Various sources are reporting that the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to a deal to send forward Kevin Garnett to Boston in exchange for a package of players and draft picks including forward Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, and depending on which report you read, possibly Ryan Gomes. Additionally, the T-Wolves get the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2008, as well as another 2008 first-rounder that was originally theirs but was traded to Boston in the Ricky Davis deal (got it?).
My, how things have changed since the Draft Lottery. Remember that day, and the footage of Celtics fans who looked like someone had just run over their puppy? It was footage of a fanbase whose main debate was not how many games they’d win this season, but whether it’d be easier to jump off the Prudential building or simply hurl themselves onto the Mass Pike.
Then there was the draft, when Danny Ainge swung a deal for Ray Allen by sending Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, and the draft rights to the fifth overall pick, Jeff Green to Seattle. The move reeked of desperation at the time; it seemed like Ainge, after not getting the top-2 pick he hoped for and failing to land KG because he didn’t want to play in Boston, had simply thrown up his hands and said “Well, screw it. We’ve got to do something.” A lot of people, myself included, questioned the move because it seemed like exactly the kind of half-measure that teams seem so happy to make. He wasn’t selling off their young players to bring in a core of veterans who could contend immediately, but he wasn’t quite blowing it up and moving veterans for draft picks and young guys who would develop as part of a rebuilding project. It looked for all intents and purposes like the Celtics’ front office had built an extremely mediocre team that might back into the playoffs for a few years, and by the time their young guys had peaked, Allen and Pierce would be on the downside of their careers.
Just take a second to think about what this Celtics team will field: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. In the Eastern Conference. I could be the sixth man and this team would still get to the conference finals.
Kevin Garnett has never played with anyone as good as either Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. Ponder that one for a minute; he is now placed in a situation where he is playing with not one, but two guys who are both better than anyone he has ever had around him. Of course, there are other considerations, like the fact that one of the best passing big men the game has ever seen will now be on the court with two prime-time perimeter players. Hell, KG might average 30/12/10 this year. Wouldn’t surprise me.
That’s the other thing, though. Nothing he can do on the court would surprise me, because Kevin Garnett is an absolute warrior. He goes all out, all the time, every game. Anyone who has ever seen a Wolves highlight has seen The Look, the one KG gets when he yanks an offensive rebound away from 3 defenders and puts it back with a dunk and a foul, or when he comes over to help on defense and sends a jumper into the club level. The Look where he tightens the muscles in his jaw and simply stares through some unfortunate guy on the other team, like he’s trying to set him on fire with pure mental intensity. Something tells me that will play well in a town like Boston.
Personally, I’m looking forward to this season. I’m sort of an adopted Celtics fan, in the sense that I didn’t really watch the NBA growing up because of the lack of a local team, and the fact that I spent all winter every year watching college ball. My dad never really talks about his sports preferences outside of the Bills and Sabres, (which is why I never found out he was a Mets fan until I was 17, but that’s an entirely different story) but once in a while he’d mention the great Celts/Lakers throwdowns of the 80s. And Bird. I won’t go into the full details of just how much status the man from French Lick holds in my parents’ home, but suffice it to say that my mom makes certain she puts the Larry Bird ornament on the Christmas tree every year. So gradually, as I got older and started watching the NBA, I drifted towards the Celtics. And right now? It’s looking like a fun season.
The bottom line: Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. But Kevin McHale might be, ’cause he’s dropping off KG to go play with The Truth and Jesus Shuttlesworth.