Over the past 24 hours, the entire Boston Celtics organization has fought their way through a tough emotional roller coaster. Now that the dust has settled and the reality of the situation is starting to set in, it’s time for GM Danny Ainge to decide how he’s going to pick up the pieces.
There’s really no way around it anymore – despite what people close to the Celtics have to say about it, the Celtics just can’t contend for a championship with Rajon Rondo on the sidelines. Boston was headed in this direction regardless of what happened to Rondo. In truth, they should have arrived to this inescapable, gut-wrenching conclusion years ago. The ACL injury that’s going to sideline Rondo for the next 8-12 months simply sped up that process. It put the spoiled, rotten cherry on the month-old cake.
Ainge doesn’t have to completely blow things up, per se, but unless he starts to dramatically retool and most importantly add some youth, the problems are only going to get worse from here. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are both now on the wrong side of 35 while Doc Rivers emotional hold on his players has already lost half the traction it used to have.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix for the problems facing the Boston Celtics. And Danny Ainge knows that. Here’s what he said to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
In our situation, you can’t just philosophically say, ‘We’re going to do this.’ You have to tell me what it is. You have to tell me what opportunities we have. Here’s the thing: If I wanted to say, ‘Hey, let’s play for the future,’ that’s hard to do. And if I play only for the ‘here and now,’ that’s hard to do. I’m going to look and see what opportunities are there, like any other year. Last year, I was close to making a change that I felt would give us a better chance in the here and now, and in the future. And those are hard to do. Draft picks are hard to come by now.
The Celtics GM, who has pulled the trigger on more than a few deals over the Big 3′s tenure in Boston, is right. He’s got some tough decisions to make, an inexplicable amount of emotional baggage to deal with and no matter which direction the organization heads in, one thing is certain: It’s going to be hard.
That’s the thing with sports though. Moments like this remind us that even for the guys at the top, “business as usual” transcends the ever-so-diffusive emotional barrier that sports fans often seem to consider as concrete. Adding on to the burden of Ainge is that even in strict basketball terms, these decisions are hard to make. Clouded by the fact that humanity can’t just turn off its “caring about people” switch, it’s easy to see why the Celtics aren’t about to jump the gun on anything.
This is what he said to the Boston Herald:
Right now I’m looking to give the guys we have a chance to play,” he said. “Then we’ll see what happens in the next few weeks… Ainge said he expects Rondo to be ready for the start of training camp next season.
Prudence, patience. On paper, it’s hard to go wrong preaching those two things. This is real life though, where reality is much more murky and decisions are often as calculated as they are whimsical.