Steve Bulpett reports that sources tell him the Celtics have all but decided to come back mostly intact for 2011. (Boston Herald)
But before they can even begin to fathom the details, the Celtics had to make one huge decision: Do they keep it together or do they blow it up?
They have decided on the former, according to sources. From that, the map becomes more clear. The Celtics will try to add to their core with a mid-level exception free agent and a draft pick, and trades will be explored, as well.
The feeling is that Danny Ainge might try to rebuild on the fly if there were a more direct route, but unless he could find regenerating trades for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce [stats] – who could opt out of his contract and change the greenscape all by himself – the team’s thought is to hope some good additions can be found. Ray Allen’s free-agent status is also a wild card, though both he and Pierce have let it be known their first choice is to stay. [...]
Again, Ainge would likely make bold moves if he was certain he’d keep the Celtics a contender well into the Rajon Rondo [stats] era. But he is not about to give up on this group for what’s behind Door No. 2.
The Celts cannot be a player in the ultra free-agent market this summer, and they probably do not have enough capital to deal these pieces for better ones.
Bulpett said there is “growing confidence” that Doc Rivers will return next season, but that Danny Ainge may not because of health complications related to his heart attack a year ago. However, Bulpett said the Celtics “expect him to see this run through, at least.”
I can’t say I’m surprised. Barring an opt-out by Paul Pierce (which seems highly unlikely), the Celtics will have no cap space with which to maneuver. Being unable to sign a free agent, it only makes sense they will retain Ray Allen (he has Larry Bird rights, so they can sign him despite the lack of cap space) and give it another go with the current nucleus. If they let Ray go they won’t be able to sign anybody with that money anyway, so what’s the point?
As Bulpett noted, thlikely t route is to sign someone with the mid-level exception and pray the Big Three has another year of championship-level basketball left in them. But will that keep them contenders? Hell, I have no idea. Right now, the only way I could see the current nucleus coming back as true contenders is if Rajon Rondo becomes a real superstar. Or, you know, Lebron James decides he wants to take the mid-level exception.