Should the Boston Celtics Target Josh Smith and Paul George?
GM Danny Ainge deserves credit for the team he put together a few years ago but perhaps the time has come to shuffle the deck again. Could he set up a plan around bringing in forwards Josh Smith and Paul George?
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have reached their ends
For one incredible season the NBA got an eye-popping view of what it was like to see two of the very best in the game single-mindedly stampede their way to a championship. Paul Pierce, a 10-time All-Star, and Kevin Garnett, a 15-time All-Star, did not join forces until late in their careers. Yet when in happened they accomplished the rare feat of fulfilling expectations right away. They brought Boston back its first championship since 1986 on the strength of suffocating defense and versatile scoring from the post to the perimeter. For a time no other team could touch them. In the end though, it wasn’t the NBA but Father Time that brought them down.
Garnett is 37-years old. His once freakish athleticism and explosion aren’t there anymore. Pierce turns 36 in October. While he is still a viable threat his big dip can’t be far off. Having lost Rajon Rondo to injury earlier in the season, Boston got a clean look at how ineffective the Celtics were in the playoffs against a younger New York Knicks team. They can’t believe anything will be different after another season of wear on tear on their bodies. The time is right for a change. By sending them on their way, Boston can give them the opportunities they deserve to pursue one more championship before retiring, while allowing Ainge a chance to rebuild the teams’ core.
Smith likely done with the Atlanta Hawks
The first order of business for Boston fans is not to expect their team to find those players at such a rapid pace like they did in 2007. It may take more than one season. Since Garnett was such a key in their front court, it should start with the power forward position. Given the weakness of the 2013 draft, it’s likely free agency is their best option. Of all the names expected to become available, Josh Smith is the most intriguing. The 27-year old is a consistent threat in the paint for the Atlanta Hawks. Not only did he post 17 points and 8 rebounds per game, he also showcased his defensive prowess with two blocks a night as well. It’s clear his time in Atlanta is at an end. What people wonder is where he will land and at what price.
Teams like the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks already have their eyes on him. Boston however could get the most from his skills. Head coach Doc Rivers puts out his best lineups when he has a versatile player in the post who can score on one end and defend on the other. That is what Garnett was for years. Though Smith had a down season he is not an injury risk and is an easy piece to build around were he to team with Rondo. It will come down to how much Boston is willing to pay to get him.
George fate with Indiana Pacers may hinge on Miami Heat series
One soon-to-be free agent nobody has talked much about is small forward Paul George of the Indiana Pacers. As part of a solid, young starting lineup built by GM Larry Bird, George has grown into one of the best at his position in the Eastern Conference. His points per game went from 17 in the regular season to 19 in the playoffs, signaling he doesn’t fear the big stage. Coupled with seven rebounds and four assists he boasts a versatility the Pacers covet. The fact he will only be 24-years old when he hits the free agent market in 2014 is the biggest bonus of all.
That is why Indiana brass has watched him carefully throughout the post-season. They would like nothing better than to hand out a max contract to him if he proves he can thrive in big games. No team can offer a better barometer than the Miami Heat, a team Boston is very familiar with as well. That is why they should watch George closely as well. A good series against the Heat would mean he can become their answer at small forward if and when Pierce departs.
No one can say a Smith/George combination would replace what Garnett and Pierce brought to the Celtics. However, if the old powerhouse wants to maintain their competitive edge in the playoffs then having two versatile forwards who can score and defend never hurts.