With Paul Pierce opting out of the final year of his contract, the Celtics now have the opportunity to change the shape of their franchise. The Celtics have an opportunity to rebuild right now, and by letting Pierce walk, have the money to land a big free agent.
Yes, Pierce might still want to sign a new deal with the Celtics. But the Celtics should resist the temptation of bringing him back. It is not personal. This would simply be a business decision. Twenty years ago, the Celtics made the mistake of hanging on to Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for sentimental reasons. Where did that get the Celtics? It took 20 years to get back to an NBA Final and win it.
Paul Pierce has given the Celtics this great opportunity to move forward rather than limp along. This three year run by the new Big Three has been tremendous. However, the shelf life is just about over. It is time to seize the day, and time to build the club around Rajon Rondo.
I urge GM Danny Ainge to think with his head rather than his heart. It will be tough to do but it is necessary. If the Celtics go in this direction, who can they target?
First, there's Joe Johnson, who has spent the past five season with the Hawks. How great would it be to bring back a former Celtic into the fold? He just turned 29, and is in the prime of his career. Last season, he averaged 21 points per game, and while he isn't Paul Pierce, he still has incredible scoring skills.
Then there's Amar'e Stoudemire, who spent his entire career with the Suns. He is 6-foot-10 and only 27 years old, and last season, averaged 23 ppg. If you put him with Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, the Celtics would be very dangerous.
One free agent player can change the Celtics for the next five years. Paul Pierce has given the Celtics a chance to rebuild now. Hopefully Danny Ainge takes advantage of this opportunity.