Things to think on entering this offseason
Long-Term thinking for this Celtics team while maintaining a short-term dividend has been the gist of every message board poster for this team. The draft has been the major focus, direction has come into question, and the draft has been debated and will continue to grow in fervor. Some People are still debating whether or not trading Paul Pierce is the smart long-term decision, incidentally coinciding with Pierces return, which has sprung everyone else game even while his is rusty.
It seems that the argument for all Celtics fans is about time lines. Itâ€™s clear that the team has some talent, but its not clear how great that talent may be. There are the factors of Pierceâ€™s age to weigh against the youthâ€™s potential for certain, but heâ€™s proven to be such a difference maker for ALL the player on the team. Even though Pierce may be turning 30, his contract value shouldnâ€™t exceed his production value for quite some time, and that has to factor into peopleâ€™s thinking when assessing how the organization is going to analyze there own short â€"term/long-term projections.
Consider Pierce's playing value on his NEXT contract. Think about a 34 year old Pierce re-upping for about 7 million a year while sliding into the backseat of the Jefferson/Green run Celtics. He is still going to be a productive player, say 17 pts, 7brds 4asts...his passing and other secondary skills will be more valuable and he'll harness them as his scoring load is reduced and ability to play on-ball diminished. Pierce is capable of playing off of others for much longer than heâ€™s capable of being the focal point, and that should extend out his worth substantially as a team leader and contributor.
I'd say building with Pierce as the Celticsâ€™ 3rd best player is about 5 years and that doesn't count the draft pick of this year or its requisite trade value...Pierce as 4th best player? 6 or 7 years is not hard to imagine. Guys are playing longer and the best players who approach the game with equal aggression each and every year become the longest standing players. Pierce can play quality ball until he's 37-38 years old by posting, going to the line with up fakes, and simply crashing the glass and making plays OFF of others...
The only question in my mind is what does the team do if the pick is outside the top 2? Trading for one of KG, JO, and Pau is feasible with our loose contracts and the draft pick. But, does the team want to part with major prospects? Obviously Jefferson is not in play, but the pick, Gerald Green and Rajon Rondo probably look enticing to a few, as do Gomes and West. It could take 3 of those players to land KG or JO-Bird wont let Danny have him cheap-Pau is feasible with less, say West and Green plus the pick and I can't say that's worth it considering the pick plus Jefferson and Green is probably better than Jefferson plus Pau in the near future...
Any trade that happens is going to be dependant on the draft pick the team holds. A selection of Oden or Durant allows the team to make a lesser trade to acquire a quality vet. There are so many past All Stars on the market this year it'll be a buyers market for some of these guys, especially for the hold outs. Who think theyâ€™ll get a desperate offer for their player and end up taking less.
Pau could easily stay in Memphis, with Chaunceyâ€™s talk of joining up and the sure-fire prospect of adding a top 2 pick themselves could easily give Jerry West the ammo he needs to keep Pau content as well. But, his availability will stall negotiations with other teams around the league who will be burning up the wires from April onward trying to get a battle plan ready full of contingencies. With only 8-12 teams even having an arguable compensation package for the top vets available, the more surfing is done the more chance a team gets left short-selling.
Getting Oden/Durant gives the team options that don't include one of Rondo/Green which makes things much nicer from a fans perspective. Jason Kidd's as good as in LA, but Bibby should be at the bottom of the totem pole for trade acquisitions, amazing when you consider his past performance and the situations surrounding this season for the Kings. There are some outlying point guards who may be available, but donâ€™t expect Chauncey Billups name to come around Boston, so picking up an â€œimpactâ€ player here isnâ€™t tremendous. Teams will treat it like that, Billups will be courted heavily, but Kidd is a niche fit now, at 34 heâ€™s looking to go to a team thatâ€™s in a position to win now.
Having to trade for a vet without getting Oden/Durant makes the urgency to consider a mega-trade for KG/JO/Pau more probable. The team has been scouting bigs in this draft intently, as has every other team smart enough to know that a tandem front court of skill and size puts most any team above two-thirds of the rest. It can be an end-game move toward establishing cornerstones for the long-hall.
But, the vet bigs have the same type of thing going for them that Pierce does in terms of there ability to age gracefully and contribute deeper into there careers then just there prime. Pau is young at 26, so swan songs aren't in order there. But KG is 31 going into next season and I still expect him to be rebounding, defending, and passing the ball well past his 35th birthday.
JO will shotblock and hit jumpers for any team he plays for until he hangs 'em up. Less wear, less injuries when on a team with 2 other stars. This is what you get from potential HoF players. You see it all the time. The best find a way to contribute...and 20 million dollar salaries go away before the skills do. Re-signing players like this to 3 year extentions to enjoy those Shaq and Reggie days is always a good thing.
Keeping Pierce should be a clear no-brainer. But pleasing Pierce and settling on a decision will be the toughest task of this offseason.
I assure you that some decision will be made and all the options point to a brighter future going forward through this off season and into the next. Even if you don't understand the NBA Trade Market very well the shear number of quality vets available and the relative paucity of teams that have the available resources to trade for them should be enough to recognize the Celtics position.