There might still be a lot of playoffs games left yet for these 2012 Boston Celtics, or there might only be one. Either way, the team faces some incredibly huge decisions in the next couple of months. This team could look very much like it does now next season. It could also look almost completely different. Here I am going to explore how this famously ancient team of creaky veterans could become one of the youngest in the league, in three reasonably plausible steps.
Three plausible steps that could result in the aging Celtics becoming one of the youngest teams around:
1) KG decides to retire OR signs somewhere else in the off-season. This is the least likely and hardest to imagine of the three steps, but it is nonetheless plausible. If the Celtics can't at least make the Finals this season, considering all of the injuries to the Celtics' biggest rivals in the Eastern Conference, when will the team have a better chance while KG is still able to play?
It wouldn't altogether shock me if KG chose to hang it up, or maybe give it one last shot somewhere else (like Dallas). It's possible the parting might be mutual -- if the team sputters despite having a relatively easy road to the Finals, Danny might look to rebuild.
Ray Allen would almost certainly leave in this scenario, as well.
2) If KG leaves, the Cs will be in rebuild-on-the-fly mode. Does Pierce have a place on a rebuilding team, at this point in his career? Not really, unless you want to pay him $15 million to be the veteran leader of an 8th seed. Though everybody involved probably wishes Pierce be a Celtic for life, it may not be practical. After all, Pierce can always re-sign with the Celtics when he's really done and retire in green. Until then, he might be a lot happier playing for higher stakes on a different team. From the Celtics perspective, the rebuilding effort could get a quick jumpstart if the Cs could get a pick in the mid to late lottery of this year's deep, deep draft in return for Pierce.
Here's an idea for such a deal:
Pierce + Bass (sign and trade) + pick #21
Wes Matthews + Portland's pick #11
That pick could then turn into a high-potential guy who has fallen a bit -- like Jared Sullinger. Take a guy like Tony Wroten at #22 and an athletic wing in the second round (e.g. Kris Joseph), and we're off and running (literally).
3) Using the Celtics' prodigious cap space, they sign a young back-up point guard whose stock is down from playing on a terrible team (D.J. Augustin), a tall, long, athletic young big man who has the tools to thrive playing next to a guy like Rondo (Jason Thompson) and bring back a slew of familiar faces (Jeff Green, Greg Stiemsma, Pietrus, Wilcox, Hollins).
What does all of that leave us with? One of the youngest rosters in the league, with some considerable room for growth, and plenty of depth (a.k.a. weapons for Rondo).
Rondo / Augustin / Moore
Bradley / Wroten / Pietrus
Green / Matthews / Joseph
Sullinger / Johnson / Wilcox
Thompson / Stiemsma / Hollins
Not a championship contender, but I'd be excited to watch that team. Sky's the limit.