- The Season's Over -

Kevin Garnett Packs His Bags

July 30, 2007

The Savior

I could not be more thrilled about this trade, one of the biggest in the NBA over the last decade, and one which completely blindsided me (in terms of timing, at least). As frequent readers know, that’s coming from the perspective of a Timberwolves fan, a Celtics fan and a huge Kevin Garnett fan. I’m ecstatic for the guy, who finally has a legitimate cast of characters around him to succeed. I’m thrilled for the Celtics and their proud, loyal fans. And I’m happy for the rudderless Minnesota franchise and fans who finally have a plan and a future to be excited about.

I’ve been glued to my laptop all afternoon, itching to write this piece. First it was Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a No. 1 pick to Minnesota to acquire Garnett. Then it was Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and two first-round picks to the Timberwolves for Garnett. After that, scuttlebutt had the Celtics sending Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and two first-round picks to the Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett. According to an anonymous Celtics official, it’s now a done deal, could be announced this evening, and looks like this: Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and two future first-round picks to the Timberwolves for Garnett.

I consider myself to be a bigger Kevin Garnett fan than a Timberwolves fan. He has done everything within his power to earn my loyalty over the years, something that cannot be said of Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale. I’ve always believed that KG is a consummate professional who plays a brand of basketball that makes everyone around him better and should lead to winning. Sadly, over the last few years the latter has not been the case and Garnett has fallen out of public favor. Though he has always been considered a stellar player, critics from all corners have begun to question his ability to win.

Perhaps they have been fair given the records Minnesota has posted during lean years and the crushing playoff defeats in winning seasons. The problem is, this warrior has never had a supporting cast befitting of his considerable talent, skills and efforts. It would have been one of the great tragedies in NBA history if his career had quietly wound down in Minnesota, his fate forever tied to the incompetence of Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders. Forever a loser. At the very least, Garnett deserved a chance to prove that he could be a winner somewhere. He now has that chance. If he fails, then let the critics speak. But Kevin Garnett deserved a shot.

“Garnett is a throwback superstar, a Bill Russell for the modern age. When some people conjure up Russell they visualize the consummate winner, a man who led his teams to 11 NBA championships. But I link the two men by personality. By all reports, Russell shares Garnett’s intelligence, grace, and intensity. And, in his defense, Garnett has never had a Cousy or a Havlicek.

Unfortunately, it could be that the modern age has no use for Bill Russell. One of Garnett’s greatest strengths—his loyalty—is laughably out of place in the superstar-focused NBA . . .

Garnett has never complained about the mediocre supporting casts he’s been given . . . Garnett has embraced the state of Minnesota like a taller, darker version of Prince. Even this year, with his team in a tailspin and his own game under scrutiny, Garnett did nothing to shift the blame.” – Paul Shirley

Feeling Minnesota: This is the first time that Kevin McHale has pulled off a trade since acquiring Sam Cassell that didn’t immediately elicit a groan for even casual fans. I still consider him to be the worst general manager in basketball, but McHale deserves credit for getting this much value in return for Garnett. It’s been time to acknowledge the fact that Minnesota was not going to win a title with KG in his prime for over two years, and this summer management finally grasped that concept. Garnett could have opted out of his contract after this season, which would undoubtedly have been another disheartening campaign for the 31-year-old star, and Minnesota was in serious danger of getting nothing besides salary cap room in return. To be honest, I’m shocked that the Wolves will receive this kind of value at this stage in the game.

Al Jefferson

Al Jefferson was perhaps the most promising power forward in basketball after the All-Star break last season. During the stretch run he put up an exceptional line: 19.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.1 steals, 55.4% FGs and (most importantly for the foul-prone youngster) just 3.0 fouls per game. He finally came into his own in his third year after being the 15th overall pick out of Prentiss High School in Mississippi. Coming out of high school, he was a 2004 McDonald’s All American and averaged an incredible 42 points, 16 rebounds and 9 blocks during his senior season. Make no mistake about it, Jefferson will be an All-Star in this league more than once in the next decade. His defense could use a little work, but he’s learned to clean the glass and possesses exceptional polish on the offensive end for a player his size and age. His success a year ago is no accident: Al is finally committed to doing what it takes to succeed at this level. He’s been putting in the hours at the gym and showed up last season 30 pounds lighter than the previous year.

