The Boston Celtics had a disastrous 2006-07 season in which they finished with the NBA’s second-worst record and endured a franchise-worst 17-game skid.
There was a glimmer of hope, though, as the Celtics had the second-best chance to win the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery and select one of two potential franchise cornerstones in Texas Longhorns forward Kevin Durant and Ohio State center Greg Oden.
But the lottery was a disaster for the Celtics, as they slid to the No. 5 pick and seemed destined to continue rebuilding. It was a dark time for their lone superstar, Paul Pierce, who thought that the lottery bust might have resulted in the end of his career in Boston.
“That probably was the bottom of the barrel right there,” Pierce told former teammate Brian Scalabrine in a CSNNE interview that aired Monday. “I remember watching the draft (lottery), and when we didn’t get the No. 1 pick, I just knew I was getting traded. I was like, ‘well, you know, that’s my last time in Boston.’
“I was really gearing up for a trade … It was like, we could probably have a future if we get (Durant or Oden), maybe I’ll be around. That’s something positive. But when we didn’t get it, there was nobody I saw after the first two picks that could help this franchise right away. So, it was like they’re probably going to get another young player they can build around, keep the young talent that’s already there and trade me for some more young pieces. So, that was my whole thought right there when I saw the fifth pick and the ball didn’t bounce our way.”
Pierce identified one team that he would have been OK with going to if the Celtics did decide to trade him.
“When we didn’t get the first pick and I thought I would get traded, I told my agent I was trying to get to Dallas,” Pierce said. “I wanted to be in Dallas because I didn’t think the Celtics would want me anymore and they were going to rebuild. Dallas, I think, just lost in the (NBA Finals) to Miami a couple years before. They were like a perennial 50-game, 60-game contender. I just felt like I was that piece to help them get over the hump. … If you guys are going to trade me, Dallas would be a destination that hopefully, we can work something out. But Danny (Ainge) had full confidence in me. He wanted to build with me. I thank him for that.”
The Celtics traded the No. 5 pick in a package for Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen, and then they made a deal for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett. In a matter of weeks, the C’s had three future Hall of Fame players and a championship-caliber roster.
Boston’s new “Big 3” would go on to win the 2008 NBA Finals over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavericks, meanwhile, kept battling through playoff disappointment before winning the 2011 NBA Finals over the Miami Heat.
It ultimately worked out for both Boston and Dallas. But at the time, it was tough to see how the Celtics could turn their 2007 lottery misfortune into a positive.
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