From Blockbuster, To Bust
The writing was on the wall. The trade all Celtics fans knew was coming eventually became reality on draft night 2013, and official on July 12. Celtics mainstays Paul Pierce, 36, and Kevin Garnett, 37, along with Jason Terry were traded to Brooklyn Nets for a crop of role players and several draft picks; draft picks that will transform the Celtics roster during the latter years of this decade.
Six months ago, Celtics fans were asking why President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge was ready to move forward from the Pierce, KG era and into a rebuilding era? An era that was going to be filled with many growing pains, fans were not ready to endure losing after six seasons of fun-filled memories.
On the other end of the spectrum, all of the preseason chatter coming out of Brooklyn was about how the Nets would be a top contender. On paper the starting lineup was spectacular, a starting line-up that has played in a combined 35 all-star games. A starting line-up that would challenge the Miami Heat for supreme supremacy in the Eastern Conference, but so far this season the complete opposite has taken place.
Rookie Head Coach Jason Kidd has not looked the part early on. Already demoting his top assistant and former Celtics Assistant Coach Lawrence Frank due to conflicting coaching styles. Also Kidd had an embarrassing incident against the Los Angeles Lakers where he motioned to one of his players to hit him so he could drop his cup of soda on the court in order to save some time to draw up a play because the Nets were out of timeouts. Kidd was later fined $50.000 for the incident. To add injury to insult, their best player, Deron Williams, has been in and out of the line-up because of lingering ankle issues.
Pierce and Garnett did not sign up for this. They were brought to Brooklyn to be complementary pieces to help Williams, center Brook Lopez and swingman Joe Johnson. Pierce and Garnett are past the point in their careers where they can carry a contender through the rigors of an 82-game regular season. You want those guys rolling post all-star break heading into the postseason not carrying the load in November and December.
With the added burden, Pierce and KG are in the midst of the worst season in their careers. Garnett is averaging an abysmal 6.5 points per game, while Pierce who is currently out four to six weeks with a fractured right hand is averaging only 12.4 points which is well below his career average as well. Both players are frustrated with what’s taking place in Brooklyn so far. At times Pierce looks like he wants back in Boston.
The Celtics did the right thing trading Pierce and KG when they did. The team is competitive night in and night out even without star player Rajon Rondo. Who knows maybe Pierce and KG hinder the younger C’s from developing if they remained on the roster.
The Celtics are the winners of this trade going forward. The future doesn’t look good for Brooklyn. Because of their win now mentally, they have cost themselves opportunities to improve their roster through the draft. The Nets invested a lot in this team; anything less than a Championship will be a failure, and could in fact cost Nets General Manger Billy King his job.
For the Celtics it was time to move on, sure Brooklyn might turn it around eventually, though their chances of coming out of the East are slim to none considering the Heat and the Indiana Pacers are primed to battle it out in that regard. This Nets team as constituted has a shelf life of two seasons, and there are no guarantees Pierce and Garnett will even be back next season.
With the Celtics treading water until Rondo returns, it seems like brighter days are ahead for the green team. Pierce and Garnett deserved one last opportunity at a Championship. This is not what they had in mind but fortunately for them there is still plenty of time to turn things around. For the Celtics devoid of high expectations can play fearlessly and continue to impress critics with every unexpected win.