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Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett Speak on Their Departure From Boston, Move to Brooklyn

It was a day of new beginnings in Brooklyn, as the Nets officially introduced Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the media and a lucky batch of season ticket holders at the Barclays Center. It was the first time Garnett and Pierce had spoke on the record about their departures from Boston. Our friend Chris Forsberg from ESPNBoston.com was on the scene and had a number of candid comments from the former Celtics.

On KG considering retirement this offseason: “Absolutely,” Garnett responded when asked about considering hanging up his high-tops. “Because of Paul’s situation with the Celtics, and Paul is a huge part of playing together and accomplishing things, which makes this whole thing kind of bittersweet. I’m leaving one chapter and opening another, and I’m able to do it with guys that I’ve known for a long time.”

On Pierce returning for a game in Boston: “I know it’s going to be really emotional,” said Pierce, his face unable to hide his feelings. “I have already pictured it in my head probably about 100,000 times. And every time I picture it, I shed tears. So I’m trying to… ”

His voice trailed and he collected himself a bit.

“It’s going to be difficult, man. I don’t know. It’s going to be difficult,” added Pierce.

Pierce on leaving Boston: “I thought the writing was on the wall,” said Pierce. “You saw Doc was leaving, [Rajon] Rondo was hurt, probably not going to be back until probably December, January, who knows? … If I was a GM and I looked at the situation, and one day I probably plan on being a GM if that’s possible, I probably would have made the same decision. There’s some sentimental things that go along with me and Danny being together for so long, [but] at the end of the day, he works for the Boston Celtics; he doesn’t work for Paul Pierce. He works for a franchise that’s going to be around a lot longer than me, and he has to make the best decisions that he can for that franchise. And, if I was in his position, I think moving forward, I would have done the same thing.”

Forsberg has much more from both players over at ESPNBoston.com, so be sure to hop over there for even more coverage.

  • check12check

    over on espn, I just saw some pictures of KG and Pierce wearing nets jerseys. it just did not look right to me. it's kind of hard to handle that this really happened

  • james patrick

    This made me very sad. All the points Paul made about other teams. Dirk/Dallas Duncan/Spurs, Kobe/Lakers….. Paul deserved more input after what he did for the city. I still hope he can return his last year just to retire a celtic, KG too.

  • -JP

    I am hoping that, when the time comes, they at least kick the tires on Paul Pierce as a GM. That would be great to see him with the organization again. Who knows how good he would be at the job, but it really could go either way. Pierce and Garnett are champions in my book, and I hope the best for them in Brooklyn.

  • Mark

    I have no doubt this will be a one season journey for these two. I really see KG retiring and Paul coming back to the C’s in a mentor role or retiring as well. I wish them luck but not too much as the worse the Nets are the better draft pick the C’s get.

  • roadsidenotes

    If we're talking storybook stuff, the Nets win a title, Garnett walks off into the sunset, and Pierce comes back for one final year with the Celtics, and then joins the front office. I think he's got the disposition to succeed in management.

    You get the sense that he understands and buys into the reality that you have to balance loyalty to players and the franchise.

  • skeeds

    I finally pinpointed the one thing that makes me sick about this move. Sure it's sad, but something doesn't sit right. It's what PP mentioned about him never being seen in the same light as Dirk, Timmy, Kobe. He never got that, not even as the years passed and he became an all time great.
    When Dirk's contract was expiring and everyone wondered what Cuban would do, he said "I'm gonna get on one knee and hope he says I do". Same with Timmy and the Spurs. Same with Kobe. Never a doubt. Wouldn't it be an option for the Mavs to unload Dirk, injured and in his twilight, to "rebuild". Sure, but they'd NEVER do that.
    Yes, lifelong franchise players might be a thing of the past, but these guys are the last of a dying breed. The captain's legacy in green was too big for Ainge to even consider trading him. Which he had been for years. I was always frustrated with how Ainge constantly tried to trade Ray. I thought it was disrespectful. Now, with Pierce, it's simply hideous. I wonder when the last time was that a guy was traded after 15 seasons…

    For what it's worth, I hope he does win a championship. If things click in Brooklyn, I hope he resigns and wins some more. He deserves it. At least for this season, I'm gonna root for the Nets, more than I do for Boston.

    • Phil

      People don't look at Jordan as less of a Bull because of his stint with the Wizards, just like people won't look at Pierce any differently because of playing for the Nets. Ironically, winning a championship there is about the only way to take away from his Boston legacy (though I would still root for Pierce, it would boost his personal legacy a ton.) Still, true franchise players are a rarity. There's Pierce, Duncan, Kobe and Dirk from the last generation (and Pierce is still there,) and it looks like they'll be even rarer during this one. Durant could play 15 years for OKC… who else? All of the other best players have already switched teams at least once. When you can name the people in a group on one hand, they don't get forgotten easily.

