Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
On Doc Rivers:
“Doc is always unsure [about his future],” said Ainge. “Coaching is very, very draining. Every year with Doc, he’s had to go home and sort of recharge and ask himself that question, ‘Is this something that I’m passionate about and want to continue doing?’ I understand that. And we sorta give him time to unwind and relax, and after a couple of 92s on the golf course, he usually comes back.”
On Kevin Garnett:
“I do the same thing as I do with Doc: I give him some time away and I’ll touch base with KG probably sometime next week,” said Ainge. “He’s put so much into the game, he invests as much as any player I’ve ever seen. And he just needs time to chill and contemplate his life and then we’ll talk at some future time. But I do anticipate that KG will play. Just like I did last year, I feel the same this year. I don’t know for sure, but we’ll know more in the next couple weeks.”
On Paul Pierce:
“Conversation with my coach, conversation with Paul and his representatives,” said Ainge. “Opportunities that may present themselves. There’s a lot that will go into it, but it hasn’t even started yet, we have until June 30 to make any decision. Listen, Paul’s been one of the greatest Celtics of all time and that will play a part in it. We love what he’s done for us, but ultimately we have to do what we think is the best for us from this point forward. And I think that Paul still has a lot of basketball left in him.”
If you haven’t listened to the full audio of that interview, I’d recommend it highly. In fact, I’d say do it now and then come back so we can all be on the same page with what Ainge might mean… because there’s a lot there.
The Pierce question is the ultimate one here. As I explained on Monday, there are a lot of options regarding Pierce, but the ultimate decision has to be made by June 30. It seems like a long time, but that’s just 51 days. And when you consider Ainge has a draft to get ready for, that’s not long at all.
It’s hard to interpret his stance on Pierce. You can easily take “ We love what he’s done for us, but ultimately we have to do what we think is the best for us from this point forward” and say he’s clearly going to cut Pierce, save the $10 million, and move forward. Especially when later in the interview Ainge acknowledges that the Celtics aren’t simply one player away from being a title contender.
Put “ Paul’s been one of the greatest Celtics of all time and that will play a part in it” and “ I think that Paul still has a lot of basketball left in him” together and it seems like Danny might be willing to deal with the money this year if Pierce signs a very team-friendly “end your career here’ type of extension.
Trying to figure out what Danny is going to do is more dizzying than Vizzini trying to choose a glass of wine. And like that classic Princess Bride scene, both cups in front of Danny are poisoned. He’s either going to cut Pierce and be the villain with no loyalty, or he’s going to keep Pierce and be the sentimental fool with too much loyalty.
I know on Monday I said I was leaning towards the Celtics bringing Pierce back. And there are certainly merits for doing so. But I’m also slowly figuring out that if the Celtics are going to make any moves with any other guys, they might have little choice but to cut Pierce. Ainge has put the Celtics into a position where they’re over the tax line AND over the apron.
If he brings everybody back, the Celtics will only have the taxpayer mid-level exception to use, which is $3.183 million instead of $5.150 million. Plus, he’ll have to pay a draft pick, which will be somewhere north of a million dollars. With the C’s already at $76 million, just the pick and a mid-level guy would put their payroll up over $80 million. If they get $10 million over the tax line, they’d then get taxed at a rate of $2.50 for every dollar they are over…. which means a $25 million dollar tax bill.
I don’t know about you, but I think there’s zero chance in hell the Celtics will pay $105 million in total for a roster next year that features mostly the same crew from this past season, plus a mediocre player and a rookie.
It’s hard to know what Danny is going to do. He says he expects Garnett back. Garnett has said his future will be heavily influenced by Pierce. I can try as best I can to piece evidence together that shows the Celtics moving in a certain direction, but only Ainge has the full picture in his head. Only Ainge knows ALL of the possibilities, including what his coach and ownership group are willing to stomach.
There’s no doubt about what KG brings to the table. We spent all season talking about how much worse the Celtics were with him off the floor. And Paul Pierce showed flashes of brilliance as well. Unfortunately, we’re left with the taste of that Knicks series in our mouths.
51 days until a decision has to be made.
I’m glad I’m not Danny Ainge.
The rest of the links