Pierce will likely be back, who will join him?
The end of the era is here. The offseason we've all simultaneously dreaded and anticipated for so long is upon us. This group can't keep coming back forever. We saw last night that they simply don't have enough left to win a title as currently constituted and they won't get any younger over the summer.
Sure, there's a chance that the Celtics could bring back Ray Allen and more likely Kevin Garnett. But there's just as good of a chance that neither one comes back. This summer could seriously go in any number of directions. Danny Ainge has all the roster flexibility he could ever want. He has a chance to start a new era and my gut tells me that he's going to take that chance for all it is worth.
Paul Pierce is under contract and will have his number retired the day after he decides to hang up his sneakers for good. But if Ainge has a chance to deal him for a pick, I still think he would. I wouldn't like it, but I could see the rationale.
Rajon Rondo has taken the next step and proven that he's an out of this world talent that steps up his game when the lights are the brightest. He's a unique specimen and a winner. But would anyone be surprised to hear his name in trade rumors once again? He's hands down the best trade chip this team has. If they decide they don't want to "rebuild around Rondo" then he's gone. Just like that.
In short, if Ainge wants to go nuclear on this group, he'll have every opportunity to do so.
Or maybe I'm overreacting. Perhaps the most likely scenario is the easy road. Kevin Garnett could chose to re-sign. Ray Allen might test the free agent waters and decide that he'd rather just stick around here another year or two. Maybe Ainge makes a trade or two and signs a free agent or two and uses his 2 first round picks and calls it an offseason.
Avery Bradley will be back next year. There's a decent chance that we'll have Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox around as well. There's at least some hope that JaJuan Johnson could take an Avery Bradley like leap into the rotation next year. Would all those young legs help the veterans hang around long enough for another unlikely run? Stranger things have happened.
Finally, there may be some middle ground here as well. They might just let Ray Allen go (which by itself changes things considerably - make no mistake) but keep KG and Pierce around and try to gradually build a younger core of players starting with Rondo and Bradley. There's not much in the way of free agents on the market, but with cap space Ainge might get creative.
We just don't know but we won't have to wait too long to find out. In a matter of weeks we'll have the draft and it we'll know a lot more about Danny Ainge's blueprints for the next era. Ready or not (and I'm not sure I am) we're going to see some changes.