History won’t forget the time the Boston Celtics shook up the NBA six-plus years ago.
NBA.com’s Sekou Smith on Friday included the 2013 mega-trade between the Celtics and Brooklyn Nets among the top 10 NBA trades of the 2010s decade. After exiting the playoffs in the first round for first time in six years, Boston dramatically announced its rebuild by trading Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and D.J. White to Brooklyn in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, three first-round NBA Draft picks and one first-round pick swap. The NBA community concluded the Nets were to pursue a championship immediately and at all costs, while the Celtics were loading up on assets for the coming years.
Here’s Smith’s assessment of the Celtics-Nets trade:
This looks even worse in retrospect, with the Nets gambling away their immediate future Draft capital on aging champions Garnett, Pierce and Terry as the mayor components of a quick-fix title kit. Even with Joe Johnson and Deron Williams already in the fold, the Nets couldn’t find the magic needed to be a true contender in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, (Celtics president of basketball operations) Danny Ainge and his crew pulled of the heist for assets that would turn out to include Jaylen Brown (2016), Jayson Tatum (2017) and other youngsters who have allowed Ainge and the Celtics to not only become an Eastern Conference power, but also power broker in every Draft and trade season since the original deal was done. Ainge had the courage and the mastery of the craft to pull the trigger on a deal that changed the future of the franchise for the better.”
Conventional wisdom sides with Smith in claiming Boston won this trade. The Nets reached the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2014, lost in the first round of the next season’s NBA playoffs, then failed to reach the playoffs the next three seasons. They lost in the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs before landing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in a presumed free-agency bonanza.
Meanwhile, the Celtics missed the playoffs in 2014, exited in the first round in the next two seasons, reached the Eastern Conference Final in 2017 and 2018 and were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. Their young, hungry 2019-20 team is surpassing expectations and appears better poised than the Nets to make a deep run in the playoffs this campaign.
Trades don’t always represent turning points in one or both organizations involved. However, the Celtics-Nets trade in 2013 still reverberates around Boston, Brooklyn and the association for good reason.
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