Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 6/26/13
As Danny Ainge addressed the media Tuesday in Boston he opened with an important note, “I would first like to thank Doc for nine years of friendship and great coaching. He’s a great teammate and we don’t win banner 17 without him”. Doc Rivers has been one of the best head coaches in the NBA over the last six seasons, and the Celtics team may have been able to win an NBA title without him in ’08, but there’s no way they continue to fight, scratch and claw the last five seasons like they have with anyone else at the helm. So when the Celtics finalized their deal to send Rivers to the Clippers in exchange for an unprotected 2015 first round selection, I sat back and wondered. I wondered where a proud organization like the Celtics would go from here. I wondered what that meant for the likes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and for their future. Then I stopped wondering, because the reality is the Celtics and Rivers had gone as far together as they could possibly go with these players and this coach. I’m sure Rondo and Rivers could have made it work as they continued towards being a perennial 6-8 seed, but this route, this change, will make the transition much quicker, and allow for the Celtics, with some good moves and a little luck, to be back in contender status again. With Doc Rivers gone that means that it’s time to move on from Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as well, and shedding that salary can do nothing but help the future of the Celtics. There are already rumors of Pierce being dealt to a team like the Cavaliers, that would net them a trade exception they are ready and willing to use to get Rondo’s longtime friend Josh Smith. Doing so would be a nod to Rondo that he is the future of this organization and the piece they plan on building around. Then there’s the Garnett dilemma. The original thought was the Celtics would send Garnett for a small haul of pieces to the Clippers, but that is blocked for the foreseeable future. That leaves a possible move with the Brooklyn Nets, and let’s be honest, trading Garnett to a division rival isn’t the first choice, but these are the Nets, and adding another expensive, aging player won’t put them over the top. On the other hand getting anything for Garnett at this stage, and clearing salary, has to be considered a win. If the Celtics go into the post Big 3 and Doc era with a pieces like Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, and Josh Smith you have a nice core that is just missing a key player to put it all together, and that isn’t necessarily the Celtics rebuild that some will be calling it. Whether they can find that player, well that’ll be what ends up making Danny Ainge’s legacy even bigger in Boston.
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