The loss of KG is going to leave a massive hole in the interior scoring, rebounding and interior defense categories that no player in the NBA could fill, but for a rebuilding franchise Jefferson is as good a candidate as any. And he’ll have help from Craig Smith, a diamond in the rough selected in the second round last season. Speaking of rebuilding, it says here that Baby Al will be a better power forward than KG in five years. That’s what the Wolves and their fans should be concerned about: the future. They actually have one now.

That future is now in the hands of an extremely exciting young core of players, something that hasn’t been the case in T-Wolves Country for over a decade. The franchise has been living a day-to-day existence, so consumed with patching the holes in today’s ship that there has been no time nor opportunity to chart a long-term course towards success. As regrettable as it is that Minnesota could not reward Kevin’s tireless work ethic in impeccable loyalty with a deserving supporting cast, the removal of KG frees the Wolves from a biological clock that threatened to bring an extended and bitter era to Minnesota basketball as he wore down and after he retired. In the place of such moribund eventualities lies a future of possibility.

In addition to the aforementioned Jefferson, the Wolves core also features this year’s 7th overall draft pick SF Corey Brewer, last year’s 7th overall pick PG/SG Randy Foye, last year’s Slam Dunk Champ and ETB favorite Gerald Green, 2004′s 13th overall pick Sebastian Telfair (a potentially worthless player, and also a potential future starting PG), at least one first-round pick (either two first-rounders or one and super-sub Ryan Gomes), the extremely underrated PF Craig Smith and the expiring contract of Theo Rattliff (Which will kick in for “the most intriguing months of free agency in the history of the NBA“).

The Future of MinnesotaI project Randy Foye and Al Jefferson as future All-Stars. Foye is a beast in the backcourt who has a knack for clutch play, and if you look at their per minute averages, he posted nearly identical stats to ROY Brandon Roy last season (per 48 minutes: 21.3 points, 1.7 threes, 5.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 steals for Foye; 22.7 points, 1.3 threes, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.6 steals for Roy). He just needs to figure out if he’s a PG or SG. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Gerald Green is as athletically thrilling as any player in the NBA today and possesses a feathery shot (36.8% 3-pointers, 80.5% FGs). He could be a household name within three years. Corey Brewer was the best outside defender in this draft. While he needs to bulk up, he has the tools on both ends to be an excellent player. I’m not going to talk about Sebastian Telfair, suffice it to say I’m not a fan.

Down low the Wolves will now start Mark Blount and Al Jefferson, two players who are relatively soft on D. Enter Craig Smith, an absolute bull. Smith is a box-out in a box. A Menacing, muscular 6’7″ power forward who is as strong as anybody underneath. He can guard powerful centers and power forwards, Jefferson can guard tall centers and power forwards. Jefferson is a scorer who needs the ball, Smith is a scrappy player who makes good things happen without it. They’ll be a nice pair.

The problem now is that Minnesota fans were so attached to Garnett, and rightfully so, that the burden placed on these youngster’s shoulders could be too much. If the Wolves go 32-50 this season (not an unlikely scenario in the West) people will be quick to condemn the trade, stop buying tickets and leave the franchise adrift. I urge all loyal Wolves fans not to take that course of action. This is a promising young core, a nucleus of future success. Embrace these young men as you did Guggliotta, Marbury and Garnett ten years ago. It will pay off. The next step for the franchise is to rid itself of the diabolical duo that runs it: Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale. I have no faith in those two to show the patience and foresight necessary to capitalize on this opportunity that has fallen into their laps. As long as they remain, the team will always be on the verge of peril. Despite them, Minnesota basketball fans should be optimistic for their own team and happy for their departed superstar who gave them so much the last 12 years.

