Consider it a sign of the season.
With the 2012-13 season in the books, all 30 NBA teams are looking ahead to the summer and making plans to retool, rebuild and repair. In the case of the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, there’s a little bit of everything involved.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Eastern Conference foes are in talks to complete a blockbuster deal that would send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets in exchange for a hefty rebuilding package:
With Kevin Garnett having not been a part of Doc Rivers’ exodus to the Los Angeles Clippers, it would make sense for Boston to explore other options. After all, the 37-year-old isn’t exactly a building block for what the Celtics hope to do going forward.
Likewise, Paul Pierce is entering the twilight of his career, and, at 35, his salary isn’t worth keeping on the books if Boston hopes to retool for the future. Both players represent an opportunity to get younger, cheaper and more financially flexible.
Adding three first-round draft picks certainly wouldn’t hurt, either.
Boston’s title ship sailed early last season, with the season-ending injury to point guard Rajon Rondo, and with the Celtics both banged up and worn out, a championship run just wasn’t in the cards. Since that time, general manager Danny Ainge has been exploring options for rebuilding from the ground up, starting with his future Hall of Famers.
That’s the beauty of the NBA. One team’s trash is another team’s treasure.
That’s not to say Pierce and Garnett aren’t worth anything—the pair combined for 33.4 points, 14.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game last season—but in terms of long-term value, Pierce and Garnett are better off elsewhere.
The Nets just couldn’t manage to get over the hump last season, notching the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs before bowing out to the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Despite a 49-33 regular-season mark, they couldn't compete with the elite teams in the NBA.
For Brooklyn to break through that barrier next season, it needs to infuse additional talent. Considering the Nets’ salary cap situation, free agency isn’t going to be the answer.
Brooklyn has more than $86 million committed to its roster in 2013-14, including $12 million due to Kris Humphries in the final year of his contract, and $10.1 million due to Gerald Wallace each of the next three seasons. The Nets don’t have the cap space to bring in a player like Dwight Howard or Chris Paul barring of a massive sign-and-trade, and they don’t exactly have the short-term assets (like expiring contracts) to make such a deal worth the risk for other teams.
As such, bringing in two proven stars like Pierce and Garnett will circumvent that issue and allow Brooklyn to compete for a title next season without making a big splash on the free agent market. Consider it a win-win for both franchises.
No one wants to see Pierce retire in another jersey, but the future of the franchise has to come first. Neither he nor Garnett is likely to have much value next offseason, and for Boston to gain both financial flexibility and assets with which to rebuild, the pair has to go.
Adding the future Hall of Famers won’t necessarily make Brooklyn a surefire championship contender, but the Nets don’t have much wiggle room in their current state. Without making a deal like this, they would likely enter the 2013-14 season with a similar roster and tempered expectations.
Nothing is official, but there are plenty of reasons this deal could go through. If it does, expect both teams to be happy with the result.
*Salary information via ShamSports.com.