When it was obvious the Celtics were going to lose Game 7, Doc Rivers subbed out his Big Three one final time for the season.
For Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, we know it won't be for the final times of their careers -- but what about Kevin Garnett?
Garnett hasn't publicly spoken since the loss, and being an unrestricted free agent going into his 18th season, there's a real chance he even retires. He could also go to any other NBA team interested in bringing him on.
But Kendrick Perkins, a former teammate of Garnett's, tells the Boston Globe that he thinks if Garnett does choose basketball for at least another season, the Celtics are his team.
I feel like if he does return to basketball, I think that that would be the team, Perkins said of the Celtics. I heard Kevin say a few times that he wouldnt want to play for anybody but Doc, so it will be interesting to see. I still think he got a lot more years in him. He got a lot of love for the game and it would be hard to see Kevin walk away from the game right now.
Perkins went on to say that Garnett found the "Fountain of Youth" this season, and that was pretty apparent based on his averages: 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.0 blocks. Those numbers compare with his 2008-09 season cut short by a knee injury that forced him to miss the end of the regular season and entire postseason.
With Garnett hitting free agency during an offseason where there aren't a lot of great centers, there should be numerous teams vying for his services. But if Perkins is right, Garnett will tune them out.
BOSTON – Terry Rozier was having a rough stretch where his minutes were limited and when he did play, he didn’t play particularly well.
Among the voices in his ear offering words of encouragement was Avery Bradley who knows all too well what Rozier was going through.
For all his time as a Celtic, Bradley has let his work on the floor do the talking for him.
But as the most tenured Celtic on the roster, his leadership has to be about more than just getting the job done, but servicing as a vocal leader as well.
For a player whose growth from one year to the next has been a constant, being a more vocal leader has been the one dynamic of his game that has improved the most during this past season.
And it is that kind of leadership that will carry into the summer what is a pivotal offseason for both Bradley and this Celtics franchise which was eliminated by Cleveland in the Conference finals, the first time the Celtics got that deep in the playoffs since 2012.
He is entering the final year of the four-year, $32 million contract he signed in 2014. And it comes at a time when his fellow Tacoma, Wash. native and backcourt mate Isaiah Thomas will likely hit free agency where he’s expected to command a max or near-max contract that would pay him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $30 million.
At this point in time, Bradley isn’t giving too much thought to his impending contract status.
Instead, he’s more consumed by finding ways to improve his overall game and in doing so, help guide the Celtics to what has to be their focus for next season – a trip to the NBA Finals.
While Celtics players have said their focus has always been on advancing as far into the playoffs as possible, it wasn’t until this past season did they actually provide hope and promise that Banner 18 may be closer than you think.
It was an emotional time for the Celtics, dealing with the unexpected death of Chyna Thomas, the younger sister of Isaiah Thomas, just hours before Boston’s first playoff game this season.
And then there were injuries such as Thomas’ right hip strain that ended his postseason by halftime of Boston’s Eastern Conference finals matchup with Cleveland.
But through that pain, we saw the emergence of Bradley in a light we have seldom seen him in as a Celtic.
We have seen him play well in the past, but it wasn’t until Thomas’ injury did we see Bradley showcase even more elements of his game that had been overlooked.
One of the constant knocks on Bradley has been his ball-handling.
And yet there were a number of occasions following Thomas’ playoff-ending injury, where Bradley attacked defenders off the dribble and finished with lay-ups and an occasional dunk in transition.
Among players who appeared in at least 12 playoff games this year, only Washington’s John Wall (7.9), Cleveland’s LeBron James (6.8) and Golden State’s Stephen Curry (5.2) averaged more points in transition than Bradley (4.7).
Bradley recognized the team needed him to be more assertive, do things that forced him to be more front-and-center which is part of his evolution in Boston as a leader on this team.
“It’s weird but players like Al (Horford) definitely helped me get out of my shell and pushed me this year to be more of a vocal leader,” Bradley said.
And that talent combined with Bradley doing what he does every offseason – come back significantly better in some facet of his game – speaks to how he’s steadily growing into being a leader whose actions as well as his words are impactful.
Dan Shaughnessy and Cedric Maxwell discuss the talent gap between the Celtics and the Cavaliers, which Maxwell says is like the grand canyon.