The result of the 2010 NBA Finals not only means the start of a dynasty for one but the end of an era for the other. The Los Angeles Lakers have just won back to back championships with its core group coming back next season. The Boston Celtics on the other hand look to enter another rebuilding phase.
In the summer of 2007, GM Danny Ainge made a series of moves that returned the Boston Celtics to prominence. He traded the Celtics’ 2007 #5 pick and Delonte West to Seattle for perennial all-star Ray Allen and second round pick Glen Davis. Ainge later traded Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, two first round picks, and some more players for former MVP Kevin Garnett. The trio of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett were immediately labeled as the “Big Three.”
Three years later, the Celtics have eight unrestricted free agents including Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Allen is the most likely to leave out of Boston’s core group. His $19.76 million salary is quite steep for a 35-year-old shooting guard that shot 36.7% from the field in the finals. Ainge was actually shopping Allen before the trade deadline this year but could not find any takers. Coach Doc Rivers even failed to mention Ray Allen when discussing which players will need to be re-signed in order to make another postseason run.
Kevin Garnett has kept the passion that he brought into the NBA fourteen years ago, but even Boston fans will admit that he has lost his explosiveness due to multiple knee injuries. Garnett has been unable to play a full season during his tenure as a Celtic. The power forward’s 2010-2011 salary will be $18.8 million.
Paul Pierce is set to make $21.5 million next season but has the option to enter the free agent market. Many NBA fans would agree that Pierce is a drama queen, but he’s not stupid. Expect Pierce to discover his options before making a decision. He knows that the Celtics are an aging group and will not be at the same competitive level as years past. If he finds an opportunity to join another team that will give him a better shot at the title he will take it.
Besides from the players, there is uncertainty with the coaching staff as well. Lead assistant and defensive guru Tom Thibodeau is already gone. He committed to the Chicago Bulls as their next head coach. Bigger than that, though, is the prospect that Rivers will leave, taking a long-sought sabbatical from coaching to enjoy his college- and high school-aged kids before they move on entirely.
General Manager, Danny Ainge, has a lot of work to do over the summer. They have many question marks regarding both players and coaches. So far, they only have six signed players already committed to make $63 million next season.