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Danny Ainge is Waiting on Talking Future with Kevin Garnett

Yesterday was a good day in Boston. We found out Doc Rivers would definitely be coming back as a head coach, the Bruins won in overtime, and the Sox had a big comeback as well.

As the first big decision of the Celtics offseason came in though, a brighter light begins to shine down now on Danny Ainge and the rest of the decisions he has to make this offseason, as well as the chain effects they may cause. Yesterday, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald caught up with Ainge in Chicago at the NBA Draft Combine, who gave him some candid thoughts on the future of both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Ainge comparing this summer to last summer: “Last summer we had a lot of different scenarios that we could have gone into,” Ainge said yesterday as he watched the NBA pre-draft combine. “Once KG came back, there was only one scenario. It took all the A-through-Z scenarios and took it down to one quick decision.

“I don’t think this year is quite that simple, because I think that we have to do more regardless. With Paul or KG or without them based on their decisions, we have to do more. So I just don’t think it’s going to be as simple as bringing our team back.”

Ainge on KG’s impending decision to come back or retire: “We’re moving forward no matter what. Right now we’re preparing for the draft, and then we’ll prepare for free agency. But somewhere along the time, I will have a conversation with Kevin. I don’t know when that will happen. But I want Kevin to take some time and think about it. I’m not making any decisions over the next week, so at some point we’ll have that conversation.”

On making a decision on what to do with Pierce/KG: “I think that I have to base my decision on basketball things only,” Ainge said. “Listen, I love those guys and I owe a lot to them. They know that, and we know that. And I think there’s a chance that they come back together, but I have to base our decisions on basketball and what’s best for us and the continuity of our franchise.”

Lots of great stuff from Bulpett (I encourage you to read the full piece) that gives you perspective on how Ainge is approaching this offseason. A couple other items of note from Bulpett’s piece.

-Assistant GM and lead counsel Mike Zarren TURNED DOWN that the Sixers GM job. It was the second straight year Philadelphia had gone after him. Guy is a Celtics lifer….or maybe he just wisely didn’t want to deal with Andrew Bynum. Either way, Celtics are far better off having him.

-Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe reports that Paul Pierce’s family is preparing for possible relocation. That’s less news, and more of just a reality of the situation. Does it mean Pierce is getting traded? No. It’s just an acknowledgement the possibility definitely exists.

  • hax

    Danny should just try getting Paul & KG to re-do their contracts to 1 year $5 million deals. They have both made 100+ million in their career, I don't see them being greedy if it keeps the group together for a last stand run at the title. Jefferson, Millsap, Ellis, etc. are all free agents and the Celtics can get one by restructuring KG & PP's deals, and trading away some underperforming, overpayed bench players. Pierce has less value now than he had at the trade deadline. At the deadline, the warriors rejected an offer for harrison barnes for pierce. Yeah that guy that eats minutes and does nthing for the GS Warriors. If we can't get good pieces back, it's just not worth trading.

    • check12check

      i love the idea, but i seem to remember reading somewhere that under the rules of how contracts work in the nba it's not possible. someone correct me if i am wrong.

  • nfrench88

    Unfortunately, Danny is left with the decision to either pay Pierce his full $15 million, or waive him with a $5 million buyout. There is no salary re-negotiation that can be done :(

  • elroz

    How about trimming the fat instead? JET, Crawford, D.J. White, come up to $9 million. They can package them in a trade.
    With a back-court of RR, Bradley, Lee, T. Williams, they don't need JET and Crawford – both poor defenders. And with Green destined to take more minutes, they could have Pierce play some SG if needed. They basically have 4.5 guards if they get rid of JET and Crawford. At worst, they can just save $9 mil. and ride out this season – with Rondo on the floor, Pierce will not have to do everything and become exhausted. Or they can sign or trade for somebody: if it comes to a big man, they can also throw in Fab and free up another $1.2 million. Plus 16th pick is coming..and this is the highest they had since 2007.
    Things are ok.

    • Jim

      I agree that trimming the fat makes sense but seriously who would trade for those guys? Most likely no one.

  • The Cardinal

    This off season is going to be a tough one for Danny, and the peanut gallery (including myself, natch) will find something to howl about regardless of what happens.

