|Danny Ainge says he'll consider "blowing up" the Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce (Getty Images)|
By Matt Moore
In comments which should surprise absolutely no one, Danny Ainge told the Boston Globe Thursday that he's prepared to blow up the Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce if they could find a deal which will help them transition into the next era of contention through younger players. The Celtics, who have yet to defeat a team over .500 and who snapped a five-game losing streak with a win over Toronto Wednesday night, have looked well past their prime. The team continues to insist it's a matter of conditioning and not necessarily age. But Ainge's comments clearly indicate that he's not willing to hold out until the Celtics' door has been slammed completely shut. From the Boston Globe:
Ainge said he would consider trades if they would net younger talent. He has maintained he does not want the franchise to go through a 10-year span of insignificance as it did following the departures of the previous Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, who remained with the team past their primes.via Ainge would consider Big Three trade - Boston.com.
"First of all it’s a different era," Ainge told the Globe. "I sat with Red (Auerbach) during a Christmas party (in the 1990s). Red was talking to Larry, Kevin, and myself and there was a lot of trade discussion at the time and Red actually shared some of the trade discussions. And I told Red what are you doing? Why are you waiting?
"He had a chance to trade Larry (to Indiana) for Chuck Person and Herb Williams and (Steve) Stipanovich and he had a chance to trade Kevin (to Dallas) for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. I was like are you kidding? I mean I feel that way now. If I were presented with those kind of deals for our aging veterans, it’s a done deal to continue the success."
If you want to take anything of real note from these comments, it's that Ainge no longer has confidence and faith that this core can contend for a championship. That doesn't mean he's ruled it out, but it means that he's not completely comfortable with the core formed four years ago that sought multiple titles to the most storied franchise in the league (with apologies to the mighty Lakers), and to date have only brought one. That's one more than most players or franchises have ever obtained, but that's not the standard in Boston.
Paul Pierce seems to have very little lift or stamina, as evidenced by a pair of ugly missed layup attempts against the Raptors Wednesday night when Pierce was blocked by the rim. Pierce finished with eight points but did have seven assists vs. the Raptors. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett has very little lift and is struggling for the first time in the are he has for so long dominated, defense. Ray Allen is still knocking down threes but even he of the ridiculous conditioning has shown the effects of age. It's hard to see this team improving on last year's progress which ended in a quick five games against the Miami Heat.
Ainge is faced with tearing down the most successful team of his tenure, and trading multiple Hall of Famers who teams know have eroding abilities and who will likely not have the same motivation outside the warm, family environment of the Boston green, for young players and picks with which to build a new nucleus around Rajon Rondo with. Jeff Green was projected to be a part of that foundation, but his heart condition has left his career up in the air for the foreseeable future, and the Celtics have no other young assets.
But that's not the only reason Ainge may not be able to get a deal done. The odds are strong the Celtics will go on a tear this season. They'll start playing better, get into better condition, start showing flashes of the old intensity on both sides of the ball. A few significant wins against top teams will create the urge for Aine to stay his hand. The problem is that defeating teams which may not honestly take them very seriously at this point in the regular season is drastically different from the playoffs, and after the brutal intensity of this compacted regular season, the Celtics simply may not have enough left in what is already a depleted tank to make a push once they get to the playoffs, having burned so much fuel just to reach the planet Postseason.
It's an interesting question to ponder, if the Big 3 are broken up: did they fail? On the one hand, they validated all three of their Hall of Fame entry tickets with a championship, and in the age of free agency, one ring is rarer than ever. But this team had lofty expectations of a dynasty, and instead may walk away with just the one. How can you win a championship with a core, and make another Finals trip, and be considered a failure? The answer to that question lies with the legacy of the name of the front of their uniforms, and though history will judge them individually as giants among mortals, if this is the Big 3's last year together their legacy will be significantly less in stature than what we assumed it would be when confetti rained on them in 2008.
(HT: SLAM Online)