Today is the greatest day
I've ever known
Can't live for tomorrow
I might not have that long
-From the Song "Today,'' Smashing Pumpkins
Maybe the Celtics can start playing the song during timeouts next season. If ever there was perfect anthem for the 2009-10 Celtics, "Today" would be it, especially if the reports about Rasheed Wallace and Grant Hill joining the team turn out to be correct.
It is not as if this is a new philosophy. The Celtics have been living for today since they brought in veterans Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen while they were trading away a lottery pick.
What is happening this week, with the apparent signing of Wallace on Wednesday and the strong possibility that Hill could be on the way a day or two later, simply hammers home the point stronger than ever. If you did not believe before that the Celts are living in the present, it is all but impossible to deny it now.
If Wallace and Hill do, indeed, join Team Green, the Celtics will be one of the oldest teams in NBA history. Never mind that the roster, as of last month, had an average age of 27, just one year older than the Lakers'.
The reality is that the key players all could join an over-30 league. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are both 33. Paul Pierce is 31. Wallace is 34. Hill is 36.
Is that good or bad? It depends on whether you live for the present or the future.
If the Celts are going to remain a contender, bringing in Wallace at the expense of losing Glen Davis is a good move. Davis has been a pleasant surprise as a second-round draft choice, a solid contributor. But it would be hard for anyone to argue that Davis would be a bigger help for the Celtics in 2009-10 than Wallace.
Wallace can do far more than Davis. Wallace was a key figure as Detroit won an NBA title a few years ago. Yes, Wallace also is a far more difficult personality. Yes, he is the annual league leader in technical fouls. He will not win any awards for sportsmanship. But even before he has officially signed, the vibes are being sent that such issues do not matter for the Celts. The Patriots signed Randy Moss and he is doing fine. Why can't Rasheed Wallace help the Celtics?
What does matter is that the Celts need to keep up in the arms race. Cleveland just signed Shaq. Orlando has brought in Vince Carter. Standing pat would mean the Celtics would be falling behind.
The window of opportunity for the Celtics already was narrow. Garnett and Pierce and Allen only have so much time left. By letting Davis and perhaps Leon Powe go, as well, Danny Ainge is all but openly declaring that the only day that counts is today, not tomorrow.
For the first five years of the 21st century, the Celtics won between 36 and 48 games. They made the playoffs four years in a row, beginning in 2001-02, when they reached the Eastern Conference finals.
Still, they never really were serious NBA title contenders. The team was fine -- that is a nicer word than mediocre -- but it was going nowhere. If anything, it was falling backward in its attempt to hold its place on the Boston sports scene. The Red Sox and the Patriots had begun winning championships. The Celtics had fallen to a distant third on the sports landscape. Thanks to bringing in Garnett and Allen, the Celtics have had two exciting, entertaining and successful seasons. They are a factor again in fan interest.
The strategy with Wallace and Hill is to do everything they can to keep the window as a contender open as long as possible. If that means the bottom falling out in a couple years when everyone gets too old, well, so be it.
That is not necessarily bad. That is better, it can be argued, than being mediocre. Let the bottom fall out. Get back in the lottery, where the hope of rebuilding is greater. Hope you get lucky in the lottery and rebuild.
But that's not the concern for today. Signing Wallace and Hill means getting better for today.