The Boston Celtics era of the “Big Three” is officially over. It was reported yesterday that the Celtics are trading their core veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries along with 3 future first round draft picks. Celtic guard Jason Terry is also part of the deal.
For a team in full rebuilding mode, trading their ageing stars was a huge first step to clear salary cap space. Garnett is owed $12 million for next season and the Nets guaranteed to keep his contract. Pierce, meanwhile, will be making $17 million. Pierce and Garnett join Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brooks Lopez to form a formidable, championship caliber unit. They will also play under their contemporary newly appointed Nets coach Jason Kidd.
With Boston’s trades, they suddenly have enough money and draft picks to accelerate the rebuilding process.
A few days before this mega deal, the Celtics also let go of longtime coach Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for a 1st round draft pick. Rivers said that he would rather coach a playoff-ready team than to stick around and start from scratch.
The signing of Rivers is seen as the first step to keep prized point guard Chris Paul in Los Angeles. Paul reportedly wanted the Clippers to hire Rivers or he would test the free agent waters. Rivers, one of the four active coaches with an NBA title, has announced that his first order of business to preach defense in his new team. Rivers is set to make $27 million over the next 3 years–the same amount on his remaining contract with the Celtics.
Boston is still looking for a replacement coach and is expected to sign a young and low-profile coach to cut on costs while they are rebuilding. They are looking at assistant coach Jay Larranaga to take over.
The end of this Celtics era is a blow to many fans that enjoyed the team-up of their beloved Big Three back in 2007. Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen transformed the Celtics from one of the worst teams in the league to a champion in just one season. Under the trio, the Celtics completed the largest single-season turnaround in NBA history. They posted a 66-16 record in their first year together (2007-2008), an unprecedented 42 game improvement.
The Celtics won their 17th championship that year over their historical rivals L.A. Lakers.
The team went back to the NBA Finals again in 2010 but failed to win the title.
It is also sad to see Paul Pierce leave since he has been synonymous to Celtics basketball over the last 15 years. Pierce was picked No. 10 in the 1998 draft and has been through many highs and lows in the organization.
Indeed, nothing lasts forever and it is about time that the Celtics let go of the past and start looking to the future. The first two years of this rebuilding process will definitely be painful but with the history and track record of this organization, the Celtics will be back on top in no time.