Paul Pierce is HugeBoston’s Pride Again: Perhaps I owe Danny Ainge an apology. I was less than glowing in my review of the Ray Allen Acquisition. At the end of last season Boston had one of the most impressive collections of young talent in the NBA and I thought this was a team that needed to plan for the next decade, not to fill the seats in 2007-08. Apparently Ainge had a plan though. He has converted a stable of ‘could be great’ and ‘should be good’ players into a collection of sure-fire, veteran superstars whose games are, in fact, complementary. They now have the three essential forms of scoring in the NBA: a post-up threat, a deadly outside shooter and an exceptional penetrator. They also have three players who have been All-Stars in the last two years, all three of them professionals whose egos should have no problem gelling. Going into the coming season, there is no trio in the NBA that is more skillful and complete than Allen, Pierce and Garnett. While the Pistons and Suns clearly have superior auxiliary players, I would take these guys over Nash, Marion and Stoudamire; over Billups, Wallace and Prince; over Kidd, Carter and Jefferson; over McGrady, Yao and Francis; over Iverson, Anthony and Camby; over Williams, Boozer and Okur; over any trio out there.

We all remember what KG did with Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell on the perimeter, leading them to a difficult defeat in the Western Conference Finals at the hands of the Lakers. Those are two players who, at that stage of their careers, couldn’t hold a candle to the duo of Ray Allen and Pierce of today. For my money Ray Allen is still the NBA’s best perimeter threat. His pure outside shot is a thing of beauty and he should be able to make any team pay for double-teaming Garnett. The commonality among these three stars is their versatility and selflessness, exemplified by their passing ability. Ray Allen has averaged 3.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 4.6 rebounds a game for his career while being the primary scoring option on every team he’s been on. Paul Piece has averaged 3.9 assists, 6.5 boards and 1.3 steals despite being his team’s go-to-guy for nine years. Garnett has put up a remarkable 11.4 boards, 4.5 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.7 blocks while carrying the offensive load for Minnesota lo these many years. These guys all know how to play basketball beyond simply putting the ball in the basket.

Ray Allen: Pure It’s an odd twist of fate for Garnett and Allen. They are reunited after Kevin McHale traded Ray for Stephon Marbury on draft night in 1996. Eleven years later, they still make as much sense together as they did then. In my darker, more inebriated moments as a Wolves’ fan, the potential of these two still together causes painful and extended bouts of ‘What if . . . ‘ I can’t imagine two quiet superstars who play the game the ‘right way’ more than Garnett and Allen, in every aspect of the sport. With Pierce, there will be no way to defend these three together. Garnett can beat any power forward in the East, outside of Rasheed Wallace, one-on-one. If teams decide to collapse on him he’ll have two options. He can feed the most prolific outside shooter of this era in Ray Allen (2.4 3-pointers on 39.7% from long range) or he can find one of the best slashers around, Paul Pierce, on his way to the hole. Either way, you know KG is not going to force the issue himself. He’s a team player who prides himself on finding the open man. He’s generous with teammates, sometimes to a fault in Minnesota. But where he might have been punished for not being more selfish with the Wolves, here he will be rewarded with accomplished and competent running mates.

In all late-game situations, my hat goes off to the team that can keep all three of these stars in check. None can be defended one-on-one. All can and will pass when necessary. All can break down defenses. And considering they will be the only guys to handle the ball, you can’t foul. Ray Allen is a premier free throw shooter (88.8% Career), Garnett has been stellar from the line over his career (81+% the last three years, 78% overall), and Pierce is a known clutch player who will make his (79.1% career). While Garnett has been lacking in late-game heroics over his career, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are as clutch as they come in pressure situations. If they get a lead late, what does an opposing team do? If an opposing team doesn’t blow them out, what do they do in a close game? I don’t want to be the coach who has to deal with these savvy, ringless, motivated veterans in any fourth quarter, let alone the playoffs.

