Boston Celtics vice president Danny Ainge said Wednesday that he would consider trading aging stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen if he could bring back young players who could keep the team in title contention.
Ainge told The Boston Globe that he didn't want the franchise to go through a drought similar to the one it experienced two decades ago when Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish got old.
In fact, Ainge told the Globe that former Celtics boss Red Auerbach had an opportunity to dramatically improve the team back then if he had decided to deal Bird and McHale in particular.
"I sat with Red (Auerbach) during a Christmas party (in the 1990s). Red was talking to Larry, Kevin and myself and there was a lot of trade discussion at the time and Red actually shared some of the trade discussions. And I told Red, 'What are you doing? Why are you waiting?'
"He had a chance to trade Larry (to Indiana) for Chuck Person and Herb Williams and (Steve) Stipanovich and he had a chance to trade Kevin (to Dallas) for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. I was like, 'Are you kidding?' I mean, I feel that way now. If I were presented with those kind of deals for our aging veterans, it’s a done deal to continue the success."
"We're going to make changes, no doubt," Rivers said. "But that doesn't mean they have to be part of the change. The salary may change, but the address doesn't have to."
Allen is 36 and is making around $10.5 million this season. But he continues to play at a high level and should command offers for the mid-level exception—at least—in the 2012 offseason, according to the SI report. Garnett, on the other hand, would likely have to take a major cut on his current salary of $21.2 million if he wants to play beyond this season.
It's feasible, SI writes, for the Celtics to re-sign Garnett and Allen and still have enough room for a max player. But at a reduced price, there could be a clamoring around the league for the veteran presence Garnett could bring.
Yahoo! Sports, meanwhile, wonders if the Celtics will try to begin the rebuilding process before the March 15 trade deadline, a decision that would almost certainly mean trading Paul Pierce. Many teams have made inquiries about whether the Celtics are willing to trade Pierce, as one Eastern Conference exec told Yahoo! there are “lots of calls asking if (Boston) will blow it up.”
In terms of this season, Rivers told SI, "Can we win (the championship)? I have no idea, I really don't. I'm not thinking about that. What I'm thinking about is getting this group of guys to become a team."
Boston improved to 5-8 after routing Toronto, 96-73, on Wednesday night.
Ainge told the Globe he first needs to figure out whether he should do anything.
"We have gone through some really ugly, bad stretches before and so I have to be careful to not overreact to a situation that’s going bad vs. a situation that’s not going to get better or even if it does get better, it’s not going to be good enough. That’s my job to evaluate."