As they stand now, the Boston Celtics are in prime tanking position: they have a dismantled roster, some good young talent, and a brand new coach who, though brilliant, will need at least a year to adjust to the NBA.
Tanking the 2013-2014 season is definitely in the best interest of the Celtics. Even if they miss out on Wiggins, there are plenty more can't-miss prospects at the top of the draft, such as Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, and Andrew Harrison. If the Celtics secure a top-5, or even a top-8 pick, they are almost guaranteed to get a future star.
In order to succeed in the NBA, you have to either be really good, or really bad. The "middle-of-the-pack" teams that play for the eighth seed every single year (sorry, Milwaukee Bucks fans) have very little chance of improving themselves through the draft or free agency. Only certain teams have a good chance of luring marquee free agents, but any team can draft a superstar. It is much better to completely tank one year to get a top-5 pick than to pick 12th or 13th every year.
But how much would it really benefit the Celtics to throw away this season?
First of all, with all the teams prepared to tank for the 2014 draft class, Boston is less than guaranteed a top-5 pick. The Celtics will have to compete against teams such as the Sixers, Bobcats, Magic, Bucks, Suns, and Jazz, who all promise to be at least a little terrible next year. Sure, this draft class is stacked, and there will be great talent all the way to the teens, but Boston fans will be disappointed by anything less than Wiggins or Parker.
Second, let's not forget about the most valuable asset the Celtics still hold: Rajon Rondo. Rondo just went from playing with multiple Hall-of-Famers and a revered coach to playing with Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass, and a bunch of underachieving(Courtney Lee, Kris Humphries), overpaid(Gerald Wallace), or unproven(Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk) misfits. He doesn't have a backup, or reliable shooters to kick out to, or a experienced coach that can at least temper his aggressive personality.
So why would Rondo want to be in Boston? He only has two years left on his contract, and can use that as leverage to push for a trade. No team wants to deal with a disgruntled star, especially a young team with a young coach.
And perhaps more importantly: Do the Celtics even want Rondo?
Rondo will be 28 by the end of next season, at the peak of his prime. He doesn't seem to fit into their long-term plan of building through the draft, and Rondo wants no part of losing 60 games a year. Right now, he is still considered one of the best floor generals in the league; after he returns from his injury, will his trade value drop considerably? Even if his knee heals completely, Rondo is at his best when he attacks and distributes. He needs reliable shooters and finishers around him as he is not a natural scorer by any means.
In other words, Rondo helped Pierce, Allen, and Garnett as much as the Big Three helped him. Rondo got them open shots and easy looks at the basket, lessening their workload and possibly extending their careers. The Big Three made Rondo look good by making shots and making plays, padding his assist numbers. They took on a leadership role on and off the court, allowing Rondo to focus on playing his game. They had his respect, and perhaps that stopped him from causing as much trouble as he could have.
The Celtics might hold out Rondo for much of next season either to tank or to preserve his value. He will no doubt help the Celtics, but if he plays for most of the season, the holes in his game will be further exposed, dropping his trade value. Another option is for the Celtics to trade him now. Detroit is definitely interested, and Rondo will no doubt embrace the opportunity to play with his old buddy Josh Smith. It seems unlikely that Detroit will be willing to give up Drummond or Monroe, but a package centered around Brandon Knight, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and picks should intrigue the Celtics.
This will be an ugly year for the Celtics. And until they figure out what to do with Rajon Rondo, it is just going to get uglier.