The Boston Celtics 2012-2013 season took a turn for the worst on Sunday.
The club announced that Rajon Rondo will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. The point guard suffered the injury against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and will miss the remainder of the season.
Despite a win against the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon, the news may have effectively ended any chance of the Celtics making a deep playoff run. Rondo is, arguably, the team’s best player, averaging 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game. He was selected to start the All-Star game for the East.
Without their star guard, it will be hard for Boston to salvage an already disappointing year. At 21-23, they sit seven games behind the New York Knicks in the Atlantic Division. They currently hold the last playoff spot in the conference.
The injury could force the Celtics to start building for the future. Boston has a talented roster, but an aging one as well. If the Celtics can’t compete for a title this year, team president Danny Ainge may decide to trade some of their most valuable assets.
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett could be on their way out of Boston.
Pierce is the most likely Celtic to be traded. Even before Rondo’s injury, there were rumors that he could be moved before the deadline. He’s only guaranteed to make $4 million next season, making him one of the most valuable assets on the market.
Berger reports that the Memphis Grizzlies are a possible landing spot for Pierce. A potential deal would likely involve a swap of Pierce for Rudy Gay. Both players are big scorers and would be able to help their new teams.
Memphis would be getting the better player in the deal. Pierce will likely be a Hall of Famer, averaging just less than 22 points per game for his career. At 35 year’s old, he’s still averaging 18.7 points per contest. Pierce’s short term contract would also help the Grizzlies achieve their goal of lowering their payroll.
Boston wouldn’t lose much with Gay’s 17 points per game. The small forward is nine years younger than Pierce, and could be a big part of the Celtics future.
While Pierce could be on his way to the Western Conference, the Celtics could send Garnett to a team in their own division. Berger suggested that the Brooklyn Nets might be a potential suitor for the 36-year-old.
Garnett is in the midst of his 18th NBA season, but remains one of the most productive big men in the league. His 15 points and 7.3 rebounds per game earned him a starting spot in the All-Star Game.
At 36 years old, Garnett isn’t nearly as valuable on a team that might not even make the postseason. His experience could help a Nets team that is looking to challenge the Heat for the top spot in the East. Trading Garnett to Brooklyn could land Boston a few first-round draft picks and possibly Kris Humphries.
The Celtics core was formed in 2007 when they traded for both Garnett and Ray Allen. The group made two NBA Finals appearances and gave Celtics fans their first championship since 1986.
With Allen signing with Miami in the offseason, and Pierce and Garnett no longer in the prime of their careers, it might be time for Boston to finally reconfigure their starting lineup.