How 2013 Celtics-Nets Blockbuster Might Impact 2018 NBA Trade Deadline

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Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett

Photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s been four and a half years since the Nets and Celtics completed a blockbuster trade in which Brooklyn acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce while Boston received a treasure trove of draft picks.

The deal still serves as a cautionary tale with the NBA trade deadline a month away.

Garnett and Pierce, of course, made a minimal impact in Brooklyn, with KG spending a season and a half with his new team before being traded to Minnesota for a second stint with the Timberwolves and The Truth lasting only one campaign with the Nets before leaving in free agency.

The Celtics, meanwhile, have continued to reap the benefits, drafting Jaylen Brown in 2016 and Jayson Tatum in 2017 and using the 2018 first-round pick they received from the Nets as the centerpiece of a trade for Kyrie Irving. Boston even could wind up with a top-five draft pick in 2018 by virtue of flipping the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 (received from Brooklyn) to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick (used to select Tatum) and a conditional first-rounder.

Basically, Danny Ainge committed highway robbery by acquiring four first-round draft picks in exchange for a package centered around two aging veterans (Garnett was 37; Pierce was entering his age-36 season). And NBA front offices have taken notice, which might even impact this year’s trade deadline.

Consider this nugget from a piece by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski published Monday:

Fewer picks are available in deals that don’t include frontline starters, and several NBA executives believe the fallout from the 2013 Boston-Brooklyn trade has played a part in fostering that reluctance.

“No one wants to end up embarrassed like the Nets were,” one Eastern Conference GM said.

Brooklyn’s July 2013 mishap shouldn’t — and probably won’t — be an overriding factor leading up to the Feb. 8 deadline. That trade was questionable at the time given where Garnett and Pierce were in their respective careers, and one team’s incompetence shouldn’t weigh too heavily in the minds of general managers looking to contend for an NBA title in 2018.

But, as Wojnarowski notes, the dynamics of trading picks for players has changed in recent years. And the Celtics fleecing the Nets almost certainly played a large role in the widespread philosophical shift.

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