Since Rajon Rondo went down with an ACL injury, I had not been alone in calling for the Celtics to start making big changes — it’s time to transition to the next phase of the Celtics.
But saying that and actually doing something like trading Paul Pierce is something else entirely.
He is a 14-year Celtic, a champion and finals MVP, a 10-time All-Star wearing the green. He is the most iconic Celtic player since the Bird era ended. He is beloved. Trading him is hard just for the sentimental reasons.
“You know, I want to retire as a Celtic,” said Pierce. “That’s been my longtime goal. But it’s not in my control. The organization, they make their decisions, but it’s something I desire.”
GM Danny Ainge has talked more than once about wanting to break up this Celtics era earlier rather than later. But can he really just trade Paul Pierce?
Pierce has one season on his contract, one that can be bought out for $5 million. He’s still a valuable scorer who can create his own shot and will step into more of a point-forward role with Rondo out.
He has a lot of trade value. But can the Celtics really pull that trigger?
Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.
Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.
Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.
Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.
This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.
But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.
Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah likely to miss rest of season after knee surgery
Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.
But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.
Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.
Buddy Hield: Vivek Ranadive told me at Kings-Pelicans games, ‘We’re still going to get you’