Back when Danny put this Big 3 team together, he appeared to have a 3 year plan/window. The result: 1 Championship and two trips to the Finals. Consider me thrilled with those results. However, we're headed into year 4 and this was a critical offseason for Ainge. Nobody knew exactly what he was going to do (and to be fair, neither did he because there were some things out of his control). Now we are starting to get a feel for what Danny is planning for the next 3 years.
First of all, you have to make a few assumptions about the following years. Here are the one's I'm operating under.
- Paul, KG, and Ray have at least one good year left in them. Maybe two.
- The lockout is coming. We may lose half a season or a full one.
- Regardless of what the new CBA looks like, cap room and expiring contracts are a good thing to have going forward.
With those assumptions in place, I think Ainge has already acomplished many of his objectives. Pierce will be a Celtic for life (albeit an overpaid one by the end of his deal - but that's life). Doc is back for one more year and will have a built-in sabatical/vacation during the lockout year. And perhaps best of all: Ainge will have about $37M (and counting) in expiring contracts during the lockout year. Lets take these one by one.
Does Pierce have 4 quality seasons left in him? Doubtful, but I think barring injury he can be very, very good next year for us. Same goes for Ray and Garnett. The next year will be a lockout year. If we lose a season that stinks but it doesn't hurt us any more than it does the whole league. If we get to play a shortened season, who does that benefit? Older, experienced teams that have played together for a while and won't need much time to gel.
If that team isn't looking like it will repeat then you have lots of expiring contracts to offer up to teams reacting to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). They'll want to get under the new cap and react to the new rules regardless of what they are.
Then the Celtics will move into the Rondo prime years with Pierce playing the role of grizzled veteran that everyone loves. Just in time for Ainge to come up with another new 3 year plan.