If the Boston Celtics' rebuilding plan eventually works out for the best, fans of the team will have Paul Pierce to thank. After all, it was Pierce who convinced Kevin Garnett to waive his no-trade clause and join him in the megadeal that sent both of them to the Brooklyn Nets.
According to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, Pierce said it wasn't easy:
Kevin was like, 'Well, I don’t know.' I was like, ‘You know what’s going on in Boston, the Clippers situation seems to be dead. So, what do you think big fella? I know you don’t want to retire. You have too much in the tank and you love the game too much.’
Sometimes you just have to tell Kevin to think about it. He reacts to everything. His initial reaction to everything is, ‘No.’ Kevin, I have $100 million . . . ‘No.’ Then, he has to sit back and think about it, and once he warms up to it, then he makes his decision. I knew his initial reaction was going to be against it, but I knew this was going to be a long conversation, too.
So, why should Celtics fans be glad Pierce talked KG into waiving his no-trade clause?
Well, mostly because it helped consolidate the pain of watching a team being torn apart. Had Pierce made the move to Brooklyn alone, Garnett would have either retired or had to suffer through an interminable waiting game until the Celtics found a taker for him.
If KG had remained with the Celtics, fans would have had to watch their beloved, aging warrior struggle on a go-nowhere team.
By recruiting Garnett and selling him on the possibilities of a championship chase with the Nets, Pierce saved Celtics fans the discomfort of two era-ending exits. He ripped off the Band-Aid quickly, leaving the Boston faithful stinging, but ultimately limiting the duration of their misery.
There was no way that both Garnett and Pierce would have remained in Boston after Doc Rivers' exodus to the Los Angeles Clippers. The second Rivers left, it was obvious that the Celtics' vets were on borrowed time.
President Danny Ainge had been itching to start fresh for a while. It seemed that each of the past few summers were marked by talk of whether or not this would be the year the Celtics hit the detonator on the core that won the 2008 title.
With Rajon Rondo likely to be slowed by last season's torn ACL and the team's veterans showing real signs of decline, Ainge must have known that the moment to act was upon him. It was time for Pierce and Garnett to go.
And really, no rational Celtics fan should have wanted Garnett to stay.
Boston is stripping down in an effort to bottom out as quickly as possible. At this stage of his career, Garnett wouldn't have been good enough to lead the Celtics deep into the playoffs—especially without Pierce around.
He would have been miserable on a lottery team.
Rebuilding efforts conducted in fits and starts don't work. Half-measures tend to leave teams mired somewhere in the middle of the pack, which is where it's much harder to secure the high-picks necessary to start the climb back to the top.
The Celtics had to blow things up eventually, and Pierce's sales pitch helped put the team in a better position. After all, who knows whether the Nets would have been willing to part with so many valuable draft picks if Garnett hadn't been part of the exchange?
When Garnett and Pierce retire as Celtics—and rest assured, they absolutely will—fans should line up to thank them for the championship they won and the rebuilding process they agreed to help start.