    There are quite a few variables, but I'm betting if KG feels healthy, he returns for no other reason than he has to be pissed off that his arch rival with the Spurs had a real resurgence this season and the sonafagun is most likely going to end up in the NBA finals.

    I believe Danny is willing to trade Pierce for the right package (whatever that is) but if no beneficial trade opportunity arises, I think we will be willing bring Pierce back since we would definitely be worse off without PP and without getting a couple of pieces of value in return. The variable in this equation is suppose Doc and Danny inform Pierce that they project him as the 6th man rather than a starter? Then Pierce may tell them he prefers to be bought out, and I think Danny would agree to do it.

    Honestly, I'm hoping at least three or four guys from this season's roster make some big leaps, that we actually acquire someone through the draft or trade that can help the team immediately, and that with the exception of KG and possibly PP, we continue with the youth movement and try to trade Terry.

  • fabzzz

    You don't even have to read between the lines: Danny wants to get on the rebuild. "We’re moving forward no matter what" sounds like he's not gonna try to jimmy-rig a team together like he has the last couple of seasons. I expect him to do whatever he can to wipe the slate clean, even if it means being a lottery team next year, or the year after.

    I hope Danny is smart enough to know that this team, as constituted, is a 1st round exit for the next two, three years. That is the absolute worst position to be in in the NBA.

    What choices do we have, though? That's why he's a GM and not me (and for so many other reasons, too). Right now I would say 50/50 PP returns.

    • check12check

      i completely agree that we are a first round out as we stand and like you said there is no worse place to be in the NBA

    • Jim

      I agree also that being a first round exit is a terrible place for us to end up. I think it is time for us to sadly let Paul Pierce go to a contender where he can have another shot at a ring. I personally have had a hard time watching this team and the style of their play. Rondo controls the ball too much, Pierce always is the one with the ball when the game is on the line etc.,etc. Please do not make us go through another season with Bradley trying to be a point guard. I am not so sure he is an NBA starter. He is not a good enough shooter to be a two guard. The team is in the worst possible place . Mediocore.

  • Marko

    I'd like to see us get rid of Jet and others but if we don't want them I can't see us getting anything better in return. Cutting them does not really help cap either.

  • guest

    I think Paul and KG bring more to the table than one would think. Redoing their contract for the benefit of acquiring some great talent like Al Jefferson and or Josh Smith while shedding other unbeneficial player contracts would seem to make more sense and continue a strong core with great leadership.

  • GymRat

    I don't know why renegotiating PP and KG's contracts keeps being suggested as a possibility. It's just now how the NBA works. The negotiating of contracts is over once they are signed. End of story.

    It really sounds like KG is the real lynchpin to everything. If he decides to come back I can see Ainge keeping Pierce. But I would bet if KG decides to retire, PP is on the trading block immediately. Even with Rondo and Sully back, without KG, you are in a rebuild.

    I hope KG decides to stay. The league just won't be the same without him.

  • Chief

    @gymrat yep you nailed it, KG is the lynchpin but if PP doesn’t return then he’s pretty much done.
    Me personally i would rather wait til next season after PP contract is up and then rebuild.

  • hax

    The bench gave the team little this year. Getting rid of any expensive bench pieces can free the team up a lot of money. Having young, energetic undrafted rookies on minimum salaries isn't that bad of a thing for this bench. Anyone who watches smaller div-1 colleges play in their conference tournaments & the NCAA Tournament see guys who have some really good talent. Enough skills to hold the court for 10 minutes in a game. Rondo-Bradley-Green-Bass-Garnett is still a pretty nice starting 5. Pierce & young guys off the bench is better than watching Jet shoot and miss over and over and over.

  • ghoulbuns

    If Doc would quit running PP into the ground hed be an incredible asset to this team, even off the bench. Rondo, Sully, PP, KG, Green, Bradley…is a good bunch to start with. Id say keep Randolph, T Will and re-sign Barbosa. The rest are trade fodder. Lee, JET, Crawford, White & Wilcox are gone…Id say give Oden a chance and see what you can get by moving the rest…i know its more complicated than that, but thats what Id like to see happen. Remember that the more this core plays together, the better theyll be. Hell, everyone hated on Uncle Jeff the firat half of the season, and Rondo and Bradley never had a chance to grow this season.