There will be two complementary pieces in the starting lineup alongside these three giants, and it would be tough to find young, affordable options who would fit in much better. In Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins the Celts have scrappy players who can do all the dirty work inside and outside. Perkins is purely a defensive center who’s only buckets will come in mopping up for the Big Three, but he’s a big body who can rebound, block shots, give up some fouls and defend post players reasonably well. He should also be better this year in staying out of foul trouble. Most importantly, he doesn’t need the ball to be effective. Rajon Rondo is a great talent who has massive hands in the passing lanes, a nose for the ball, great penetration-and-dish skills and good ball-handling ability. He, too, doesn’t need the ball to be effective. In addition, they have Tony Allen. He’s a major question mark right now, but he has all the makings of a defensive stopper near the arc and is capable of scoring 15 points himself. Still, depending on how the final package shapes up they will need to find about 4 players just to reach the NBA’s minimum roster size of 12. And they’ll be depending on three guys around or over the age of 30 to play huge minutes night in and night out. I’m not worried.

“Celtics radio guy Sean Grande announced Minny games during KG’s initial ascent and argued KG’s merits as an underrated superduperstar ever since. I asked him for a one-sentence description of KG and here’s what he e-mailed back: ‘All out, every night, heart and soul — Game 13 in Atlanta, Game 61 on a Monday night aganst Charlotte, Game 6 of the Conference finals, doesn’t matter.’”
- From Bill Simmons’ Take

IntenseAside from the fate of either team, this trade is going to be especially informative on Kevin Garnett as a person. For a long time, I’ve found Garnett fascinating on a level that transcends the basketball court. He’s a paragon of excellence, professionalism and loyalty. More interesting, he’s emblematic of a psychology that is no less impressive than it is painful to empathize with. Garnett is unlike any athlete I have followed in my years as a sports fan. At the risk of sounding cliché (and 60 years old), today’s superstar athlete is becoming epitomized by the eccentric punk and becoming more and more difficult for the average sports fan to understand and support. Garnett is the antithesis of this movement: a man who cares deeply about his performance, about his team, about his fans, about his community, about consistent excellent, about winning. As Paul Shirley recently wrote in his excellent column, “Kevin Garnett is one of the most impressive humans I’ve ever been around. Kobe Bryant isn’t.”

Garnett is throwback. A man whose overactive conscience allays any concerns over his excessive salary. He is selfless to a fault, willing to pass to a teammate when he should force a shot himself and harder on himself than any crass columnist ever could be. He is always willing and painfully able to subjugate his Id with a Super Ego that we can understand. I have never watched a Timberwolves game and felt that Garnett cared less about the outcome than I did. Perhaps most interesting, I have never thought that his greed or hubris was catalyst for his performance. Meanwhile, I have watched countless star athletes achieve greater success when it was obvious that they had been motivated by such greed and hubris. Garnett’s conscience has handcuffed him to failure for years, but was it merely due to the sub-par teams he was on? Could a selfless and conscientious player who cares more for the game than himself succeed in this game? Perhaps we have the rare opportunity to find out.

After the Wolves passed on the deal with Chicago last season that would have netted Tyson Chandler, Luol Deng and LaMarcus Aldridge I was crushed. As a Wolves fan and, more powerfully, as a Garnett fan. Then my hope was renewed this offseason, after all the hype had me convinced he would be moved on draft night. Again, I was crushed. I was cautiously optimistic about talk out of the Bay Area that a deal was in the works with the Warriors, and patiently waiting until Brandon Wright could be moved on the 8th of August. Then I saw the headlines today.

