Originally written on Celtics Green ...a boston celtics blog.  |  Last updated 11/8/14
I believe, and apparently Danny Ainge does also, that the current Celtics are more than one piece away from contending for a championship.  Their “spare” parts won’t get a starter much less a near star.  Even delving into their future core pieces finds a depleted trade stock with Rondo and Sully coming off surgery.  Without incriminating pictures of some GM or owner, I don’t think you can get there from here. Even with Pierce and Garnett as half time players, Ainge could probably sign a MLE (limited since we would be over the Luxury apron) center FA and run them back out and into the playoffs.  An honest appraisal would be that they might make it out of the first round but would be 100-1 (maybe 1000-1) shot to make it to the finals.  Where does that leave us next May--a late-teens pick in the 2014 draft, the likely exit of Pierce and Garnett getting the C’s some $10M (add the trio from China and it’s $13M) under the salary cap (less the cap hold for next year’s picks), this year’s pick with a year of experience (likely in the D-league), Terry entering the last year of his contract, and, well, that’s about the extent of the positives.  But hey, we gave it a shot? No, as appealing as the sentimental final (unfortunately not “victory”) lap seems in the nostalgic fog, I am dissuaded by the freshness of the painful images of our gallant warriors trying to summon greatness from aging bodies no longer responding to their mental commands/demands.  The better basketball move is getting something in return for our former All-Stars.  And rather than flogging the faltering steeds to carry an insufficient supporting cast, it is likely the more complimentary move to give them the chance, at least a better chance, to make their last hurrah supplementing an effort elsewhere with a greater probability of success. Well there is the rationale, now for the implementation.  Danny keeps saying that he won’t move the stars unless he can get a suitable return.  What do you expect him to say, “They’re going regardless of how low-ball the offer?”  I think we have reached the point where success will be getting some combination of--a player with potential, an expiring contract, and a pick.  That leaves me with these goals for this season:  get under the salary cap if possible (and tally a mark toward avoiding the repeater Luxury Cap penalties), develop young talent, acquire assets, convert aging veteran role-players into more useful assets (cap room, roster spots, picks, development projects), and take stock of assets on hand sorting them into keepers and movers.  Notice that win wasn’t even on the list.  This year is a discovery and positioning year.  The goal is to make it “the” down year, rather than plunging into a down half- or full decade.  Find/discover/develop starters and dump/convert role-players into assets.  Position is less of a concern than quality.  Build the core; the log-jams and role-players can be addressed next year or the year after. Moves this month: Pierce for the injured Marvin Williams (6 month recover from Achilles surgery) and first round pick(s) For Boston—salary, pick (2013-#14, 2015?), recovery length a non-issue if down year, 27-year-old starter level replacing 35-year-old former star. For Utah—immediate help (perhaps upgrade) for up-and-coming team with two young bigs, Williams has a $7.5M player option next year and is coming off major surgery.  They can pay Marvin 7.5 to rehab the final year of his expiring contract or Pierce 15 to shore up SF and push back into the playoffs. Chinese pu-pu platter (Williams, Randolph, White) to Dallas (#13 pick and Vince Carter $3.18M) or Houston (Thomas Robinson $3.53M) to let them dump salary (cut the non-guaranteed contracts) to chase Dwight Howard.  I strongly lean toward the Dallas deal for the pick—but more on the multiple picks use later.  I actually like Randolph and Williams but they are role players not starters—great for run-it-back, lousy for rebuilding. Kevin Garnett to LA Clippers for Eric Bledsoe ($2.63M), Caron Butler ($8M), 2014-1st Draft Steven Adams and two of the three foreigners—Dennis Schroeder, Giannis Adetokunbo, and Dario Saric.  Leave the foreign players overseas this season. Next month: Sign Timofey Mosgov to $3M contract, 3 years with last a team option. Fall: Hold Rondo and Sullinger out of action and allow full, slow recovery with strength built up.  Showcase veterans for mid-season trading.  Look for injuries on other teams to move Butler, Terry, Carter, Crawford, and perhaps Bass and Lee. November lineup: Bledsoe----Crawford------Butler-------Green-------Mosgov Terry-------Carter----------Lee----------Bass---------Adams --------------Bradley-------------------------------------Melo Injury—Rondo, Sullinger, Marvin Williams Overseas—Saric, Schroeder, or Adetokunbo February: Move Terry, Butler, Carter, and Crawford for 2nd round picks, or just buy out.  Any of these should insure getting below the cap and provide the space to explore and test the remaining core prospects. If successful, sign development prospects with option for following year. Lineup for run in second half: Rondo-------Bradley-------Green--------Sullinger----Mosgov Bledsoe-----Lee-------------Williams----Bass---------Adams Leftovers, prospects, and -------------------------------Melo Lineup for development/decisions if out of race: Bledsoe------Bradley--------Williams----Sullinger----Adams Prospect-----Lee-------------prospect-----Melo---------Mosgov Rondo and Green play in spurts and are player/coaches grooming the next competitive Green Team. Certainly sets up a far different situation next May than the run-it-back scenario. I always detest vague rebuild demands waving the magic wand to convert flotsam and jetsam into silk purses and All-Stars.  Well, I’ve named names, sacrificed sacred cows, lengthened rehabilitations, showcased sale items, and tanked for development, converting assets, and a full rebuilding year.  Let the cannonade of protests and complaints begin. [Discuss on CG Forums!]
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