The years, the Boston Celtics have depended on their veterans to lead them to NBA title contention. But with the Paul Pierce–Kevin Garnett era appearing at its end, it’s time for the franchise to embrace point guard Rajon Rondo and forward Jeff Green as the future core of the team.
While Pierce, Garnett and the departed Ray Allen led the Celtics to their last championship in their first season together in 2008, those days are long behind them. Garnett will be 37 this month, and has looked and sounded like a man that is leaning towards retirement. Although he managed to average 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds this season, Garnett also missed 14 games due to injuries and was noticeably ailing in the Celtics first round series against the New York Knicks.
Pierce on the other hand, may still have a couple seasons left in the tank. At 35, the scoring wing led Boston is scoring at 18.6 points per game while also contributing 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists but is approaching the final year of his contract.
Pierce has a player option on his deal, meaning he can become a free agent this summer if he wishes and would be difficult for him to walk away from the only NBA franchise that he’s ever played for, but freeing up some cap space and allowing the Celtics to move forward in a different direction may be his best move.
It’s not as if the Celtics won’t be left in good hands. Rondo has led the league in assists per game, and the scrappy PG is a threat to go for a triple-double any night. Green proved that he can be a steady source of offense firepower — he averaged 18.6 points over the Celtics last 19 regular season games.
Even rookie Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley have something they can offer to the franchise; Sullinger with his rebounding and Bradley’s perimeter defense.
Boston’s season ended on a sour note, but they should feel confident that they can continue to be successful without much of a drop off once Pierce and Garnett are gone. The Celtics have the young talent to contend in the eastern conference, despite a major overhaul of their key players.