Boston rebuilds for a fresh start


The 2013 off-season marked the end of a great era in Boston Celtics history. Six years after cashing in on their last rebuilding effort, Danny Ainge called for the start of the next one. Celtics fans hope these efforts yield the same championship results.

In 2007 the Celtics parlayed accumulated picks and young players to bring in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to compliment Paul Pierce. They became instant contenders. The trio led Boston to a 66-16 record, 42 more wins than the previous season, and won the NBA championship.

The Celtics again made the finals in 2010 but lost in seven games to the Lakers, surrendering a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter of the final game. Since then they have been in decline, albeit a slow one.

During the 2012 season, Rondo emerged as the Celtics go-to player. He and an aged “big three” pushed the Heat’s back against the wall in the Eastern Conference Finals as Lebron put the team on his back and brought them back from a 3-2 series defecit.

In 2013 the Celtics were never truly at full strength. Right as Avery Bradley worked his way back from shoulder surgery, Rondo went down with a torn ACL. Without Rondo, Pierce and Kevin Garnett were too far on the wrong side of 30 to lift the team any higher than a prideful first round exit. Soon after, they were traded to the Nets.

In an interview with, Danny Ainge explained why he traded celtics legend Paul Pierce along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets. “I think it just came to the point where those guys as the best two players on a team aren’t going to go very far.”

The NBA is a very top-heavy league and it’s easy to get stuck as a respectable team without any real chance of contending for the title. As teams hope to remain on the right side of .500, they often sign good-not-great free agents who limit options down the road financially.

Another reason teams get stuck in the middle is the NBA draft. The first few picks generally carry players with all-star potential and a high floor, but once you get into the late lottery you’re picking Jared Sullingers – relied on to be good, but rarely elite, or Gerald Greens – potentially awesome, potentially known best for dunk contest performances.

As a result a popular way to rebuild is to bottom out, hoping to stumble into a gamechanger in the draft. Another reason this is successful is you can ship off your long term, expensive contracts to teams who want to win in the short term, opening up options in free agency. It’s much easier to focus on your future when you bypass the present.

The other path to rebuilding is to stockpile assets, limit your bad contracts, and wait until you can package those assets in a trade and/or create an alluring enough foundation to entice a superstar free agent. The Celtics did this in ‘07, and the Rockets did it recently.

Despite a few bad contracts – Gerald Wallace three years, $30 million, Brandon Bass with two years $14 million – the Celtics future has some promise. When Rondo returns he will have young sidekicks in Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger. The addition of former Providence College standout Marshon Brooks could be the gem of the Nets trade.

The Celtics are a team in limbo. They have the talent to be a playoff team, but is maximizing results in 2013 in the Celtics best interest? We have Danny Ainge to rely on for those decisions. If nothing else, Celtics fans can count on him making those decisions with no emotional consideration.

Ainge told, “I’m not sure that [keeping Paul Pierce for his entire career was] what’s in the best interest of the Celtics, and I’ve stated that before.” It will be interesting to see which path Ainge takes with the rebuilding process, and if he can duplicate the results of the last one.