On October 15, 2012, Ian Thomsen of SI.com wrote that the New York Knicks would win the Atlantic Division. I respect Thomsen as a writer, but I have to disagree with him on this and a few other points in his article.
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are unrestricted free agents, and for the Boston Celtics to contend for a championship, both players must be brought back for next season.
As SI.com’s Ian Thomsen notes, Garnett has been paid more than $14 million in each of the past 15 years. He must take a smaller contract to stay in Boston.
Thomsen also notes that the Bulls, Lakers, Knicks and Grizzlies are all reportedly interested in Allen. He also mentions that the Celtics agreed to a deal with Memphis to swap Allen for O.J. Mayo this past season, but the Grizzlies decided not to go through with it.
If Boston did not bring back Garnett and Allen, they would clear plenty of cap space, but bringing in two players with similar statistics will not allow Boston to compete for a championship.
The core of Boston’s roster is about more than just stats. That was proven conclusively this past season.
The team started the year slow due to the lockout. The abbreviated offseason and the abrupt start put the older Celtics at a serious disadvantage.
It took them a while to get back into game shape and really hit their stride. Once that happened, they showed that they still contend with any team in the league.
They rocketed up the Eastern Conference standings and finished with the No. 4 seed. Garnett played center during their playoff run, and this was a big part of their turnaround. His presence around the rim both on offense and on defense gave them the edge that has made the team successful since his arrival in Boston.
This edge has a lot more to do with attitude and leadership than Garnett’s 15.8 points and 8.2 rebounds this season.
As for Allen, his effect on the younger Celtics players is extremely valuable, and he cannot be evaluated considering only his 14.3 points per game and his 45.3 percent shooting from three-point range.
Both players are still productive, but the team could almost certainly find players with the same numbers for cheaper. If they did this, however, they would be giving up a chance to win another title.
The Big Three, or Big Four counting Rajon Rondo, have a relationship with each other and with Doc Rivers that makes them a contender. Their chemistry gives them the swagger that a champion must have.
If the team is broken up, that confidence will be gone. Allen and Garnett are not done. They still have at least one productive season left in their legs.
Boston needs to bring both these players back. They have earned the right to go out on their own terms and it is the right move if the team wants to win another championship.
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