Last man standing?
I'll start this out by pointing out that this isn't anyone's first option. The option that everyone wants to do is to rebuild on the fly or at least squeeze another year or so out of some of the Big 3. Considering the lack of big ticket free agent options, the Celtics best shot is sticking with the Big Ticket himself, Kevin Garnett.
With all that said, there's a chance that Garnett will just decide to call it a career. That would leave the Celtics best options moot. Also, to play devil's advocate or contrarian or whatever you want to call it - isn't there some logic to the idea of starting over regardless? Even if KG wanted to come back, is it at all reasonable to expect another year like the one he just had? Wouldn't it make sense for everyone to quit while we're ahead? And if this team is going to have to rebuild someday, why not start the process sooner rather than later?
Regardless of who makes the call, it stands to reason that without Kevin Garnett, this team is looking at a major overhaul this offseason. Paul Pierce is threatening to hang it up and might just do so if he can't play meaningful games. Of course he'd be giving up $16M per, but that's his call, not mine. Lastly, can anyone really picture Rondo being all that happy with a total rebuild? He already has had problems with getting motivated for regular season games and gets ornery with Hall of Famers being out of position. Do you think he has the patience for the next generation of Gerald Greens and 50 loss seasons?
So there's always the nuclear option to consider. Here's a look into what that might mean.
If KG hangs it up, he's just riding off into the sunset. I think if that happens, the dominoes begin to fall and Ray Allen picks a new home and Paul Pierce has a long, frank conversation with management that ends up with him suggesting strongly that he'd like to play for a contender like the Bulls or maybe even his hometown Clippers. The Celtics were reportedly ready to deal him at the deadline for a first round pick. If they could get that for him (for this draft or the next one) I think they would (again, assuming the nuclear option).
The next order of business would be to deal Rondo for a young player with excellent upside and a lottery pick. They might have to take on some salary to make it happen too, but that would be fine since the Celtics would actually need to hand out some cash in order to reach the salary cap floor (did you realize there was such a thing?).
Clearly Ainge would start tossing money after quality restricted free agents like Roy Hibbert, if only to make the Pacers have to match. Then it all comes down to drafting. In fact, with a slew of picks, it would behoove the Celtics to look into trading up to get into the lottery and maybe even the top 5. See, a rebuilding process doesn't succeed unless you can find a future star. You could argue that we've got one in Rondo, but again, I'm just not sure he could stomach this process or thrive in it.
Some familiar faces might still be around. Chris Wilcox and Brandon Bass are still young enough to be valuable to the team long term. Avery Bradley is a given and a solid building block. Greg Stiemsma, with a little seasoning, some healthy feet, and quality time with Doc, might be a solid center for years to come.
Beyond that though, we're talking about kids, losses, and endless upside potential. You know, all the things we were happy to not have to deal with during the Big 3 era. And if they can't build into a contender in the OKC model, we'll always have the option of trading our assets for the next Big 3 that become available (yeah, it isn't that easy, but still).
So, it isn't pretty, it isn't very fun, and it isn't a sure-fire way to succeed. But it is an option that could work and it is an option that Danny and company have to seriously ponder if the first and second options don't pan out.