By Matt Noonan
Over the past 12 months, we’ve learned a lot about the Boston Celtics.
They’re no longer the top dog or a team that’s feared. Instead, they’re a veteran team that’s most likely going to finish the current season with at least 25 to 28 wins, and somehow squeak their way into the playoffs.
They’ll probably earn a few postseason victories too, but then lose to the younger and more athletic units, which include Chicago, Miami and New York, which is expected, right?
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen have all aged, so don’t expect their tiresome legs to cruise to one more championship series, especially this season. However, it’s possible, yet highly doubtful that Boston will see a repeat of Bill Russell’s Celtics from 1969, but again, don’t hold your breath.
So, what exactly have we learned from this past year?
Could it be that team president Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to wheel and deal?
And finally, maybe the Green and White should have traded point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas or Detroit for various veterans?
Ok… take a deep breath because I, Matt Noonan have a few thoughts and ideas in regards to all these questions stated above.
Ainge Likes to Wheel and Deal: Any owner, president or manager for a particular team or organization is always going to contemplate the question — how can I improve my team?
In the case of Ainge, he wants to win. However, I think it’s fair to say that he’s a gambler, as well as someone who’s all-in, especially at the blackjack table. Yet, adding players like Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, Carlos Arroyo, Troy Murphy and Rasheed Wallace didn’t exactly help Boston win their 18th championship banner, but instead, create aggravation and frustration for the past few years.
Celtics fans need to understand that Ainge is going to gamble. He’ll win and lose various trades and acquisitions, as well as do whatever it takes to help his team succeed every night, and contend for a championship.
Saying Good Bye to Kendrick and Nate: It’s hard to believe, but many Bostonians still think Ainge shouldn’t have pulled the trigger last February to release Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson because they would have helped the Celtics defeat the Miami Heat in May.
Yet, how do these fans or followers know that Perkins and Robinson were the answer?
Boston managed to win 15 of their final 27 contest, but relied heavily on Allen, Garnett and Pierce because Green and Krstic, who were the players that Boston and Oklahoma swapped, didn’t exactly comprehend Doc Rivers’ playbook.
The Celtics bench, which Ainge rebuilt after the trade, couldn’t compliment the starters play, which was obviously frustrating. However, let’s admit that Ainge once again gambled, and came up short, again.
Perkins, Robinson, and the Thunder reached the Western Conference Finals, but lost to the Dallas Mavericks, 4-1.
So, once again, I don’t think it’s fair to state that Ainge’s decision to trade Perkins and Robinson was the demise of the 2010-2011 Celtics or future teams, but once again, another gamble that he felt would improve Boston’s chances.
In Rondo, We Trust: Say what you want about Rondo, but seriously, he’s the future of Boston basketball, and if the Celtics are going to continue their winning ways or at least attempt to remain competitive in the near future, then he’s going to be Ainge’s building block.
Boston will eventually be forced to replace Allen, Garnett and Pierce, which means Rondo will have to play his best basketball every night, as well as imitate his Game 3 performance against the Heat from this past May, which was when he dislocated his elbow.
If Rondo can be more aggressive, attack the rim, and keep his wits about himself, then expect the Celtics to succeed. However, if his old, immature ways return, then assume that Boston will be forced to rebuild once their current squad walks off into the sun.
I think Rondo can be a great asset for the Celtics, especially in the near future. But, I also think many will certainly ponder the question — what if Ainge had pulled the trigger, and acquired Chris Paul?