After all of the bad publicity the NBA has received over the last week because of the Tim Donaghy scandal, basketball fans everywhere finally have cause for celebration. Far from being embarrassed over the state of the NBA and feeling the need to coddle the casual fan in the face of allegations of widespread impropriety, because of today’s news I am next to giddy and can’t remember a time when I was more interested in the league at this time of year. I’m excited for the Celtics. I’m excited for the Timberwolves. I’m excited for Kevin Garnett. I can’t wait to see Garnett don the Celtic green. I can’t wait for opening night.

24 Comments »Posted by Andrew Thell on Jul. 30, 2007 at 10:45 pm in ETB Articles, NBA, NBA Fantasy News

24 Responses

The T Wolves needed to make this deal and get some value for Garnett, and this is pretty good value. Garnett needed to move on and so let’s see what the Celtics can do with him (and what he can do for the Celts). My only problem as a T Wolves fan is that the Three Stooges (McHale, Taylor, and Wittman) will not capitalize on this opportunity. I have ZERO faith in Wittman, but we shall see.

Posted by: gurf morlix on July 30th, 2007 at 11:22 pm

An excellent analysis of the deal and the future of those Boston Celtics.
As a Sixers fan, and an A.I. fan for the past decade, I share your feelings about wasted talent and the squandering of potential. I just cant believe that Billy King and McHale could not figure out a deal to get Allen and Kevin on the same team.
However you look at it, Boston will be the best team in the East and should make it to the finals barring some Warriors/Dallas 2006-07 playoffs fluke.

Posted by: Mike on July 31st, 2007 at 12:04 am

It takes a big man to admit he is happy for a mega-super-duper star whose made over 200 million dollars…I don’t know if I could do that, and you know I have a real soft spot for Garnett, how could a true NBA fan not love this guy? I like the comment that you never felt like you wanted the T-Wolves to win more than Garnett…I mean, that’s been every player in a Knick uniform, besides David Lee, in the last three years. It’s one of the reasons the NBA can be hard to defend at the watercooler.

In fact Garnett works twofold. He’s everything right and wrong with the league…

Love the intensity (you can’t fake that), his upright citizenship, the fact that he has always been the anti-Duncan without being a villain, and he’s amazing to watch. Ok, I wish he played with his back to the basket a bit more, but he’s a Hall of Famer, a freak of nature, an on-court coach, and easy to root for.

But he’s not perfect…I know that he restructured his contract with the T-Wolves and took less money, but when I look at it now it’s almost laughable. He is the highest paid player in the NBA, his two major contracts have been for like 120 mil, then resigned for 100 mil. Now I’m the first person to agree with you that Kevin McHale makes Billy King look like Bryan Colangelo, but with a salary cap – even a soft one like they have in the NBA – it’s not that easy to rope a super star talent to Minnesota for less money than they could get by duping Isiah, or sneaking into the locker room in Atlanta. Especially considering 1) the cold weather in Minn 2) the lack of marketing opportunities. If Garnett was paid a measly 90 million, or even an insulting 70 million, perhaps they could have made a real offer to someone special after Cassell left for the coast. Maybe Spree was just saying what everyone else was thinking.

As far as the talent that Minnesota received in return, that all remains to be seen. I’m big on GG, just for pure entertainment value, but I’m not as high on Al Jefferson. As far as he has come in the last three years the fact that he’s moving to the Western conference means another (perhaps lengthy) adjustment period. I see foul trouble on the horizon. Bassy should have never been in the NBA in the first place, and Ryan Gomes, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants are still TBD. You can see the young talent banding together and looking Bulls-esque, or…not. Although, gotta credit T-Wolves fans, you guys are as patient waiting for your team to win as you are waiting for the last snow bank to melt in the Twin Cities. You won’t sniff the Western Conference finals for at least another five years, but if you’re ok, I’m ok.

One question remains…when do you fire Doc?

Prediction: Eastern Conf Finals, Boston over Detroit 4-2.

By the way, if I were Wally I would be scared that some unfortunate “accident” is coming this summer…Garnett knows people.

