Here’s a look at what’s in store for the Celtics this offseason after a first-round loss to the Knicks.
• What is the biggest priority for Boston this offseason?
They must decide whether to maintain the old formula of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo or break it up after six largely successful seasons. Much will depend on the decision of the 6-foot-11 Garnett, who will be 37 next season. Garnett was struggling physically toward the end of the season and has been hinting at retirement for the last two years, so it would be no surprise if he were to stop playing. The Celtics could receive some cap relief from the remaining two years of his contract (worth $24.4 million altogether) depending on whether they negotiated a buyout at a reduced rate or he officially retired, in which case the money would come off entirely.
The Celtics should happily welcome the return of Garnett if he wants to continue for another season. He remains one of the NBA’s most influential defenders and leaders, a veteran who continues to set the ultimate example of professionalism for younger teammates.
The other decision involves Pierce, whose expiring contract (worth $15.3 million next year) can be bought out for $5 million by June 30. The Celtics could package Pierce’s contract with one or more current teammates in a draft-day trade for a younger player, with the understanding that the team receiving Pierce would then buy him out. That would liberate Pierce to sign with a contender as a free agent — perhaps the Clippers, who would enable Pierce to return to his native Los Angeles. Pierce, who turns 36 in October, wants to play at least one more year, and he has little interest in finishing his career with a rebuilding team.