Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett went through the motions and said how excited they were to be there and all that good stuff, but neither sounded like he really meant it — especially Pierce. The lifelong (to this point) Celtic sounded dumbfounded that the trade was actually real. He sounded disappointed at times, speechless at others.
Even a “surprise” visit from owner Mikhail Prokhorov seemed forced and awkward. At least Celtics fans now know that Pierce will feel as weird playing in a Nets jersey as they’ll feel watching it.
12:26 p.m.: OK, Pierce sounded a bit unenthusiastic before. Now, he sounds flat-out shellshocked. He really didn’t believe it was real, that he was not a Boston Celtic, until just now.
“It hasn’t really sunk in,” Pierce said. “It’s started to sink in as we speak.”
The Nets apparently invited fans or team employees to applaud whenever any of the players says anything nice about the franchise. Their sense of tone is off, though. Pierce has made some very tepid comments about the organization, largely expressing disappointment that he is no longer in Boston, but when he concludes his remarks with, “I’m happy to be here,” they applaud like he has just lauded the organization.
12:23 p.m.: Garnett implies that there were a lot of factors in his decision to accept the trade, even though he has a no-trade clause. He considered “retirement, whether I wanted to play,” but coming over with Pierce and Terry was a major factor.
“Having JET and Paul with me was a big issue,” Garnett said. “I don’t know anybody who loves change, but sometimes change has to happen to get better.”
While expressing appreciation for what Williams and Johnson established in the organization last year, Garnett is making it clear he’ll influence the culture in Brooklyn — as if there was any doubt.
12:17 p.m.: Garnett loved Boston, but he seems much more excited about the near future in Brooklyn than Pierce does.
“‘Sup Brooklyn!” Garnett declared.
Still, Garnett also sounds slightly disappointed to be leaving the Celtics, after saying multiple times in the last six years that he “bleeds green.”
“It’s unfortunate we had to move from Boston,” Garnett said. “I think both sides were going in different directions. One of the major reasons I decided to come here was the bones of this. Deron [Williams], Joe [Johnson], this gives us our best option to win again, to win it all.”
If Garnett and Pierce can win it all again, they’ll surely believe this was worth it. If not, they don’t sound convinced it was worth leaving Boston just to contend.
12:14 p.m.: Maybe it’s just me, but Pierce doesn’t sound thrilled to be in Brooklyn. Mostly, he sounds resigned to the reality that the move was possible to remain on a relevant team.
“It’s tough when you come from a situation like me, being with an organization for 15 years and come to the Brooklyn Nets,” Pierce said. “When you come to an organization trying to win a championship, it adds a bit of excitement.”
But one sentence from Pierce will speak volumes to Celtics fans.
“Obviously, I would have loved to end my career in Boston,” he said.
12:10 p.m.: Billy King has put together a heck of a roster, and owner Mikhail Prokhorov has authorized some $84 million in luxury tax alone to make it happen. King emphasized the championship aspect of the deal in introducing the three former Celtics.
12:08 p.m.: The Nets began the news conference by introducing Garnett, Pierce and Terry — Kirilenko was unavailable to attend — and by thanking pretty much everybody in Brooklyn except the Nathan’s hot dog guy on Coney Island.
That’s a shame, because he probably deserves to most recognition of anybody involved.
12:02 p.m.: In case you missed the news a few days ago, Garnett will no longer be donning the No. 5 he made iconic in Boston. He won’t be going back to the No. 21 he wore in Minnesota, either.
Garnett will change his number with the Nets to No. 2, in honor of his friend Malik Sealy. Sealy, a fan favorite as a star at St. John’s, was Garnett’s teammate with the Timberwolves when he was killed in a car crash in 2000.
11:55 a.m. ET: Pretty soon, Celtics fans will see a sight never hoped they’d never see: Paul Pierce in a uniform that isn’t green.
Pierce will be introduced as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, along with Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko, in a news conference at noon at the Barclays Center. Jerseys have been available on the Nets’ website for some time, but sales should heat up once the stars hoist they jerseys, officially, for the first time.
Join us for updates during the news conference, which is scheduled to begin shortly.