With no Celtics games for another five months, this week we’ll turn our attention to a retrospective of the the 2012-13 season, including looking at the best and worst games of the year and providing our final grades for every player on the roster.
We’ll also look at the questions facing Danny Ainge as he recasts the roster for next fall. Soon after that, we’ll turn our attention to the draft and free agency. And we’ll finally launch the long-gestating CelticsHub podcast. So, stay tuned. We’re not going anywhere.
In the meantime, there are a number of worthwhile pieces you should read in the wake of Boston’s loss last night.
Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports put a period at the end of the Kevin Garnett era, suggesting both he and Pierce have played their final games as Celtics:
Boston can buy out the final year on Paul Pierce’s contract for $5 million – or pay him $15 million to play the season. Or trade him, and let someone else do it. The Celtics will work hard to move him in a package deal that includes a young player or a draft pick. Once Pierce goes, they know Garnett’s decision will be easy.For three years, there’s been uncertainty about the Celtics’ direction. General manager Danny Ainge pushed hard for deals involving Garnett and Pierce at the February trade deadline, but nothing materialized. This time, Rivers knew the ending was different, that the likelihood of this coach and his core returning together is dim.
“There’s more doubt with everything,” Rivers told Yahoo! Sports. “We don’t know what we’re doing, but also we don’t know what [Garnett's] doing. It’s different this year, there’s no doubt about that.”
Over at ESPN Boston, Jackie MacMullan has a variation on the same theme:
Rivers became emotional when discussing Garnett and the pain he endured while fighting off injuries to his ankles, his hip (a “minor” injury that was aggravated in Game 4) and at least one other undisclosed ailment.
“KG is the best,” Rivers said. “Just the best. His knowledge is amazing. … He’s what, 37? And he’s still one of the best in the league.
“He’s different. Different than any star I’ve ever been around. You can’t take him for granted, and we never ever have.”
Garnett reiterated Friday night his future might be tied to what the Celtics decide to do regarding Pierce. He said his coach pulled the two of them aside at the end of the game and “all three of us agreed to speak later. Too emotional.”
Team sources said KG might undergo offseason surgery to shave down the bone spurs in his ankles, an operation that is not viewed as a major procedure. Two of his teammates privately speculated he is considering retirement.
At CBS Sports, Ken Berger isn’t convinced Garnett is done:
The moment caught on camera, with audio, when Garnett checked out of the game on Friday night was telling. As KG came to the sideline, Rivers embraced him and asked, “You good?” And Garnett said, “Yup.” To which Rivers said, “I love ya.” It sure seemed like a good-bye, but was it? Garnett is guaranteed $12.4 million next season and $6 million in 2014-15. A buyout for Garnett this summer would do the Celtics no good; his money would remain on their cap and tax ledgers. A trade would require a team with cap room to be close enough to contention to take on a soon-to-be 37-year-old Hall of Famer — and it would require Garnett to waive his no-trade clause. You have to look pretty far down the list of teams with cap room to find one for which KG would be willing to waive his no-trade — if any.
Retirement? Garnett’s money would be wiped off the Celtics’ books if he decided to retire. But despite the hundreds of millions Garnett has made in his brilliant career, does anyone see him leaving $18.4 million on the table? I don’t.
Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated notes the imprint the Garnett-led Celtics made on the other elite teams in the NBA over the last six years:
The takeaway of this game, this series and the last six years altogether had everything to do with Garnett’s impact on the Celtics and opponents who were forced to measure up. The Celtics’ victory in the 2008 NBA Finals revealed weaknesses in the Lakers that Kobe Bryant was able to tighten on their way to championships in the next two years. LeBron James became a champion because he knew that the Celtics were going to keep exposing him otherwise. Anthony was the latest star to be forced to raise his standards. “You have to deal with him emotionally, physically, mentally, and then with his talent,” Rivers said.
“He changed it. He changed our whole way,” Rivers went on, referring to Garnett in the past tense. “I can preach it all day, but when you have a guy walking the walk (of) what you’re saying, your franchise changes. Every new guy that came in here, even vets — stars — who came in, from Shaq on, they had to change a little bit around Kevin.”