The biggest news in the NBA world Thursday was not connected to the Draft. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski dropped a bomb that afternoon — the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics were in serious talks regarding a trade that would send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets in exchange for three first-round draft picks and cap fillers.
As early as Thursday evening, Woj reported an agreement was reached in principle after Garnett agreed to waive his no-trade clause. The trade, Woj said, could not be finalized by the league office until July 10.
Per Woj, the Nets will receive Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry in exchange for first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 (and the right to swap in 2017), Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, Reggie Evans, and a signed-and-traded Keith Bogans. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported Saturday MarShon Brooks would be included in the deal, and not Evans and Joseph.
One of the most lopsided trades in recent NBA history.
That’s how I’d describe this trade two days after the fact, should it be league-approved. Boston loses a 15-time All Star in Garnett, 37, and a 10-time All Star in Pierce, 35; both of whom are closer to retirement than their primes, sure, but I’d insist both are still top 25 talents in this league, without debate.
Boston gets 3 good things in this deal: a) Brooks, 24, who averaged 12.6 points per game in less than 30 minutes in his rookie season, before seeing his PT more than halved this year; b) 3 (likely very late) first-round draft picks, including one next year, which is already considered to likely be one of the elite classes in NBA history; and c) the good fortune to wave goodbye to Terry’s contract, which pays him close to $11 million over the next 2 seasons.
But Boston also gets cast-offs in Humphries, Bogans and Wallace, all unlikely to make a major difference on a likely non-playoff team. Oh, and the right to pay Gerald Wallace $10.1 million per over the next 3 seasons. Wallace’s scoring has dropped every season since 2009-10, and he averaged only 7.7 points on sub-40% shooting last year, his lowest totals since 2003-04 in Sacramento.
To Boston’s benefit, Humphries is a $12 million expiring and Brooks is still earning a rookie wage. But Pierce was, assuming GM Danny Ainge picked up his option, a $15.3 million expiring this year, and Garnett, considering his value, is owed a very reasonable $11.5 and $12 million over the next 2 seasons, before his deal expires.
It’s clear the Celtics are blowing the whole thing up. Rumors circulated Saturday of a potential Celtics-Mavericks Rajon Rondo deal. If he’s not dealt this summer, I’d expect Rondo on the block by February’s trade deadline, pending a healthy return from a torn ACL suffered in January.
Can the Nets compete in the East?
Assume this trade goes through and head coach Jason Kidd boasts an opening day starting lineup of Pierce, Garnett, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. That’s 35 All Star appearances among 5 guys. If Brooklyn can round out their bench with quality ring-chasing veterans to surround Terry, you have to think they’re right there with Chicago, Indiana and New York, behind Miami.
But lots of questions remain. Can Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony both stay healthy … and co-exist? How does Derrick Rose return after missing an entire season due to ACL surgery? Are Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer still Bulls, and who does GM Gar Forman find to replace likely free agent departures Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Richard Hamilton? Does Danny Granger return healthy as instant offense off Frank Vogel’s bench, or does Indiana ship him elsewhere for assets? Can Indiana re-sign David West?
Oh, and how does a starting lineup of 5 former All Stars — all of whom, minus Lopez, have previously been the star of a playoff team — co-exist?
Only time will tell.
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