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The Celtics-Nets Blockbuster: A Good Deal for Who?

The Celtics-Nets Blockbuster: A Good Deal for Who?

It’s now been over a month since the Boston-Brooklyn blockbuster that disrupted Draft Night and sent NBA fans and analysts alike into hysteria. Yet the deal remains probably the biggest news of the NBA summer. So, now that the dust has settled and pieces have stopped moving, how does the deal look for each side? Here’s a quick recap of the trade:

  • Brooklyn received: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry
  • Boston received: Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, 1st round picks in 2014, 2016, 2018.

So, was it a good deal?

Let’s look at it from the Brooklyn perspective first. Before the deal, the Nets were built to win now, if “built” means “hastily and carelessly constructed” and “win” means “remain relatively competitive.” For this reason, it wasn’t surprising that they reached for a couple of aging but effective stars like Pierce and Garnett to form a roster that can actually win now. Attention-seeking Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov vowed to bring championships to Brooklyn, and this deal backed up the seriousness of that vow in a major way. In fact, Prokhorov even drew a few George Steinbrenner comparisons following the deal – which was ridiculous, because Prokhorov has won zero championships and has fired Billy Martin 0 times. Ultimately, the deal made some sense for the Nets. They’re not favorites, but they’re in the conversation.

For Boston, it’s a bit more complicated. Danny Ainge probably held onto his core a bit too long, and may have cost Boston its shot at a quick reload. But now we’re here. The deal is done, and at a glance it looks like a harsh one for Boston. But all things considered, it might have been a decent play. Let’s take it step-by-step:

  • The players are useless. Nobody wants Gerald Wallace, the Celtics will likely let Humphries walk when his contract expires, and Brooks, Bogans and Joseph aren’t serious rebuilding components.
  • The financial situation is uncertain. We don’t know what Boston’s cap situation will look like moving forward. Even if they let Humphries go after a season, the team as currently constructed can’t afford much in the way of free agents. But draft picks, tradable assets, and the miniscule possibility of dealing Wallace may give them opportunities to shed financial obligations.
  • The draft picks are the value. This trade, coupled with the Clippers-Doc Rivers deal and the Celtics’ own picks, gave Boston 6 first round selections in the next 3 drafts alone. That’s a hell of a lot to work with to start a rebuilding process.
  • There’s always Rondo. Personally, I think the Celtics would be crazy to deal him, but if they want to go with a full rebuild, he could still bring in a pile of assets.

So, in summary: Brooklyn effectively positioned itself to compete for a high seed in the East. Sure they’re old, but they’re knowingly all-in on next season, and they might have enough talent to make that gamble pay off. Added Bonus for fans: we might get to see KG and Pierce get one last shot at the Heat. Who outside of Boston doesn’t want to see that series?

Boston, meanwhile, faces a long road ahead, but isn’t entirely unprepared for the journey. They’ll be awful next season, but they still have Rajon Rondo, they still have Jeff Green, and they still have Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger. And if Brooklyn can’t win a title in the next season or two, Boston’s enviable package of draft picks may start to look like the strongest component of this trade.