Celtics Co-Owner Wyc Grousbeck Details How 2013 Trade With Nets Materialized

Jayson Tatum has had an incredible postseason run for the shorthanded Boston Celtics thus far, but the rookie forward wouldn’t be lighting up opponents on the parquet floor if it wasn’t for … the trade.

Everyone knows about the Celtics complete 2013 fleecing of the Brooklyn Nets when Boston dealt Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White to the Nets for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, the Nets’ unprotected first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, as well as the right to swap first-round picks with Brooklyn in 2017.

That 2017 first-round pick eventually turned into Jayson Tatum, along with another first-round draft pick thanks to a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.

It has gone down as one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, and Boston only got the haul it did because of co-owner Wyc Grousbeck.

The C’s co-owner went on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” and discussed how the deal materialized with CEO of The Ringer and host Bill Simmons.

“As I recall — and Danny (Ainge) may remember slightly differently — but as I recall, he came to me with that deal on draft day (in 2013) and said, ‘We’re going to get two first-round picks from Brooklyn for (Garnett, Pierce, Terry, and White), and take on some contracts,'” Grousbeck recalled. “And I said, ‘OK, are (the picks) unprotected?’ And he said, ‘Yes, in fact, they are.’ I said, ‘Great. Let’s go get a third pick.'”

“And he goes, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa,’ but, ‘All right, I’ll ask.’ And he’s not afraid to ask, he wasn’t pushing back. But he went and asked, and he said, ‘Unbelievable. We got a third pick. This is great.’ And I said, ‘Great. Go get a fourth pick. I think these guys have deal fever — we’re going to keep going until they say no. I think they’ve been told by ownership to get the deal done, so let’s go back.’ And Danny sort of gave me a look, like I don’t want to lose the deal by pushing too hard. Normally we try to play down the middle of the road with people, but I said, ‘Go push aggressively for a fourth pick.’

“And so he went back, he came back to me and he said, ‘OK, you’ve got your wish. They’ve said no now … they’re not going to give us a fourth pick.’ I said fine, make that fourth pick into a swap. Because swapping a pick doesn’t feel like you’re losing a pick. You still have a pick, and it’s pretty unlikely that we would be able to swap — that would mean we were better than they are. And we think they’re going to be pretty good with this trade. So just get the swap and call it a day. So we got that swap, and that swap turned into Jayson Tatum and another first-round pick — it turned into the number-one pick in (last) year’s draft. That’s how the Brooklyn trade evolved as I recall it, which was working together with Danny to get the best possible deal out of Brooklyn.”

The Celtics couldn’t have asked for a better outcome from the trade, as the number of assets they accrued from Brooklyn helped them rebuild on the fly and become an Eastern Conference power that now is three games away from the NBA Finals.

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