Would Boston Celtics Be Contender With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett?

By Michael LeDuc
Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The day the Boston Celtics completed the trade to send Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, Celtics fans were ready to move on from an entertaining and highly competitive era.

Most fans were ready for “tank mode” going into the season. So far, this team has shown that it is too good to be in the lottery. It seems like the players on the roster have no intention of “tanking”. Surprisingly, this team has a drive to win and appear to be fighting for a low playoff spot.

If the Celtics do not plan on tanking, why would Danny Ainge trade players like Garnett and Pierce? Wasn’t the whole point of the trade to rebuild and obtain a high draft pick? Instead, Boston is in contention for a playoff spot, and if Rajon Rondo comes back, the Celtics will most certainly meet that goal. Would the Celtics be better off if Pierce and Garnett were never traded?

This offseason, the Celtics had room to improve their team through various trades, free agency, and the draft. If the Celtics had kept Pierce and Garnett, players like Kelly Olynyk, Vitor Faverani and Phil Pressey would be excellent additions to a contending team. With a couple trades here and there, the team could have been set up to succeed.

With the emergence of Jordan Crawford and Jared Sullinger, this team had the potential to be a contending team in the East. Jeff Green, Sullinger and the improved offense of Avery Bradley would have relieved the pressure off of Pierce and Garnett. Faverani and Olynyk would also add much-needed depth around KG.

With Rondo coming back, the Celtics would have a solid starting lineup with a terrific bench. A potential lineup could have looked like Garnett, Sullinger, Green, Bradley and Rondo. I firmly believe Pierce would thrive in the sixth-man role. Faverani, Bass, Courtney Lee, Terry and Crawford would make up a great supporting cast. Young big men Olynyk, Sullinger and Faverani would also benefit from having KG around as a mentor.

There is an obvious overload of shooting guards, so a potential trade involving Terry or Lee would be necessary.

Keeping Pierce and Garnett also had financial benefits. Pierce’s contract would have expired at the end of the season, and Garnett would most likely retire. The Celtics would have freed $26 million and then could have blown up the roster after the 2014 season. Instead, Boston owes Gerald Wallace a total of $30 million for the next three years.

With the way the Eastern Conference is shaping up, the Celtics could have been a top-five team in the East. Instead, Boston is stuck in the bottom of the playoff race with a probable mid-round draft pick. If the Celtics are not going to “tank” this year, then the organization should have opted to go for one more run with the future Hall-of-Famers it had on the roster.

If the Celtics continue to compete for a low playoff seed, then the future will not look so different than if the Celtics did not make the blockbuster trade. The Celtics could have been contenders for another year, and Pierce and Garnett deserved to have that last run be with the team.

Michael LeDuc writes about the Boston Celtics for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @mike_leduc, like his Facebook page and add him on Google.

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