Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News has a source inside the Celtics confirming ownership has recently given Danny Ainge approval to move any of the Big Three:
But with Paul Pierce dealing with heel issues, Kevin Garnett fading, Ray Allen still effective shooting threes but headed for his 37th birthday and the Celtics 5-8 entering the weekend, the team’s owners gave GM Danny Ainge the official go-ahead to move any member of the troika.
“We’ve got to move on,” said one Celtics official. “Let’s face reality.”
When the lockout ended, Ainge and Doc Rivers believed they could squeeze one more title run out of their nucleus. But it hinged on a couple of other players. If Jeff Green played and they could sign David West , the Celtics figured they would help lighten the regular-season load for Pierce, Garnett and Allen.
But Green needed heart surgery and West, who had expressed an interest in signing in Boston, changed his mind when he wasn’t offered a deal that would have made him among the highest-paid players on the team. The offer would have made him the fourth-highest paid Celtic and West instead signed with Indiana.
Without Green or West, ownership finally conceded the team doesn’t have the quality reinforcements to make a deep run. Ainge says he won’t hesitate to trade off any member of the Big Three in the right deal. If he can find any takers.
If the Celtics counter this assertion, it wouldn’t be a surprise. And if no appealing trade presents itself, that would also be unsurprising. But the above appears to suggest that Ainge was ready to move on earlier and ownership was holding out to see if the Celtics could turn things around. And only recently has Ainge been given the nuclear launch codes.
As Brendan detailed earlier this week, the Celtics are in the soft part of their schedule with multiple games against Cleveland, Toronto and Washington (and Phoenix!). If they’re going to get things turned around, it has to be now. Because with their longest stretch of home games over (the C’s went 3-6, with all but one of those games being at the TD Garden) things only get uglier as the season goes on. Even if the Celtics get better.