Is Kevin Garnett the most expendable Celtic, and could he be used to acquire Dwight Howard? Anything is possible
The Boston Celtics won last night against the Toronto Raptors, but make no mistake, this is a team that needs a major change-up if it’s going to compete for an NBA Title this season. All off-season, Celtics fans have told themselves that as long as the Celtics get into the playoffs, the team has a chance, but the wear and tear on the Celtics has shown. They have (mostly) come into this season out of shape, and with less jump in their steps. The issue is that the Celtics sit on a crossroads of a franchise and playing the situation poorly will send the Celtics into basketball purgatory of early playoff exits and mid-to late round draft picks for the next ten years.
The Celtics are left with only two options. The first is to make moves for expiring contracts, tank the rest of the season, and pray for the lottery in an extremely deep draft. The other option is to make a move this season that can help the Celtics win this year and perhaps into the future, but most importantly win now.
After the jump, what would save the Celtics 2012 season
How would the Celtics accomplish this? Well, it would require the trade of one of the Big Three in Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett to be sent somewhere, probably to a team looking for an expiring contract pupu platter. In recent years, this would be considered blasphemy. Breaking up the Big Three when they still have a chance to win a title and single-handily saved the sport of basketball in the city of Boston? The person who has that idea would have to be a heartless monster.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective of things, the Celtics currently have that heartless monster employed as their director of basketball operations, Danny Ainge. Last season, he killed the Celtics family and fanbase when he moved Kendrick Perkins for J.D Drew Jeff Green (and that isn’t a joke strike-thru. I actually wrote J.D Drew) and killed the Celtics inside defense and had numerous teams say aloud “We can beat the Celtics now”. Just the other day, Danny Ainge admitted he would be willing to break up the Big Three if it made the Celtics better this season and for the long run.
Danny Ainge does not want to see another decline in the franchise like the one that happened after the Boston Celtics’ original Big Three dried up, and he’s reportedly willing to break up his current star trio to ensure that.
The only problem is that he’s not seeing any worthwhile deals to make.
The Celtics have limped to a 5-8 start behind 34-year-old Paul Pierce, 35-year-old Kevin Garnett and 36-year-old Ray Allen. Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, told The Boston Globe that he would consider a trade if it would help the team get younger and be poised to be competitive in the next era.
The question is what kind of deal would that be? There isn’t really a collection of young talent that could be acquired for the Big Three members that
A.) Wouldn’t leave the Celtics salary cap handcuffed headed into the Summer of 2012
B.) Would propel the Boston Celtics to the 2012 title.
So if a trade is to happen, the Celtics either need to completely load their roster with expiring contracts or acquire someone that will help them reach the Finals in order to make sure the next 5-10 years aren’t complete failures. Playing with ESPN.com’s trade machine, there is only one trade I can find that the Celtics might wish to attempt.
That would be a trade for Orlando Magic Center Dwight Howard.
Now before I go on, I know the Celtics aren’t on the list of teams he would sign an extension with meaning he is kind of “off the table” for a trade to Boston, but here me out. The Magic sound more and more desperate to move Dwight before he goes the way of Lebron James and leaves town without the Magic getting anything in return. The only young talent they covet is Andrew Bynum, but with the way he is playing for the Lakers, the chance of the Magic getting a deal they like that includes Andrew Bynum is greatly diminished. The Clippers, the Nets and the Mavericks are the only other teams on Howard’s “list” but they have nothing in the way of tradeable assets. That leaves teams not on Howard’s list that want to win now and don’t care if they can’t sign an extension to get it done. The Celtics are one of those teams.
Now if the Magic find themselves in a position where they want to load themselves with expiring contracts to make plays in the Summer of 2012, the Celtics are a team they can talk too, and there is a pretty obvious one that I see that could happen.
Two Future Unprotected Number One Draft Picks
From the point of view of the Magic, they make the deal for the draft picks they acquire, the expiring contracts they acquire to make themselves players in the Summer of 2012, and the young players that might turn into something nice.
But that’s not the important part. The important part is why the Celtics would do it. First of all, the Celtics acquire Hedu because the Magic are doing whatever they can to send him as part of any Dwight Howard trade. Likely, the Celtics amnesty him to the curb and get his cap hit back. The key to this trade is dealing Kevin Garnett.
KG has been the emotional and defensive leader of the Celtics since he came over to the team. His presence has taught everyone from Rajon Rondo to Kendrick Perkins how to play defense at a high level and has made it part of the culture in the City of Boston once again. Kevin Garnett, however, is in a terrible condition physically. He can no longer jump, like he used to and his jump shot and post game has suffered for it. He is way too slow on his rotations and he just simply can’t play defense like he used to. Of the Big Three, he is the most expendable. Paul Pierce is almost untouchable because nobody wants to touch his three year contract with a stick and Ray Allen is still playing at a high-level. Bringing in Dwight Howard to anchor that defense actually makes the Celtics a legitimate title contender, assuming Pierce finds his legs. A line-up of Rondo/Allen/Pierce/Bass/Howard puts the Celtics in a position to not only win this year, but stay active next Summer if Howard doesn’t accept his option and the Celtics find themselves playing the free-agent field. Considering that the two things the Celtics would want to accomplish in a trade is win this year and move on into the next era, this sort of trade would accomplish both.
As a fan of the Celtics and someone who has appreciated the Big Three and how they have played together the past four seasons, this would break my heart. I love Kevin Garnett. I love his fire, I love his mannerisms and I love how he reinspired a love of basketball in this city. Number five will be retired to the Garden rafters some day because of the past four years, and it will be extremely well deserved. Sometimes, you have to move on and it might be time for both sides to understand that. A trade like this could work for all parties involved and position the Celtics for a chance to win banner number 18.