|We could be seeing still more of this. (Getty Images)|
It was supposed to be the last ride. The Celtics' heroic, if doomed, last lunge towards the sun. They kept the team together past the lockout, past the dreadful start, past the trade deadline. They hung their hat on the idea that they could make another run. And they nearly pulled it off. If it hadn't been for LeBron James bursting into the best player in the playoffs and an unstoppable scoring machine, they might have made the Finals, and who knows?
But it was supposed to be over. Kevin Garnett would retire or head off. Ray Allen would surely go on his merry way, maybe to Miami. The Celtics would build behind a new core, using their two draft picks, maybe try and move up, and head towards a new era with fresh blood. Time to head in a new direction.
Not so much.
Yahoo Sports talked to Doc Rivers after the Celtics re-signed Garnett to a large three-year contract and he made it clear. They want the Big 3 back in Boston and he thinks it will happen.
"We want to get the band back together and add to it," Rivers told Yahoo! Sports by phone. "We have a great locker room with no issues. Guys want to be back and want to be a part of this."
Rivers thinks the Celtics will be the last team to get to talk to Allen before he makes his decision. Free agents can't sign contracts until July 11, but are able to make verbal commitments during the NBA's moratorium on transactions.
"We called him," Rivers said. "He lives in Boston and loves it in Boston. Ray will look around, but we will be there at the end. I'm hopeful he will re-sign."
The Celtics are reportedly preparing a two-year, $12 million deal, twice what the next highest bidder (the Memphis Grizzlies) are preparing with the mid-level exception. He gets the comfort of home, and the money. Reforming the Big 3 (or 4) seems like the obvious conclusion.
But is it the right move?
The great Pistons team of the mid-2000's held on too long and wound up being ushered out by LeBron James in 2009, prompting the destruction of the core. But teams like the Mavericks and Spurs have held on. Are the Celtics tempting fate by holding onto the core too long or giving a team that was one win away from the Finals another chance to shock the world?
The run by the Celtics in context makes it seem as though there's every reason to believe next season could be more of the same. With a full training camp and a normal schedule, maybe they can rest their starters a bit more. Ray Allen doesn't develop a bone spur in his ankle, maybe things are different. Paul Pierce doesn't sprain his MCL, maybe things are different. So many things went against the Celtics, and still they were right there.
But that last run, it was a good run. It was something to be proud of. The Boston crowd (what was left of them after King James burned the house down) chanting into the night. The tough end for a team that always went out tough. A seven-game series against the eventual champions.
It was what you want.
Now there's as much a risk it could end ugly and uncomfortable as with an unlikely run. Both are improbable, at least right away.
For Ray Allen, the choice seems to be obvious. Boston is offering twice as much as the highest offer. The only questions involve his desire to win a championship, and his relationship with Rajon Rondo which is rumored to be chilly. He'll likely have to come off the bench no matter where he goes (Memphis being a possible exception). Does he want to come off the bench behind Avery Bradley... or Dwyane Wade?
This decision by Celtics' management seems one of the heart and not of the mind. But then, we thought the same at the deadline, and in truth, everything worked out pretty great. Why not give the guys another run? Now they just need Allen to buy in.
The Celtics will still be the Celtics in 2013, it would seem.