Austin Rivers an Intriguing Draft Possibility for Celtics, Kevin Garnett Must Take Discount to Return to Boston

Austin Rivers an Intriguing Draft Possibility for Celtics, Kevin Garnett Must Take Discount to Return to BostonThe regular season always seems to fly by for basketball fiends, but this season it really was finished in a flash as less than four weeks remain before the playoffs begin.

If this week's mailbag questions are any indication, Celtics fans are already turning their attention from the current club, which has won five in a row and seven of its last eight games, to the draft and a few offseason acquisition possibilities — and impossibilities.

Let's examine them in this week's mailbag.

Should the Celtics draft Austin Rivers? And what round does he get picked in? – Rich Norton, Fredonia, N.Y.

This is a popular question. After all, Doc Rivers brought Boston another championship; maybe the bloodline is good luck for the Celtics.

Drafting the younger Rivers would make some sense, since he is projected to play the same position as Ray Allen, who becomes a free agent whenever the Celtics' season is complete. Rivers and Rondo could man the Celtics backcourt for the foreseeable future.

That type of stability would be good, but it might not necessarily be the "best" position the Celtics could be in coming out of the draft. This draft is going to be stacked with big men, which conveniently happens to be the Celtics' biggest need. If the Celtics end up picking somewhere in the late teens, post players like North Carolina's Tyler Zeller or John Henson could still be available. It is much more difficult to find an impact big man than an undersized, score-first off-guard, which is how scouting reports describe Rivers.

Also, I'm not as convinced as some people are that Rivers will still be around when the Celtics pick. As I mentioned, this draft is thin on guards. If Rivers gets projected as a point guard, he would surely fall below UNC's Kendall Marshall or Weber State's Damian Lillard and could be available when the Celtics make their selection. But if he's slated as a shooting guard, he could be the first player at his position to come off the board, depending on how he compares in pre-draft camps with UConn's Jeremy Lamb or Florida's Bradley Beal. That would move him into the top 10, way out of Boston's range.

Do you think trading Rondo is a good idea? – Bill Reholi, Toms River, N.J.

He might be the most singularly important player to his team in the NBA. Unless Danny Ainge completely revamps the roster this summer — which he will have the payroll flexibility to do, if he wishes — this Celtics team does not work without Rondo. You've heard about all the great things Rondo does, so we won't rehash those here.

Beyond the basketball reasons, though, Rondo would be one of the most prized point guards in the league because of his salary, which is about $11 million according to ShamSports. Next year, his salary will be dwarfed by Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and Chris Paul, who will each make 50 percent or more than Rondo. He makes roughly the same amount as Steve Nash, only he is 12 years younger. Somehow, he only makes about $2 million per year more than Jameer Nelson, which makes me wish Nelson's agent represented me. Not only does Rondo provide MVP-caliber impact, he does it on the (relative) cheap.

Do you think Kevin Garnett will re-sign? – Tommy Miranda via Facebook

In mid-January I would have said no. Garnett was not playing well and the Celtics looked like a team on its last legs. Since then, Garnett has become the best defensive center this side of Dwight Howard and the Celtics are rolling. The ultimate question is how much money Garnett wants. If he seeks a salary even approaching his current $21 million, he will be in for a surprise. But he will not get that amount anywhere, so he may be able to return to Boston on a hometown discount.

What would we need to do to get Kevin Love? – @thenotoriousMPP via Twitter

Think of the haul the Celtics gave up in 2007 to land Garnett. Got that? OK, now completely forget it, because not even a package like that could convince the Wolves to trade away Love. Love's rookie contract expires at the end of this season, but he signed a four-year extension in January, so he will be in Minnesota for a while.

Love is an incredible player and has blossomed into one of the best power forwards in the game, but his biggest fans seem to be the people who have watched him play the least and just see his gaudy box scores. From watching them both more than a dozen times each this season, I'd still take Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge over Love in a heartbeat, because Aldridge plays this little thing called "defense," can pass and has an even more advanced arsenal of post moves. But I digress.

Here's the good news for Love lovers: His contract extension has a player opt-out clause after three years, so he could be available as a free agent again when he is only 26 years old.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.