What comes next anyone’s guess
Offseason likely to include changes
LOS ANGELES — As much as the Celtics have tried to block out the uncertainty of the offseason, dealing with what happens next is inevitable.
“We’re in for a long summer,’’ Rajon Rondo said before last night’s Game 7.
Signing a five-year, $55 million contract extension in November guaranteed that Rondo would be one of the Celtics’ primary pieces in what ultimately will be a period of transition. Ray Allen will be an unrestricted free agent July 1. Paul Pierce has a $21.5 million player option for 2010-11. Beyond Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace, the reserves will all be free agents. And now, Kendrick Perkins will be coming off knee injury.
“I can only control what I can control,’’ Rondo said. “It’s literally out of my control. They’ll make a decision when the time comes, but you can’t do anything until July 1. So at least I’ll have a couple days to think about it. Hopefully we can all come back, but that’s not going to happen.’’
Having seen teams be assembled and then deconstructed over the course of his career, Allen looked at potential change as merely part of the natural order of the league.
“I’ve been with other great players and I’ve been on teams with other great coaches,’’ Allen said. “You just always take solace in the fact that you do everything you possibly can to get yourself in a good situation and move forward, whether it’s in your current situation or if you have to move.’’
Still, the dynamic the Celtics built the past three seasons is uncommon, where superstars like Allen, Pierce, and Kevin Garnett were able to win championships as they aged, a young talent like Rondo emerged as an All-Star, and a revolving door of veterans, from P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell to Michael Finley and Wallace, found a place where their experience and mileage was welcome.
“This is a very tight, close-knit group,’’ Garnett said. “We’re grueling on each other, we can speak to each other in different ways. We interact with each other a lot. I haven’t been on a team to where, other than in ’08, to where guys were even closer. Believe it or not, that makes a huge difference.
“You know who you can trust. You know the guys you’re dealing with. You know his personality. It simplifies it a little more when you know who you’re doing it with and who you are and who the personality is versus not knowing.’’
“Kobe is, period,’’ Garnett said. “I wouldn’t disagree with that. He makes his team go. He’s their life, does multiple things in the game, and every time you speak of Kobe, you speak of excellence, you think of excellence.’’
Garnett and Bryant are at the top of the list of players to make the jump from high school directly to the pros, along with Moses Malone. Bryant entered the league in 1996, a year after Garnett, and while many players flamed out after trying to make the same jump, the two of them adapted quickly to the rigors of the league, carving out careers that will land them in the Hall of Fame.
“He’s a class act,’’ Garnett said of Bryant. “Plays with a vengeance and tenaciousness. He’s well respected around the league. I can keep going and going.’’
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.