Remember this summer when we were all giddy about the prospect this team? It was the deepest, most talented roster than Ainge had put together in the Big Three era. With its mixture of cagey veterans, young versatile talent, and Rajon Rondo, the sky was the limit. Unfortunately, the season was derailed by unexpected injuries and longer-than-expected chemistry to brew. The team was under .500. Garnett hinted at retirement. People started clamoring for Danny to blow it up. Better to get some value back on these investments, right?
Like a good GM, Ainge looked under every rock. By all accounts, Danny made calls and took calls from everyone. Maybe he was never truly faced with the decision to either re-tool the team for a championship run this season vs. scrapping the plan and bringing in a new generation of Celtics. We'll never know. In a couple of years, there will be the regret mongers that will troll the fan forums with "WE COULD HAVE HAD ERIC BLEDSOE, DEANDRE JORDAN, AND JOSH SMITH!!!," but we don't know what the future holds. Even with those players, that doesn't guarantee anything. Just as McHale quipped earlier this week, "I've never seen Cap Room score a bucket," Up Side has never won a championship. And maybe it's just me, but the biggest proponents to getting rid of Pierce and Garnett always seemed like ring collectors to me, people who cared more about the champagne than the blood, sweat, and tears. There will be other trade deadlines, other drafts, other summer moves, and other training camps. We can have this argument all over again and again and again.
But for the faithful who still believe in this team now, we still have KG and we still have The Captain. I can't imagine this team without them. We'll go into the final third of the season and the playoffs with a fractured rotation that doesn't include Rondo, Sullinger, and Barbosa, but we'll have that championship swagger that comes with Garnett and Pierce. The fight in the dog will always be bigger than the dog in the fight with our current roster and although that may not be comforting for those of you hoping for post-season success, understand that this roster was always meant for a 2-3 year window. Maybe Danny didn't make any sweeping changes to the roster, but that doesn't mean the team isn't "rebuilding." On the contrary, we've already seen vast improvements this year that will help next year: Jeff Green has found his confidence, Courtney Lee got his groove back, and Avery Bradley has regained his form after his shoulder surgeries.
I might be in the minority here, but I think this team could shock the Heat and the Knicks in the first round. If the standings don't change and we finish as a 7th or 8th seed, I'd love to draw Miami or New York. In a seven game series with no back-to-backs, there's no doubt in my mind that the Celtics could win a bar fight against these two teams.
To borrow a popular phrase from trade season: who says no?