Paul Pierce may have looked low-spirited during his introductory news conference Thursday in Brooklyn, but believe it or not, the former Celtics captain had to do some work to woo one of his Boston teammates and ultimately complete the trade that sent him to the Nets.
Once Pierce realized that a deal was in the works to send him to Brooklyn and give him one last chance at a championship, he started warming up to the idea of the trade. However, Kevin Garnett wasn’t quite as convinced, and it took some persistence from Pierce to get him there.
“It was a situation where [the Celtics] were going to make a move, and once the deal with the Clippers didn’t go through for [Garnett], it was like, the Celtics were trading me, Doc [Rivers] was leaving, so what was left for Kevin?” Pierce explained to reporters Thursday. “I talked to [new Nets coach] Jason Kidd, and he was warming me to the fact of coming to Brooklyn. Then he started warming me to the fact that they were trying to get Kevin, too.
“That’s when I called Kevin and asked him what he thought about coming to Brooklyn. He immediately said, ‘Well, what pieces are they going to give up? Who is going to be left? Is it going to be possible for us to win a championship?’ He was excited when I talked to him after warming him up, just to have the opportunity to come and win a championship and be alongside a young prospect like Brook Lopez, who he can try to take to the next level. And once I warmed him up to that, he was all in for it.”
Thanks to Pierce, it was settled. Garnett ultimately waived his no-trade clause and agreed to the deal that sent himself, Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White to the Nets in exchange for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and future draft picks. As Pierce explained, it took a long phone call to sell Garnett and make it happen.
“It was one long, long phone call,” Pierce said. “Probably like an hour-and-a-half, two hours. I just remember I was standing outside and it was 100 degrees, and I just remember after the phone call I was dripping sweat.
“I was like, ‘Do you understand what’s going on in Boston? [A potential trade to the] Clippers thing appears to be dead. So what do you think, big fella? I know you don’t want to retire. I know you don’t want to retire. You have too much in the tank, you love the game too much. Sometimes you just have to tell Kevin to sit back and think about it. He reacts to everything. Like his initial reaction to everything is, ‘No.’ [You say,] ‘Kevin I got a $100 million,’ [And he replies,] ‘No.’ Then he has to sit back and think about it and then once he warms up to it, he makes his decision, and that’s about anything.”
In this situation, there was no exception.
“I don’t like change much. When I commit to something, I like to go all-out,” Garnett said. “It’s unfortunate. Obviously, when I saw the Doc Rivers situation, I knew that the writing was on the wall even before then. It was tough leaving [Rajon] Rondo and other things, but this is a new chapter with new things to embrace, and that’s what I’m doing.”