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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The KG Veteran    

The AP is reporting the deal for Kevin Garnett as being done, though not official.  The deal is apparently KG for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, possibly Ryan Gomes (though only if you ask Bulpett), and two first-rounders (one is lottery-protected).  It could be less, once announced, but let's assume the biggest bounty is what's actually headed out of town.


After taking the time to wrap my head around it, this is an absolute no-brainer trade.  A masterstroke.  It's not like the C's traded for a stiff like Chris Webber, or even a question mark like Allen Iverson.  It's Kevin Garnett.  How does anybody not make this trade?

I hate to see Jefferson, Gomes and Green leave town.  And you hate to see the C's toss in two picks.  But nobody on the outbound side of the deal will ever be Kevin Garnett.  Jefferson's awesome, a sure-fire 20 + 10 guy going forward, but he's not in the same class.  Gomes is headed to free agency after this season anyway.  Green is more likely to be the next Ricky Davis than the next Rip Hamilton.  One of the first-rounders is lottery-protected.  It's a ton of talent, but it's spread out.

So while the Timberwolves are receiving an Instant Roster pill (just add Gatorade), the Celtics had a chance to add a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  This isn't the NFL, where the equivalent package would have crippled the team receiving KG.  It's the NBA.  You NEED that one guy, or you're nothing.  The Celtics are no longer nothing.  That's the bottom line.

Other assorted thoughts:

The cupboard is bare.  Assuming that Gomes is indeed gone, Kendrick Perkins would be the only legit big other than KG, and even that pushes the definition of "legit" to its boundaries.  Glen "Fat Baby" Davis becomes #2 on the depth chart at both the 4 and the 5... unless he falters, giving way to Leon Powe and... wait for it... Veal Scalabrine.  Good lord.  They need someone besides KG to rebound the ball.

Then there's the backcourt, featuring the brilliant but undercooked Rajon Rondo and second-round project Gabe Pruitt.  In a word, ugh.  The PG position becomes that much easier with Allen and KG around, but that's still a mess that could hold the team back.  Is Rondo truly ready for not just starting duties but starting playoff duties?  Really?!?  With no options remaining in free agency (Derek Fisher would have been perfect) they need to do something to land a competent backup PG as insurance against Rondo.

But despite those glaring holes, the continued employment of Donyell Marshall, Drew Gooden and Eric Snow in Cleveland proves that finding a workable supporting cast is the easy part.  The C's just did the hard part.

As was discussed at the Fanhouse, this is the ONLY thing that could have distracted us from the Tim Donaghy situation.  Mission accomplished!  I wouldn't put it past David Stern to approach both Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale, significant offer of some kind in hand, and ask that they sit down and make a fair deal happen.

It could be coincidence that this trade happened in the wake of the ref scandal.  But is a coincidence really that likely?  The most image-conscious (and most effective) commissioner in sports was watching a PR apocalypse unfold.  You can say he wasn't behind this all you want, but I'm not hearing it.

The talk of the future being mortgaged in exchange for a brief window of opportunity has been exaggerated so greatly that I'm embarrassed for the people who keep bringing it up.

My reaction, in two words: COME ON!

It's just a knee-jerk reaction to an imperfect scenario.  Garnett is 31.  Ray Allen is 32.  They're nowhere near washed-up, and won't be for another few years.  Ankle surgery?  OMG NOBODY RECOVERS FROM ANKLE SURGERY.  (Note how the injury-recovery addicts don't cite Jefferson's inability to stay healthy.)  Aging superstar?  OMG NO SUPERSTAR HAS VALUE AFTER AGE 31.

Ask Shaq about life after 31.  Or do you believe his role in the 2006 championship, at age 34, was due to his freakish adherence to a healthy diet and physical conditioning?

What about Duncan?  He's 31 now.  Did he not just win another championship?  Anyone think he's cooked?  Didn't think so.  Again, if the Celtics had traded for him instead of KG, would ANY of these stories be flying around?  Of course not.

Disaster is not the likeliest scenario... it's just more likely than it would be otherwise.  It affects the odds of success, but it doesn't make the negative side any more real.  The smart money is still on the Celtics contending in the East.  The old-age/washed-up angle makes for an engaging storyline, but it's not based in reality on any level.

It's my belief that the anti-trade crowd thinks the trade is stupid because they think Ainge is stupid.  In other words, if a more trusted GM had made the same move (say, Jerry West) then these folks wouldn't have the same reaction.  If the enormous bounty of outbound players and picks is questionable, the fact that it was Ainge's idea means it's gotta be dumb, right?

I would point out that Ainge has landed KG for less than the pre-draft offer.  In fact, Ainge's refusal to send the #5 to Minnesota is what led to both Allen and KG arriving.  Otherwise, it would have been one or the other, which would not have worked out quite so well.  He held out and got a better deal.  That's not stupid.

I've had my ups and downs with Ainge, but he has played this offseason beautifully.  He's given away a lot, but that was always the plan.  It was time to make the move.  And it's one hell of a move.

Everyone who laughed at the Allen trade?  Get ready to eat a big bag of mesquite BBQ dicks, bitches.  Abbondanza!  Still laughing?  By all means, continue.  Laugh it up.  You'll have plenty of chances to guffaw and chortle when you see them a dozen times on national fucking television this season.


  • I'm more nervous about Ray's future than you are, but I basically agree. The Celtics traded a future of guaranteed mediocrity, with an upside of slightly-better-than-mediocre, for a slightly riskier future that has an NBA championship as its upside. Tough choice.

