All right, simple question -- what now? Where do we go from here?
Just kidding. That's not a simple question at all. Not in the slightest. The Celtics have a long, difficult summer of soul-searching ahead of them. They were just eliminated from the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in six games, and there are legitimate questions about what this team and its two aging leaders have left for the future.
Will Paul Pierce retire this summer? Will Kevin Garnett? Will Doc Rivers be back to coach Pierce, KG and the rest of the guys? Right now, we have a lot of questions and not many answers. Here's what the guys had to say tonight, in the wake of their season-ending 88-80 loss at the hands of the New York Knicks.
Pierce on his future: "I definitely expect to be playing next year."
Pierce on the team's future: "That's up to Danny [Ainge] now. I have no idea. It's a decision for the management. Who knows what the future will bring? I've been here 15 years, and I've seen a lot of changes every single year. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of changes here."
Garnett on his future: "I haven't really thought about it, to be honest with you. I'm still kind of digesting. Doc pulled Paul and me aside and all three of us agreed to talk later. We just had a big game, a tough loss, especially at home. There's a different day for that conversation."
Garnett on what will influence his decision: "One of the big reasons I came here was because of Paul. I want to always be able to help the team, not only physically but from a skill level standpoint, but I'd be lying if I said Paul didn't play into it as a factor. But it's too soon for that conversation for me right now."
Doc on Garnett: "Kevin limped into the playoffs and then played, and he was unbelievable. He's as tough of a guy and as tough of a competitor as I've ever been around. He was rebounding and just doing everything for this team. I really didn't want him to go out that way on our court. I just didn't want it. Obviously we lost to a better team, but for him in particular, I just didn't want him to go out that way. But he's a winner. He's the best I've seen."
Doc on Pierce: "He's one of the greatest Celtics to ever play. He's done so much for this franchise, Paul has. We live in a time when guys are changing teams like socks, and Paul has chosen to stay here throughout his career when clearly, he had every right to leave. I have so much respect for him for that. When I first got here, we were really rebuilding. I remember telling him we were going to change our team, and things wouldn't go well for a year or two. And they didn't, but Paul never wavered. I give him an amazing amount of respect. He wanted to get it done here. I hope he's remembered for that. And I hope he comes back. But I just don't know anything right now."
Doc on his own future: "I don't know that right now. I can't make that decision. I'm under contract, but we'll see. I honestly can't think about that right now. I don't know. I [reevaluate] every year. If I had to tell you right now? I'm coming back. But I need to detox and then we'll find that out later."
Jeff Green on the team as a whole: "If I had a wish, everybody would be back and healthy. The way we started. Everybody healthy. Oh, man. We battled all season with injuries, guys getting hurt, guys being in and out of the lineup. A lot of adversity we played through. But if I had one wish for next year, it's everybody back and healthy, we have our full roster."
There you have it. Take a few minutes and look it over. Read, reread, digest, process.
Now what do you think? What does the future hold for this team?