teammates? - David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
Putting aside the emotional reaction for a moment - what could a post-blow-up Celtics team look like if the rumors are true?
The thing about last night's Wojo article that gave me the most pause was the report that Danny Ainge is "eager" to get the deal with the Clippers done. If he's that eager to move KG, then he's probably doing everything he can to move Paul Pierce as well. He hasn't always been successful in the past (see last year's deadline and every Rajon Rondo rumor under the sun) but you have to give it good odds of happening if he's pushing that hard.
I almost can't fathom the emotional side of that right now, so I'm going to table that for a moment and take a look at how we might look after these supposed trades go down.
First, it seems pretty straightforward that the deal between the Clippers and Celtics will involve Kevin Garnett waiving his no-trade clause and being exchanged for Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan. There may be spare parts or picks involved but that's the principle deal.
Next it sounds like Paul Pierce could be headed somewhere (Memphis?) as part of a three way deal that sends Josh Smith to the Celtics. Again, there might be an additional body coming back to match salaries and who knows what third team might be involved (as long as it isn't the Lakers please - oh wait, I'm not supposed to be emotional in this) but that's the basic outline of the rumored deal.
So where does that leave us? You know, aside from mourning an era.
We'd have a second star-potential player in Josh Smith to put next to his buddy Rajon Rondo for the foreseeable future (assuming he signs an extension). We'd have a young (if expensive) center in DeAndre Jordan who can play defense and catch alley-oops. Then there's Eric Bledsoe, who might be good enough to start on most teams that don't feature Rondo or Chris Paul. He'd be the stand-in starter this year, but what happens next year? Well, he could either be flipped for another asset or kept around as Rondo's best-ever backup and insurance against Rondo missing some games or even getting traded.
So next year's starting lineup could be Rondo, Avery Bradley, Josh Smith, Jared Sullinger, and DeAndre Jordan. The second unit would be comprised of Eric Bledsoe, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox. Jason Terry would either be traded (for cap flexibility) or kept around for veteran leadership and added bench scoring. Of course for the rest of the year we'd have Bledsoe and Bass filling in as starters and at some point down the line Fab Melo might develop into something useful.
I'm not sure if that's a championship squad, but it does at least sound like a competitive one. Depending on how each of the younger players develops, it could have a high ceiling. That is the key too, it is a younger team (without being lottery bound young) that could grow together as the next generation. "Window" talk would finally be at an end and the chatter would shift to "potential."
That team, when properly coached and motivated, could play some very good defense. Perhaps not Kevin Garnett level defense, but we've been a bit spoiled by him for years now. They could also play some very good offense, in particular in transition. Imagine Rondo lobbing passes to Smith, Green, and Jordan on the break.
Of course the flipside is that this team would have flaws. Jordan isn't known for his offensive polish and Josh Smith has had issues with shot selection for years now. Defenses might collapse due to the lack of long range shooters in the starting lineup. Will Rondo feel threatened by Bledsoe's presence or encouraged by his buddy Josh Smith? Who's the go-to scorer on that team (Smith has always had someone else to take the big shots)?
Then there's the whole financial aspect that I don't have the time or patience to look at right now. Suffice to say that Smith, Jordan, and Green could all be expensive cap hits (probably considered overpaid) and we'd have to look at extending Rajon Rondo in a year in an environment where the owners would be motivated to avoid the super-tax penalties. But that's another problem for another day.
So, is this the vision of Danny Ainge? Is that what he's working towards this week? We'll find out soon enough. Personally, all things considered I'm still against trading Pierce or Garnett, but if we have to blow up the team, I suppose we could do worse than what's being talked about right now.