Posted by: Stu Jackson is a tool on July 31st, 2007 at 7:46 am

Thanks for the thoughtful comments Stu, always nice to have a conversation that doesn’t end with me opening my wallet.

I think Doc gets the benefit of the doubt for now, but his future is in the hands of the stars. If these guys want him gone, he’s gone. This team is only looking at a three-year window of opportunity right now. Ryan McNeill over at Hoops Addict in on board with you:

“Throw in the fact that this franchise is being coached by Doc Rivers and it’s downright laughable that people are already talking about Boston as being the top team in the Eastern Conference next season . . . I’m not a huge fan of Rivers and I feel that his career winning percentage of .467% backs me up.

While Boston’s team looks great on paper – and would be a title contender if this were fantasy hoops – Celtics Nation should be mortified with what Danny Ainge has done with the team this summer by mortgaging their once bright future.”

Posted by: Andrew on July 31st, 2007 at 9:04 am

I don’t understand the talk about “mortgaging the once bright future” when it comes to this trade. That “bright future” was in all likelihood just a pipe dream anyway… or, in NBA terms, a Hawks moment.

I guess we’ll see how bright that future really was in how Minny does this season, but is anyone bold enough to project them for the playoffs? I doubt they top 30 wins.

Boston cleans up in the deal; the only question is can they find enough role players to fill out the rest of the squad to compliment the three All-Stars and Rondo.

Posted by: stopmikelupica on July 31st, 2007 at 12:17 pm

You said you’d take this trio over any in the league? What about Duncan, Parker, and Manu? I’d take them over this trio. Sure these guys look good together on paper, but they haven’t played together. You can’t leave out how playing together makes you better. You can throw all-stars together but if they can’t play together they won’t go very far. Not to mention only Garnett plays D. The other two do not. And the Celtics don’t have a bench anymore. They’ll be better than last year, but this won’t guarantee them a spot in the Eastern Conference finals let alone a championship.

And you still have Doc Rivers as coach. He’s bound to screw this up.

Posted by: Fred on July 31st, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Great article and analysis. I am a long-time Celtics fan and have always enjoyed KG’s intensity, loyalty, and pure athleticism, so I’m really looking foward to opening night.

Posted by: eileen on July 31st, 2007 at 2:11 pm

This is a sensational analysis. As a Boston fan, I was a little bummed to lose all the youngins I’d grown attacthed to, but you made me see it in a new light. I too am giddy, now. Thanks much.

Posted by: Steve on July 31st, 2007 at 2:18 pm

Couldn’t have said it better myself. I personally think that the Wolves are in a world of trouble, at least for the next couple of years. They will definitely have to add some pieces to become competitive. Boston is going to be so fun to watch next year!

Posted by: Stu Holdren on July 31st, 2007 at 2:35 pm

For the first time in over a decade, the Celtics become must-see TV, and no longer a Barkley punchline. I say they compete for the finals this year, and as you saw with the Mavs-Warriors, anything can happen in a seven game series. I think they are one free agent pickup away, but so is half of the Eastern Conference for that matter. The pessimist in me says they are no better than the Kidd-Jefferson-Carter trio, and we know how that’s worked out. The optimist in me says Ainge may finally traded his way into the hearts of the Boston faithful.

Posted by: Lenny Lewis on July 31st, 2007 at 4:19 pm

As a Woofie fan I am ecstatic with this trade. This trade has to be viewed in 2009/10 and beyond. Why? Because Duncan/Nash/Dirk are KG’ish in age and are set to start winding down. This trade is great for the Wolves because their ascendancy should be well-timed to the drop that will come to the Big 3 out west. Now the Wolves are well positioned to be amongst the New Breed Big Three, if you will, come November-ish 2009 or 10. Seattle, Portland and probably Memphis and Utah are in that mix as well.

There are many “ifs” to that future becoming reality for the Wolves, to be sure.

Big Al has to become the All Star 4/5 that he can be.

Gerald Green needs to be that 20 per night scorer.

