2.15.2007

Our long regional nightmare is over


Celts win! Lucky me that the one game I give my most time of the season (a whole half plus a couple minutes) is the one that breaks their 18-game losing streak. Paul Pierce, without a doubt, is a difference-maker.

The big question now is how badly do the Celtics have to tank for the rest of the season in order to have the best chance at the #1 draft pick this summer -- but should that be their endgame? Paul Pierce was on WEEI yesterday grumbling that he would rather the team trade the pick for a veteran, rather than take on another project.

If Kevin Durant was the consensus #1 pick, I'd have to agree with PP -- Pierce has proven that he is the all-star of the team and that he can win games by carrying the team on his back. No one else can do that, and none of the young players have shown flashes of even being able to do that. How long could it take Durant to develop into a solid second option for the team? It could be several years. Pierce might not even be around (either due to retirement from injuries or from demanding a trade to a real contender) by the time Durant's potential comes to fruition.

Durant is getting his props, but he's being set up as a franchise player like LeBron. The Celtics already have a franchise player in his prime -- Pierce -- and they already have two possible future franchise guys -- Al Jefferson and Gerald Green.

Trading the pick makes sense: another all-star caliber player, plus further-developed youngsters/roleplayers such as Jefferson, Green, Rajon Rondo, a rehabbed Tony Allen and Wally Szerbiak (or his Raef Lafrentz-like equivalent) will make the C's a perennial deep playoff threat for as long as Pierce plays.

Greg Oden is another story, however. He's being compared to Kareem, Shaq, Russell -- all the cornerstone big men. No one is sure what kind of splash he'll make when he enters the league, but if it's close what Shaq has done, I'm all for picking him. Pierce might not like taking another year or two to develop yet another young player, but Oden fills a position that Green can't at all and Jefferson can't effectively.

It seems like every year since 2002, the Celtics are on the cusp of turning things around. Every year seems to be 1 step forward, and 1-2 steps back. Either way, the Celtics are at yet another crossroads right now. Let's hope they take the right path.

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