comments

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.

 

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  • NorthernGreen

    Well said. We need to let Danny do his job and we need to be fans. Paul and KG are professionals and know they have to go someday. As Celtics, they want the best for the franchise and the fans. They will leave us with some fond memories. Go Celtics!!!

  • Eddie Allen Powe

    Question: why did the Ray Allen – OJ mayo deal fall through?

  • Lewis35

    I love my C’s but let’s upgrade now…… Time to trade in the Beamer. If we could turn pierce and Garnett into josh smith, Bledsoe, and Jordan ill fly and pick them up this second.

    • Mike

      Agreed

  • KWAPT

    Pierce has really had his struggles at times, but I’m sorry-KG is far from something you’d “trade in for parts..”. He means quite a bit more to this franchise and it’s success than points, minutes or rebounds can measure. As does Paul in some ways. I agree there is a time to move on, but not just for the sake of “moving-on”.

  • JETson

    Rondo/Bass for Smith/Zaza/pick

    • JETson

      Simmons proposed this tonight

    • LA Flake

      i’d do this in a heartbeat. no pick necessary.

  • 1nsomn1ak

    Now is not the time. My first car was an Oldsmobile Cutlass cruiser I bought for $800. I got that bastard up to 130 mph on the way back from Montreal once, traded it in for scrap to buy a newer car and never forgave myself. Paul and Kev both have enough left in the tank skill wise to justify their contracts, and are a steal if u consider what they contribute from a spirit/coaching perspective. With j Sullinger making 3 mil a year at the most for the next two years, I think that totally justifies kg’s salary, and while admittedly Paul looks like he’s hurting, kg is playing some of his best ball right now.. Plus, I LOVE WATCHING THIS TEAM

  • SF Celts fan

    TIME TO BLOW IT UP. LET’S BE REAL ABOUT THE FUTURE!!!

  • LA Flake

    some of you guys…unbelievable.

    rondo, jordan and josh smith on the same team??? really? it’ll result in the WORST SPACING EVER. and a Hack a Celt, HACK ANY CELT strategy will be used by every team in the league.

    you see, jsmith would look great in green. WITH pierce & garnett on the team. same goes for jordan. he’ll look great in green. WITH pp & kg on the team. but rondo/smith/jordan but no pp and kg? oh gawd…come on, y’all. THINK!

  • Fatz

    My dream senario would be Ainge trade PP for J Smith straight up BUT only if it looks like ATL probably is going to buy him out nxt season. Then trade Bass to Magic for Reddick. Use Barbosa contract to get some guard help. That way we could still be a threat this year. Really a better chance of winning to be honest. Now give Smith ALMOST Max money nxt yr. (What we pay PP this year) Then nxt yr bring PP back after he bought out. Let him come off the bench. Let Reddick go and pay PP about 7a yr. Then nxt yr we have a starting 5 of RR,AB,JG,JS and Melo (Who i still think is going to be a beast). And a bench rotation of Jet,Lee,Pierce,Sully,&KG. Nasty!

    • LA Flake

      have you ever watched jsmith play? if so, how the hell did you come to the conclusion that he deserves anything close to “ALMOST” max? was it the dunks? youtube clips?

  • TommyPoints

    We are talking about people here…people are not expendable…cars are…trading the only leadership in the locker room would be sure to decimate team morale to the point of ill-functioning…these guys bring the more important intangible qualities that you just can’t measure…its not like a car where you will get the same result by replacing it. If either one gets traded I’m sorry but its going to be a nightmare.

    • Astarot

      Agree

    • Geriatric Tom Heinsohn

      TRADE EVERYONE

  • Astarot

    I get it all but let’s keep couple things in mind. Stat lines are not everything Pierce can still save the game (see Denver game in Boston) and Garnett you like it or not is still the best defender fo Cs in the paint he’s defensive general he’s controling everthing on that end of the floor even though they can’t count on him 30 minutes a night anymore. So it’s not only about memories it’s not only “keep them till they die” thinking maybe it’s not 100% rational look ok, but there still are rational reasons to keep them. Wat’s more trading both of them woud mean blow it up mode cuz non of the players even the best one they can get won’t jump into the system in the middle of the season with the rest of the players still on the squad. If Ainge want to blow it up it’d be better to do it “rationaly” other words – in the summer, when there’s a time to deal with every problem when there’s a time to put every piece in the right place and most likely more interesting offers will apear on the market. And the last one I know it’s a business but I don’t wanna hear Ainge will blow it cuz of the salary cap that’s not rational in the middle of the season even facing season ending injuries. You wanna clear the cap you can do it in the off-season with the better result. If they’d be on the dead end of the table with zero chance to make the playoffs that’d be the reason to blow it.

  • bojan

    Jsmith isn’t worth a max (near max) contract. I don’t want him in Boston. Just wait for kevin love