KG: C's need changes to join NBA's elite

KG: C's need changes to join NBA's elite
May 4, 2013, 4:30 pm
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BOSTON -- If you're looking for a sugar-coated tale, Kevin Garnett is not the one to tell you that story.

You want the truth?

He'll give it you, and then some.

That's why it should come as no surprise that as much as he loved playing with his teammates this past season, he understands changes have to be made if the C's are to rejoin the pack of elite NBA teams.

"I think we need some additions," Garnett said following Boston's 88-80 Game 6 loss to the New York Knicks. "Health hit us pretty hard this year and I'm sure they're gonna address that."

On Jan. 25, the Celtics lost All-Star Rajon Rondo for the season to a torn right ACL injury. Less than a week later, Jared Sullinger underwent back surgery and like Rondo, he, too, was lost for the season.

When you throw in Leandro Barbosa sustaining a season-ending torn ACL injury on Feb. 11, all of a sudden you have an image of a team that was never whole which was at the heart of why they were so inconsistent.

Garnett, having just completed his 18th NBA season, was among the Celtics to miss games because of injuries.

But in the playoffs, there wasn't a single Celtics player who performed at as high a level, or as consistently, as Garnett who will be 37 later this month.

That said, it's still not a given that he will be back next season despite signing a three-year, $36 million contract last year.

The return of Paul Pierce -- the Celtics can buy him out for $5 million and are seriously considering doing so -- would certainly enhance the likelihood that Garnett will return instead of retire.

Still, it would also bode well for the C's to put together a roster that can compete with the NBA's best, and one that doesn't rely so heavily on Garnett.

The C's best route to do that will be through trades, with most of the players on the roster this season on the books for at least another couple seasons.

And the short-term deals that the Celtics have are with players who didn't make much money, which means their departure does little in terms of enhancing the C's salary cap flexibility.

That's why in all likelihood, the Celtics will once again look to add a veteran big man for the veteran's minimum just as they did with Chris Wilcox, Darko Milicic and Jason Collins.

Wilcox is unlikely to be back next season, while Milicic left the team in November and Collins had to be included in the trade with Washington for Jordan Crawford - a deal Boston had to swing after losing Barbosa.

Garnett may be nearing the end of his career, but he proved in the first round of the playoffs that he still has a lot to offer the game basketball-wise.

To get Garnett to the postseason healthy enough to compete at a high level, the Celtics had to sacrifice games in the regular season in which his minutes were limited or he didn't play at all.

And the players that Boston leaned on to fill that void, came nowhere close to providing all or even some of the many intangibles that Garnett brings to the game.

Nobody expects the C's to find a Garnett clone out there on the free agent market.

That guy doesn't exist.

The bigs that the Celtics used at times this season -- Wilcox, Collins and Shavlik Randolph -- simply failed to provide the kind of consistent play needed from a backup center.

Garnett isn't the only one who believes the C's are in need of bolstering its roster.

Coach Doc Rivers echoed Garnett's sentiments following the loss on Friday.

"We need more," Rivers said. "But the key is, for us, you know, do you want to take away to get more? That will be a decision that will be made later."