Foye needs to become the leader and big shot taker.

Rashad has to overcome the micro to be a darn nice 6th man.

Brew has to become the lockdown defender the draftniks see in him.

Craig Smith, Chris Richard and Ryan Gomes just have to be solid hustlers and team guys.

The future #1s need to be correctly selected.

So, many “ifs” but I like these “ifs” better than the lowly schedule fodder for “Dirk Nowitzki Growth Poster Night” that are Blount, Ricky, T-Hud and Marko.

Posted by: Mark on July 31st, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Very nice analysis. You really took the reader into the mind of Kevin Garnett. Coming from the Boston area, I am thrilled to see these guys play together. My only concern is the bench. Yes, Tony Allen is good, but will he find the minutes he needs playing back up behind Ray Allen? What about the other second string positions such as pointguard and center?

I’m sure Ainge is looking to fill these holes, but without the money, who can he afford to sign?

Posted by: Dan Jenkins on July 31st, 2007 at 4:31 pm

Everyone keeps asking why the Celtics are a finals threat?

1) Did you see the team that made it last year? Eric Snow was there starting point guard for most of the season, and then a guy named Bo-obie went off.

2) The Bulls have absolutely no inside scoring threat. I mean Zero. If the Bulls get Pau, I’ll give them the edge. But until then, they are an above average, well coached team, that has no offensive power in the paint. KG would murder them.

3) Did you see how D-Wade almost single-handedly took the Heat to the finals two years ago? This was a team with a gimpy Gary Payton and a horrible Walker getting tons of minutes. Shaq WAS dominant, but he is no more.

4) I would agree that Detroit is the favorite. They have the pieces, the chemistry, and the been-there before experience. But they also have Rasheed’s attitude to deal with.

5) The Atlantic Division is the worst division in maybe all of sports. The Celtics should pad there record enough so that they won’t have to face Detroit until the Conference Finals.

6) Toronto is good, but that is all. They need 2-3 more years, and one more legit scoring threat. Otherwise they will be what they are now – a lighter version of the Bulls.

7) The Celtics still have multiple spots they have to fill up. Who knows what veterans they will now be able to get on the cheap?

So the Celtics have to beat the Pistons in 7 to get to the finals.

I say good luck to both and let the best team win!!!

Posted by: Firooz on July 31st, 2007 at 4:39 pm

To suggest that Pierce doesn’t play D is downright wrong, just like suggesting that Doc is anything but a practice coach. It will be interesting to see how all three players gel especially after teams start clogging the middle and sitting on Allen (not like Rivers could spell adjustment). Regardless its great for the NBA (especially now according to the oddmakers) and a still proud Franchise.
Celtic Pride!

Posted by: Matt on July 31st, 2007 at 4:42 pm

The problem with the trio argument is that this one does not have a floor general whereas all the top trios do. Tony Parker, Chauncy, and Nash run their offense. That’s what a great point guard does. Rondo has zero experience. Talent wise, this is the best trio. But I would rather see a equally talent PG instead of either Ray Allen. You need someone who will be able to control the tempo, control the game, and get everyone their shots.

1) To say Rondo is ready to do that is over ambitious.

2) Just cause these guys have great basketball IQs and have solid assist stats, does not make them a point guard.

Posted by: Firooz on July 31st, 2007 at 4:50 pm

my first reaction to this was omg they are giving half the team away for a one year rental but now a extension has been finalized….great move danny I got more on my blog
trizzknowssports.blogspot.com read it comment it love it

Posted by: Trizz on July 31st, 2007 at 4:54 pm

This article was a great read. I enjoyed it very much!

For all the talk the past few years of Danny Ainge being an oddball GM, he sure managed to bring some legitimacy back to the Celtics this offseason.

