Some people want the C’s to rebuild, some people want to hang on to Pierce and Garnett, and I understand where both sides are coming from. But that got me thinking, what’s the average or typical or realistic rebuilding time for a team?
Now there is rarely a clear consensus about who actually is a contender, but for the sake of this discussion of rebuilding times, I considered a team a contender when they win 50 games (or 61% win % for lockouts) and make the 2nd round of the playoffs (though this is just a guideline, not a rule). So let’s take a look at how much time teams spend between being contenders:
Atlanta was last a contender in 1999 and didn’t become somewhat of a contender again until 2010. That’s 11 years (and most probably wouldn't even consider them contenders the last few years).
Boston was a contender in 1992 and didn’t become a contender again until 2008. That’s 16 years.
Brooklyn was a contender from 2002 to 2006 and that was it unless you go back to their ABA days. But some would argue they’re a contender now (though not on pace for 50 wins). Best case was 7 years rebuilding till now. Before Kidd got there, it was about 25 years rebuilding.
Charlotte has never been a contender in 9 years.
Chicago was a contender in 1998 and wasn’t a contender again until 2011. That’s 13 years.
Cleveland was a contender in ’93 and wasn’t a contender again until 2006. That’s 13 years, and despite Irving looking awesome, who knows when they’ll be a contender again.
Dallas was a contender in ’88 and wasn’t a contender again until 2001. That’s 13 years, but they had a solid 10+ year run after that.
Denver was a contender in ’88 and wasn’t a contender again until 2009. That’s 21 years.
Detroit was a contender in ’91 and wasn’t a contender again until 2002. That’s 11 years.
Golden State was a contender in ’76 and hasn’t been a contender since until this year. That’s 36 years until now.
Houston was a contender in ’99 and only made the 2nd round once since, when both their superstars (TMac and Yao) were injured. Though even though they didn’t make it out of the 2nd round except that one time, I would consider them a dark horse contender in the mid-to-late 2000’s with Yao and TMac. So they probably had a 6 year stretch of rebuilding between Hakeem and Yao, and currently been rebuilding for about 4 years now.
Indiana was a contender in 2000, again in 2004, and again in 2012. They’ve been able to build 3 different contenders in 12 years, that front office has been pretty underrated in my opinion.
LA Clippers were never a contender until this season. That’s 42 seasons.
LA Lakers were contenders in ’91, then again from ’96-’05,then again from ’08-’12. So they had a 5 year and 3 year rebuild.
Memphis was never a contender (though is probably one now, it may be very brief though with them cutting salary). That’s 17 years.
Miami was a contender in 2001, again from ’05-’06, and again starting in 2011.
Milwaukee was probably last contenders in ’91, then contended again for a year in 2001, hasn’t been a contender since. So they’ve basically been rebuilding 21 of the last 22 years.
Minnesota was a contender for one year, 2004, one year in their entire 24 year history.
New Orleans was a contender in 2008, and that was about it. (Though you could probably argue they were dark horses a couple of years in the early 2000’s.). So all but a handful of seasons at best in 24 years, have been spent rebuilding.
New York was last a contender in 2000, and hasn’t been a contender again till this year. That’s 12 years.
OKC/Seattle was a contender in 1998, had a fluke year in 2005, and then again in 2011. Excluding 2005 (Ray/Rashard’s team), they’ve been rebuilding for 12 of 13 years until recently.
Orlando was a contender in ’96, then again from ’08-’11. That’s 12 years of rebuilding, for a 304 year run.
Philly was a contender in 1990, then again for one season (or maybe two) with Iverson in ’99 and ’00, and hasn’t been a contender again since. So a 9 year rebuilding period, for a 2 year run. Followed by at least a 13 year rebuilding period (that may go much longer, who knows how Bynum will perform as the main man).
Phoenix was a contender in 1995, then again from 2005-2010. (And possibly from ’98-’01 when they had three 50 win seasons, but only made it out of the 1st round once). At worst, 10 years between contenders.
Portland was a contender in 2000, kept hope alive until 2003, then have been rebuilding for 10 years now.
Sacramento had a 4-5 year stretch from ’01-’05 when they were contenders, and besides that you have to go back to when they played in Cincinnati and Rochester to find when they were last contenders. They’ve been rebuilding for 8 years now.
San Antonio, except for a couple of seasons have been contenders pretty much since 1990.
Toronto has never been a contender in 18 years
Utah had a pretty solid 20 year run as contenders, ending about 2001, and then a 4 year stretch from ’07-’10. That’s a 5 year rebuild, who knows how long till they’re contenders again.
Washington hasn’t been a contender since 1979. That’s 33 years.
Maybe you can argue a team or two, but I see a lot of 10+ year stretches between contenders for the majority of teams. And the rebuild time is typically longer than the good times. It even takes premier destinations like LAL and Miami 3-5 years to rebuild. Another premier destination, New York has been rebuilding for 12 years. It’s rare when you get a San Antonio, Dallas, Utah who can contend for 10+ years straight. And you have only a handful of non-premier destinations like Indiana who were able to rebuild somewhat quickly.
It doesn’t matter when you start rebuilding, it can take a long time. I think we should ride Garnett and Pierce to retirement. The idea that the C's can rebuild in 3 or so years is just a pipe dream. I think Danny is a great GM, but even so, it’s rare when a team can rebuild in a short period of time. It takes a lot of luck.