Recently Danny Ainge out and out told reporters that he’s willing to hear offers for members of the Big 3. Now comes a report from the New York Daily News that takes it a step further.
But with Paul Pierce dealing with heel issues, Kevin Garnett fading, Ray Allen still effective shooting threes but headed for his 37th birthday and the Celtics 5-8 entering the weekend, the team’s owners gave GM Danny Ainge the official go-ahead to move any member of the troika.
“We’ve got to move on,” said one Celtics official. “Let’s face reality.”
Ownership giving Ainge the ability to fire when ready does change the dynamic. Instead of having to do long-term evaluation of any offer, if Ainge gets what he wants, he can pull the trigger. Furthermore, the quote from the Celts official indicates this isn’t a “trade one of the Big 3 and make one more run while looking to the future” and more of a “ABANDON SHIP, THE S.S. UBUNTU IS GOING DOWN!”
The real question is who wants the Big 3? How motivated can any of them be if they’re not competing directly for a championship? Is Paul Pierce going to be more compelled to get into gameshape for a fringe contender? Is Kevin Garnett going to be able to bring the same intensity at this age, or has he burned the fire out? Do you really want to pay Ray Allen to be a spot-up shooter on the perimeter?
So Ainge will be forced to not only break apart a team that considers itself family, but to try and upsell the players he brought together when they were three of the top fifteen players in the league. If the Celtics want to put it together and make a run, now would be the time.
Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break
Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star break.
Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.
The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.
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