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.
I hate to be repetitve here at the Dump, but we all know that the big story this day, and every day for a while, will revolve around Danny Ainge, Doc and the Celts’ vets. Who will be back? I personally believe Doc will definitely return. He’s said publicly that he’s willing to work with whoever Danny brings in. As far as Paul and Kevin, that’s anyone’s guess at this point. ESPN Boston-No Easy Answers For Ainge:
In the near future — maybe even this week — Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will call head coach Doc Rivers and ask him if he has made a decision about next season. With more than a few rounds of golf under his belt and his kids already wondering when Dad’s going back to work, Rivers will almost certainly confirm that he’s in for the 2013-14 campaign.
Ainge will hang up the phone and dial Kevin Garnett, hoping not to interrupt one of his beach yoga sessions in Malibu, Calif. Garnett will smile when he hears Rivers is on board for next season and might even hint that he’s coming back as well. But Garnett will probably leave his options open and he’ll quickly be the one asking questions: What’s Ainge’s plan from here? And what about Paul Pierce?
That’s where things get interesting.
Ainge has sounded recently like a general manager who knows the best path for his organization might include making some tough — and maybe even unpopular — personnel decisions, the future of Pierce chief among them. After his team was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, Ainge has to consider whether simply putting the band back together and crossing his fingers for better health is a viable plan, or if a larger overhaul is needed. There are no easy answers.
This is a nervous and uncertain time to be a Celtics fan. One of the other hometown teams just celebrated a fantastic game 7 win last night. Their future is clear-another playoff series. But for C’s fans, the future is quite foggy. The last couple of seasons, we’ve had similar situations, but this offseason, you just get the feeling that major change is coming. Mainly in the sense of the possible departure of one or both of the remaining members of “Big 3″.
One thing Ainge knows is that he has to do what’s best for his team, something he has always pledged to do. And if Garnett asks about Pierce, Ainge will have to be brutally honest and note that he’s going to examine all options — whether it’s waiving Pierce given that only $5 million is guaranteed on his contract next season, using the amnesty clause to take the final year of that deal completely off the books, or — the most likely scenario — examining the trade market for potential swaps that would temper the departure of the face of Boston’s franchise, while bringing back talent that could help take the team in a new direction.
Garnett might understand. Or he might not. In this murky offseason, there are few definitive answers. And we shouldn’t expect them any time soon. A quick rundown of Ainge’s initial offseason to-do list and what we can expect.
• The Doctor’s In?: Rivers can provide a little bit of stability — and a little bit of good news for a team whose season ended awfully early — by doing what most everyone expects him to do and returning for at least one more season. After inking a five-year, $35 million extension following the 2010-11 campaign, Rivers pledged to endure whatever lay ahead, citing the team’s loyalty to him during the lean years before the Big Three were assembled.
Just a few weeks ago, Rivers joked about how he always needs time to decompress before making even the most routine decision about his future.
“In the summer, you’re sitting around the house, and [wife] Kris is driving me nuts, she wants me out of the house, and the kids want me out and I say, ‘I’m going back to work,’” Rivers explained of his offseason decision-making process. “That’s how it works.”
I think Doc’s return is just as important as KG’s or Paul’s. Not just for the obvious reason that Garnett is more likely to return if Rivers is around. But also for the fact that Doc is a respected coach throughout the NBA. When free-agents weigh a decision to come and play here, having a guy like Doc around is a huge bonus. It’s clear that he has great relationships with his players and knows how to get the best out of them. In my opinion he does anyway..
But even keeping the band together has question marks for a team with 14 of 15 players under contract entering the offseason. Will Rondo be 100 percent next season? (Derrick Rose shows that’s no guarantee; even if Ainge remains steadfast that Rondo is on pace to return for training camp.) Can Jeff Green ascend to a top option and further lessen the load on Garnett and Pierce? Beyond that, there are questions about the back half of the roster, like whether Jason Terry and Courtney Lee — with matching $5.2 million contracts — can perform better than this past season. Or if Sullinger can get back to playing at a starter level after back surgery, and what that means for Brandon Bass and his $6.5 million salary moving forward.
All of which is to say, don’t expect to know much about how the 2013-14 Celtics will look any time soon. This process is going to take time. Every answer will lead only to more questions.
The rest of the links: