The Boston Celtics are indeed one of the most storied franchises in the NBA. Whether it be their 17 championship banners hanging in the rafters, or many Hall of Famers like Larry Bird, Pete Maravich and Bill Russell— nothing but success has come through the Celtics franchise.
Similarly, times may have changed, but this team shows no signs of slowing down. With Danny Ainge in the front office the Celtics have continued to make great decisions. Last NBA season was a big turning point for the team. Although they ultimately came up one game short of the NBA Finals, there is still much hope for this Celtics team with the roster they have in place. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum look like they;=;re going to be special, and they have an exceptional young coach in Brad Stevens. Not to mention they will have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back at the start of this coming season as well.
However, as many people know, the NBA is a business. As great of a franchise as the Celtics are, that doesn’t mean that their front office hasn't made sudden or rash decisions when it comes to player contracts. We certainly saw this when the Celtics traded Isaiah Thomas go for Kyrie Irving, and we saw the same thing when the Raptors shipped DeMar DeRozan out to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard. With these things in mind, let’s take a look at 10 Players The Celtics Let Go Too Soon And 10 They Kept For Too Long.
20 Gave Up Too Soon: Eddie House
Ray Allen, Paul Piece and Kevin Garnett indeed received much of the credit for the Celtics championship run in 2008, but that doesn’t nearly tell the whole story. Several players like Glen Davis, Leon Powe and many others made contributions to their title run as well. One in particular, Eddie House.
House played three seasons with the Celtics, and provided a great spark off the bench with his perimeter shooting.
However, the Celtics never really gave House a chance to fully develop as a player and was let go shortly after the 2009-10 season. House then played one season with the Knicks and another with the Heat before officially retiring in 2011.
19 Kept Too Long: Glen Davis
Another role player who helped contribute to the Celtics title tun in 2008 was Glen “Big Baby” Davis. The big man played four seasons with the Celtics where he averaged 7.6 PPG and 4.1 RPG. Davis was a solid contributor for the Celtics with his aggressive rebounding and tenacious defense. He also developed a consistent jump shot with and his FG percentage gradually increased each season.
However, many would suggest that the Celtics held onto Davis too long, particularly when they knew the big three would split up. Davis was indeed a critical piece for the Celtics championship run, but when the Celtics eventually lost some of their offensive star power, his production became less valuable. After enjoying a championship with the Celtics, Davis played three seasons with the Magic and two with the Clippers before officially retiring in 2015.
18 Gave Up Too Soon: Leon Powe
Similarly, another player who helped the Celtics during that 2008 title run was Leon Powe. The big man was a solid contributor for the Cs where he averaged 6.6 PPG and 4.4 RPG. He had the ultimate privilege of being mentored by Kevin Garnett, and provided great energy off the bench when his number was called.
However, the Celtics didn’t hang onto Powe too long, just for three years. Powe stayed relatively consistent from the floor, averaging about 52% for his career. He averaged nearly 72% from the FT line as well. Perhaps if they held onto him longer, he would have blossomed into a more complete player.
17 Kept Too Long: Rajon Rondo
Rondo was indeed the engine for the Celtics during their title run in 2008. He was the engine switch that made them go with the big three as his weapons.
Rondo played 9 seasons with the Celtics where he led the league in assists averaging 11.1 and 11.7 APG during the 2012 and 13 seasons, and averaged 11.0 PPG and 8.5 APG for his career.
However, others may suggest Rondo was a distraction, specifically because of his fragile relationship with Ray Allen. As reported by Khadrice Rollins on SI.com and covered by the Boston Globe, Rondo had been ripping apart Allen’s new book entitled From The Outside: My Journey Through Life and the Game I Love”. For these reasons, and in light of their severed relationship, perhaps Rondo was held onto too long.
16 Gave Up Too Soon: Gerald Green
Green is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Not only is he insanely athletic, but he also has developed a consistent three point stroke since joining the Houston Rockets. Green played three seasons with the Celtics where he averaged 8.0 PPG and really provided a nice spark off the bench.
Green's three point percentage increased each year with the team and the Celtics never really gave him a chance to fully develop that part of his game. Green now plays an important role on a Rockets team that looks to make another push at the Finals this year.
15 Kept Too Long: Tony Allen
Allen was drafted by the Celtics in 2004 where he went on to play six seasons. He averaged 7.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG.
He wasn't the flashiest player offensively, but was that grit and grind player every team should want on their squad.
However, others may suggest the Celtics held onto Allen too long because of their cap space situation. They had some flexibility during the 2009-10 season, but some would suggest Allen should have been let go way before then. Perhaps they could've used the additional cap space to add some firepower for the playoffs.
14 Gave Up Too Soon: Joe Johnson
Many forget that former All-Star Joe Johnson was originally a Celtics draft pick, but Boston traded him just 48 games into his Celtics career. The Celtics either figured Johnson wouldn't be as good as they initially thought, or they knew he would be good, but felt they needed Rodney Rodgers and Tony Delk, the pieces they got in return.
Johnson would go on to be a seven-time All-Star.
What made the trade worse for Boston was that the Suns also would've accepted fellow rookie Kendrick Brown. Needless to say, the Celtics gave up the wrong player.
13 Kept Too Long: Jeff Green
Green played four seasons with the Celtics, averaging 14.6 PPG and 4.2 RPG. He was a solid contributor for the Celtics runs in the 2012-13 season, primarily when they had to face LeBron and the Miami Heat. Although the Celtics didn’t make it back to the Finals that year, they had a fair shot thanks to players like Green.
However, some would suggest the Celtics held onto Green too long because of his age. Once the Celtics big three was inevitably split up, it wasn’t certain who would remain in a Celtics uniform. Green was one of those players the Celtics held onto, but perhaps for too long. Green is now a member of a weak LeBronless Cavs squad that would be lucky to return to the playoffs this year.
12 Gave Up Too Soon: Isaiah Thomas
The main piece included in the Kyrie Irving deal was Isaiah Thomas. The deal took place in the 2017 offseason and although it worked out well for both teams, some may say it was a harsh move on Ainge's part.
Thomas had a great career with the Celtics where he averaged 24.7 PPG and 5.5 APG.
His accomplishments with the Cs were just remarkable and with Kyrie Irving still not having signed an extension in Boston, you wonder if the deal was worth it.
Thomas went on to play part of last season with the Cavaliers and the Lakers, and he now hopes to earn a longer term deal.
11 Kept Too Long: Avery Bradley
Okay, this one pains me to put on this list. Not only was Bradley a very versatile piece for the Celtics during their 2008 title run, but he also was a valuable piece once the big three went on to part ways in Boston. During Bradley's 7 seasons with the Celtics he averaged 12.5 PPG and 3.1 RPG. He was a solid contributor for the Cs, and his time with the team will always be remembered.
However, some would say the Cs kept Bradley for too long, particularly when the big three officially parted ways. Bradley was a key piece for the Celtics during that 2008-10 span, but was also a key part of the rebuilding phase as well. Although it was a difficult decision, some would say he was kept a little too long.
10 Gave Up Too Soon: Jae Crowder
Crowder played just three seasons with the Celtics, but they were effective ones where he averaged 12.8 PPG and 5.3 RPG. He was a solid contributor for the Cs, and his effort on the defensive end as well as offensive end made him a versatile piece to the squad. Crowder was truly the grit and grind of the Celtics rebuilding phase.
However, Crowder was ultimately shipped in a deal along with Isaiah Thomas to Cleveland for the services of Kyrie Irving this past year. Although this deal worked out well for both sides, some may say it was a harsh move on Danny Ainge's part. Although Crowder's time in Boston was short, his efforts and contributions will always be remembered.
9 Kept Too Long: Jared Sullinger
The PF from the Ohio State University was drafted by the Celtics in the 2012 NBA Draft. Sullinger spent four seasons with the Celtics where he averaged 11.1 PPG and 7.7 RPG. He was not only solid on the defensive end, but could also hit the short range jumper as well.
However, one setback for Sullinger was his injury woes.
During the 2014-15 season he sustained a stress fracture in his left foot and another metatarsal tear the next season. His injury history certainly limited his performance and derailed his career to some extent. Sullinger is currently a member of the Shenzhen Leopards in China.
8 Gave Up Too Soon: Jonas Jerebko
Jerebko played three seasons with the Celtics where he averaged 4.6 PPG and 3.8 RPG. He was a solid contributor for the Cs and his strong defensive play made him a versatile asset to the team. Although he only played 3 seasons with the team, they were effective ones helping the Celtics get back to the playoffs with his off the bench contributions.
However, some may suggest that the Celtics should have kept Jerebko a bit longer due to the Celtics performances in the postseason. Jerebko provided a lot of depth to the team, which was crucial for them at that point. Jerebko now plays for a very good Jazz team.
7 Kept Too Long: Brandon Bass
Bass played for four seasons with the Celtics where he averaged 10.6 PPG and 5.5 RPG. He was indeed another solid contributor for the Cs, but his limited offensive ability made him less valuable to the team. Although he shot about 77% from the free throw line and around 50% from the field, his limited offensive ability made his value decrease as the years went on.
However, as mentioned the Celtics kept Bass for four years, so something had to have enticed them to keep him longer. After spending four years with the Celtics, Bass was traded and went on to take another decreased role on a solid Clippers squad.
6 Gave Up Too Soon: Ryan Gomes
Gomes played just two seasons with the Celtics where he averaged 10 PPG and 5 RPG. He was a solid contributor for the Cs and shot well from three; shooting nearly 47% from beyond. And he provided a nice spark off the bench when needed.
Some may suggest, however, that the Celtics gave up on Gomes and didn’t really allow him to develop as a complete player. He only played two seasons with the Celtics, which is not long for any player in the NBA. He was of course, part of the big trade that landed Kevin Garnett, but many would wonder if there was any way they could've kept him.
5 Kept Too Long: Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk played four seasons with the Celtics where he averaged 9.5 PPG and 7.8 RPG. He was a solid contributor for the Cs, but lacked that offensive prowess the Celtics hoped he would have had.
Olynyk played his collegiate career for a very reputable Gonzaga program, but has struggled offensively since entering the NBA.
He has shown the ability to increase his range, evident from his three point percentage last season, but has struggled in other facets of the game. Olynyk now plays for a solid Miami squad that hopes to return to the postseason next year.
4 Gave Up Too Soon: Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker was a force for the Celtics in the early 2000s, but many forget Walker actually had separate stints with the Celtics. He was traded to Dallas prior to the 2003-04 season, only to be re-acquired a couple of years later. The Celtics quickly gave up on Walker again and traded him to the Miami Heat in the 2005-06 season and Walker eventually went on to be a crucial part to the Heat's bench in their 2006 championship run. It's a shame Walker wasn't around for the Celtics' 2008 championship run. Walker would retire from the NBA in 2010.
3 Kept Too Long: Brian Scalabrine
Brian Scalabrine was a fan favorite in Boston, but it wasn't necessarily for his play. He loved to have fun on the sidelines and he was briefly a decent contributor in the Celtics' 2008 championship season, but signing Scalabrine to a five-year contract felt a little long for someone who was a role player at best. The Celtics didn't even use Scalabrine at all in the 2008 playoffs After the 2007-08 season, Scalabrine's role kept getting reduced until his contract expired. After a brief stint with the Bulls, he retired and went on to become a broadcaster for the Celtics.
2 Gave Up Too Soon: Chauncey Billups
Billups was drafted in 1997 by the Boston Celtics. Although he spent just one season with the team, it was an effective one where he averaged 11.1 PPG and 2.2 APG. Mr. Big Shot undeniably shaped out to be one of the great PG’s in the NBA, but the Celtics obviously didn’t see that potential at the time.
Billups career didn't end with Boston, however, for he went on to play another illustrious 19 seasons in the NBA. Billups will forever be remembered as one of the great PGs to play the game. Billups retired long ago and is now a member of the NBA Countdown Crew with Jalen Rose, Paul Pierce and Michelle Beadle.
1 Kept Too Long: Kendrick Perkins
Many will remember Perkins for his rebounding ability and strong defensive presence for the Celtics which really helped them during those 2008-10 title runs. Although he ultimately missed Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals due to injury, he was a solid piece for the Celtics and they very could have won that series should he have played.
Although Perkins was a solid rebounder and defensive presence for the Cs, some may suggest the Celtics held onto him for too long. Perkins played eight seasons altogether with the Celtics and some may suggest that was far too long to keep the big man under contract.