Too many GMs bank on potential and are afraid to pull the trigger on trades because they have grand dreams of what their young guys will become. Those dreams are rarely fulfilled. This is certainly no comment on Al Jefferson and the others involved in this trade, but it’s fun to see Ainge go a different route and see what he can do here and now. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett? I’m amazed. In what situation should a GM not attempt to assemble this lineup? How can anyone criticize this?

The last time something like this happened was when Mitch Kupchak brought Karl Malone and Gary Payton to the Lakers to join Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. That lineup failed to actually capture a championship –and there was quite a bit of dissension and turmoil among the personnel– but I don’t think anyone can really say that Kupchack made a mistake. If you see a grand opportunity present itself, you grab it.

I’m also amazed to see that Ainge not only obtained two legitimate All-Stars without giving up the one he already had but that the two new guys are celebrated class acts, seemingly as selfless off the court as on it. These are three players who I find very easy to root for, all the more so now that they are together as a unit.

I’m a diehard Lakers fan, born and raised in Los Angeles, so this is extremely tough for me to admit: I’d rather root for the Celtics this next season than the Lakers.

The insipid drama that is Kobe Bryant has drawn out longer than I can endure. All the high-flying, last-second heroics cannot make up for his obviously affected claims of loyalty to our city. His disingenuous posturing has worn thin, and we Angelenos now see him as the selfish, childish finger-pointer that others have seen for some time.

So I’ll never wear a Boston jersey but I’ll be tuning in to watch the new Beantown triple threat at work. At the least, I can claim to be cheering for hometown boy Pierce (Inglewood High) and hope to not be burned at the stake by my fellow Angelenos.

Posted by: Jezreel on July 31st, 2007 at 4:55 pm

Great article. I’m a Boston fan who is sad to see Big Al go, as I think that he already has arguably the best low post moves in the NBA. He learned what it takes to succeed (personally) in the past couple of years, and he’s going to continue to improve. Gerald Green has tantalizing talent, and hopefully for the Wolves he figures it out over the next couple of years. Danny Ainge now looks like a guy who may have actually had a plan all along. Putting these three all-stars together in their (late) prime is a hell of an accomplishment that didn’t look possible after lottery day. I actually think that Paul Pierce may be somewhat underrated due to his team’s lack of success, but he’s one of the more versatile players in the league, who was always asked to do too much for the team. Go Celts and good luck Wolves.

Posted by: Ken on July 31st, 2007 at 6:03 pm

As a lifelong Celtics fan, I am extremely upset about this shortsighted deal. This and the Allen deal, along with last year’s Telfair trade, are the reasons I advocate Ainge’s immediate firing.

We possibly get to the finals for maybe one year maybe two in exchange for mortgaging our future. Great, thanks for the long-term vision Danny.

So much for being championship-minded.

Posted by: scott on August 1st, 2007 at 4:47 pm

[...] while not as ebullient as some, I am the most excited about the C’s for the first time since [...]

Posted by: turvey.com.au » South Australian Story + NRL R21 on August 2nd, 2007 at 5:52 am

Just wanted to compliment you on this article-excellent analysis. As a diehard C’s fan who spent most of the last two years trying to figure out how good these young guys were, I think the wildcard in this trade is Gerald Green. Big Al’s career will probably fall somewhere in the Zach Randolph-Elton Brand spectrum, while Gerald future is much more uncertain: could be out of league in couple years or become a prolific scorer with all of his physical gifts.

Posted by: Chris on August 2nd, 2007 at 7:46 pm

he is to little

Posted by: debarrious on April 29th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

it turns out your article was spot on!

Posted by: autoprt on June 19th, 2008 at 11:17 pm

How can u say that the celtics fans are proud and loyal? When just a year ago they where constantly booing their own “beloved” celtics. Proud and loyal fans are those like raider and packer fans who never boo their own team no matter how bad they are. Celtics fans got their championship but they should cherish it because they won’t see a repeat next year if the rockets have anything to do with it. The league was saved when yao got hurt. Rockets 09 champs

Posted by: agrocketfan on September 8th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

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