    The mortgaging the future argument seems particularly foolish to me, because Ray, KG, and Pierce should be good enough for long enough (if not necessarily championship-caliber for more than a couple more years) that it's a whole different future you're talking about. None of these guys are rent-a-players. It's not even as bad a mortgaging-the-future-for-the-present situation as the Shaq trade was, and I don't think Miami is too upset about how that went. You may be facing a 2007 Miami moment eventually, but not as quickly as Miami did.

    The only thing that scares me is how bad that team could be with just a couple of injuries. But you gotta roll the dice, and none of those guys has really been that injury prone. The big loser of this trade? Zach Randolph. Any edge he might have brought with him has now been effectively canceled. Oops.

    What next? Do you play Garnett at the 4 or 5? Who else do you add? I think just picking up a defensive specialist or two and an ok bench scorer completes this package pretty nicely. How is Rondo's defense?

    By Blogger Jesse, at 2:59 PM  

  • Garnett at the 4. They want Kendrick Perkins to continue his development as a defensive center. But that all depends on Perk.

    Rondo is considered a superb defender. He is supremely inconsistent, and he can't shoot, but he shows flashes of highlight reel point-guardity. (Tony Allen's defense is also thought to be pretty excellent.)

    As for who to add, I want a rebounder. If Fat Baby pans out, and if Gomes ends up staying, which is possible, then this is less urgent. But I worry about the 4/5 spots most of all, because I have more faith in Rondo than Perk. Hence a legit 4/5 who does nothing but rebound.

    And who's left out there to add? I looked at the crop and it looks pretty grim, unless they hand an offer sheet to Varejao, which I'd just assume they not do.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3:14 PM  

  • I was just thinking that KG at the 5 might make sense because it seems like there's always a 4-guy out there who only rebounds and plays physical defense who can be had for cheap (Reggie Evans, Kelvin Cato from a few years ago, though I don't really know how those guys have been lately). But I'm not surprised that it's not going to happen, because if it made sense, Minnesota probably would have done it years ago. Of course, it is Minnesota we're talking about...

    What do you think the baseball equivalent of this trade would be?

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:20 PM  

  • Here are my random, unstructured thoughts on this issue:

    1. So how much $$$ do the celtics have to spend? They should attempt to pry Juan Carlos Navarro from the Wiz. He is a good international point who has played for years.

    2. I think the Celtics have a real issue here in that their point situation is horrendous. Rondo is a tremendous defender, but on offense, he is sub-par at best. I'm not even talking about shooting, I'm talking about getting people in the right places.

    3. I agree with Jesse that 1 horrible injury could be crippling for the season.

    4. The Nets made the 2nd round of the playoffs last year with aging superstars and nobody else. The East is terrible.

    5. I view the ceiling for this team to be losing in the NBA finals. I just don't see them beating a good Western team with 7- 8 good players in a 7 game series. But I do see them mopping up the east.

    6. This isn't all about building a contender, I guarantee $$$ factored in. The Celtics will make so much money off of Garnett it will more than make up for any sucky stage that may happen after their 3 stars are gone. I'm even considering a 10-game package to the C's just to watch Garnett play. Before this deal, I couldn't bring myself to even attend a single game a year in the $10 seats. Ticket sales will go apeshit.

    By Blogger K1, at 3:53 PM  

  • A-Rod to the Royals for Butler, Hochevar, DeJesus, Emil Brown, Mike Sweeney's expiring contract, and two A-ball pitching prospects.

    But even then, A-Rod is too high-profile. Nobody in KG's situation exists in baseball. They've already switched teams, and they're never nearly as alone as KG has been. Before he left for Anaheim you could have said Vlad Guerrero. He was truly the only thing happening in Montreal.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 3:54 PM  

  • How about the Griffey deal back in the day? That's not a bad KG comparison at least, and in that scenario Cameron might actually be an ok comp for Jefferson.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:57 PM  

  • Kelvin, to be clear, when I said NBA championship upside, I was thinking 2008-2009, assuming they can improve the current roster somewhat. We'll see though.

    By Blogger Jesse, at 3:58 PM  

  • I agree with just about everything Kelvin said, especially Navarro... except I do think they could beat the right team in the Finals (coughDALLAScough) if they address their point/rebounding/bench situations. We're talking about a mathematical probability, not a likelihood, but I'm not going to say they can't win it all with these three guys. (Amazing.)

    What I really love about this, apart from having to legitimately ask whether or not they can win the championship for the first time in decades, is that the nation will be reintroduced to Paul Pierce. It saddens me that he's never been recognized as the talent he is; now he gets to stick it back in the entire league's face. He is going to have a MONSTER season. If he drops fewer than 26 per game, even while sharing touches with Allen and Garnett, I'll be floored.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 4:13 PM  

  • I agree on Griffey, but not Cameron. That's selling Jefferson WAY short. Jefferson is more like an Adam Dunn at this point.

    Also, the trade's official. Gomes is gone.

    Is Brevin Knight available? I didn't see him on the FA list but I've seen two different boards discuss him as an option.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 4:19 PM  

  • I think Cameron turned out to be better than Griffey all by himself, though that was largely injury related. Anyway, I wondered about that, but I'd take Cameron 2000-2003 over Dunn now-whenever, so I'd say this is probably a case of me overvaluing Cameron (in your opinion) than undervaluing Jefferson. Add to that that the Mariners never should have let Cameron go to begin with, and how depressed his numbers have been by Safeco and Petco...

    But there were certainly more players better than Cameron than there are players better than Jefferson. This is of course pointless of course, because it mostly reveals how different MLB and the NBA are. Anyway, in principle, I think it holds up pretty well because it turned out to be a great trade for the Mariners, and would have been a good trade for the Reds as well if Griffey had stayed healthy (which we hope KG will).

    By Blogger Jesse, at 4:38 PM  

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