BOSTON (CBS) – After their Game 6 comeback bid fell short and their season was ended by the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics‘ veteran leaders had little to say about their future.
Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce may have played their final game in a Celtics uniform on Friday night, but said it was too early to make any decision — or the decision wasn’t up to them.
“I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest with you. I’m kind of digesting , obviously, the current, and Doc (Rivers) came to me, pulled Paul and I to the side and all three of us agreed to speak later — too emotional,” said the soon-to-be 37-year-old Garnett. “Obviously, it was a big game and a tough loss, especially at home. But more importantly in the future, it’s a different day for that conversation.”
Garnett has two more years remaining on the three-year extension he signed last summer. But after 18 NBA seasons, it wouldn’t be too hard to picture Garnett hanging them up.
Especially if Pierce is no longer a member of the team.
Pierce has one year remaining on his deal with Boston, but the team has a $5 million buy-out option. When asked about his future with the team, Pierce again said he will play next year, but reiterated what he said earlier in the week: staying in Boston is up to Celtics president of basketball ops, Danny Ainge.
“That’s a decision for the management,” said Pierce. “Who knows what the future [will be]? I’ve been here 15 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes each and every year. So I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of changes here and we’ll see what happens.”
When asked, Garnett made his feelings on Pierce as a Celtic clear.
“One of the big reasons I came [to Boston] was because of Paul,” said Garnett. “Obviously, you want to be in a situation where it’s better. I want to make sure that I’m able to always help a team. I want to be in positions to where I’m giving something. I demand a lot of myself, both physically and from a skill level. But I’d be lying to you all if I said Paul didn’t play into that factor. Like I said, it’s too soon of a conversation for me right now.”
When asked if he wants his veteran teammates to return, Jeff Green answered, “if I had a wish, everybody would be back, healthy, the way we started.”
The Celtics 2012-13 campaign was one marred with injuries, losing both point guard Rajon Rondo and rookie Jared Sullinger for the season in late January. That might be leaving Ainge wondering “what if” once again, and it’s possible he decides to make one more run with his Pierce and Garnett with the young talent he now has around them.
Or, it could be time to rebuild around those young stars like Rondo and Green and other young pieces like Sullinger and guard Avery Bradley.
Pierce will likely be the first move that gets things going this off-season. If he stays, chances are Garnett will too. But if Pierce is traded or bough-out, there is a good chance Garnett will retire.
It will be an interesting summer for the Celtics and their fans, one that could see some major changes with the franchise. Those changes could start with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett no longer wearing green; an odd and strange thought for the Celtics faithful.