      If Ainge wanted to ride out the remainder of Pierce's career with a mediocre team fighting for 6th seeds and early playoff exits (hello Dallas,) he could have done that. That time would've been marred by people screaming for Ainge to 'stop being sentimental and try to win'. Fans get tired of mediocrity faster than anything else.

      There just was no option to both keep Pierce and shoot for a championship. It's hard to argue for sentimentality when it comes with 3+ years of worsening, mediocre basketball, then a rebuild after that.

      • skeeds

        First of all, Pierce's reputation and legacy as a Celtic doesn't change cause he got traded. I just pointed out that the (ongoing) lack of respect by the management towards him is completely crazy.

        Again, I "get" the trade. It "makes sense". But, if Ainge had a different stance against PP all these years, if he came out when trade rumors were creeping up and said "Pierce is not tradeable, period", no one would argue about it. I NEVER heard a Dallas fan disagree with Dirk being untradeable, or a Spurs fan wondering if it would be better to unload Timmy and Manu because they need to rebuild.

        We just take Ainge's borderline disgusting "strictly business" ways as granted, even if in the end, I think they do as much harm to the team's image towards fans and players alike, as they do good. From the Perk trade to now, he's pulled a LOT of shitty stuff, always for the "good of the team" and yet never achieving anything but frustrating the fans and looking like an a*hole towards players.
        It's much easier to argue against sentimentality when what you're doing actually works. After 3 years of regression and losing every single important piece of the puzzle, (except Rondo), what do we have to work with? Oh right, 3 picks. Great.

        • Phil

          If you haven't heard Dallas fans complaining, you haven't been listening very hard. From the time they let Tyson Chandler walk to now, there's been pretty heavy criticism. You can cite semantics and say that it's the stuff around Dirk that they don't like, but give it a couple years. Dallas is basically test case A for what the Cs could have had over the next couple years. I doubt it's gonna be pretty, but we'll see. They'll like watching Dirk play out the string, but they won't enjoy watching a mediocre team with no hope for the next 5 years.

          I don't know why you seem to want what Dallas has so badly, their outlook is extremely bleak.

          The Spurs are a special case. If Boston did nearly everything right like SA did, Pierce would still be here. Unfortunately, there were a few slip ups, and that's all it takes.

          I'm not a huge fan of Ainge, but to say he hasn't achieved anything is just wrong. He won a championship a few years ago! Of course the team has regressed since then, he won a championship with a core of guys in their mid-30s. Did you expect him to discover the fountain of youth? When the Big 3 was assembled, we were told '3 year window' over and over again. We would be entering year six this season, it was unrealistic to expect that core to still be a championship one.

          You can argue with the individual moves, but it just sounds like you're blindly firing off rage because you wanted a fairy tale ending. Ainge made a move to give the team hope of rebuilding before 2020, and he put Pierce and KG in a solid situation while he did it (going together to a contender is far from a lack of respect.) Three picks don't solve anything, but it helps more than sentimentality and an 8 seed.

        • Phil

          Just to add: If you would prefer a darker future in exchange for watching Pierce play his career out with the Celtics, there's no argument for that. It's your opinion. I would strongly disagree if you stretch that into the opinion that Ainge (or the Celtic organization,) lacks respect for Pierce though.

          • skeeds

            Man, you keep misreading what I say. Who said I want what Dallas has? I just said that that kind of loyalty towards their franchise player makes more sense to me. Dirk's contract, like PP's contract, isn't the biggest obstacle in making a contender. What would be different would be the GM's intentions. Just as the Lakers will undoubtedly continue to put pieces around Kobe to make it work, (even if unsuccessfully) until he retires. You could argue that it's a sure path into a dark future, I could argue that unless the front office pulls off a blockbuster trade with all those picks, the next 3 years will suck just as bad anyway.

            As for firing rage at Ainge, I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed because the route we took after 2010 was (in my opinion) the wrong one, and it has come to this, where completely blowing it up and showing even PP the door became necessary.
            I do think that his cold blooded approach is harmful to the team at times though. He basically drove Ray out of town simply because he refused to be honest to him, for example. My fear is that the way he handles Rondo, saying that he's not for trade but then jumping at every opportunity to ship him, will make it pretty easy for Rondo to show us the middle finger and walk away when his contract expires.

            On a sidenote, you keep saying "sentimental" as a bad thing. I know that winning is everything but you do realize that this team has won 1 championship in 26 years right? Sentimentality is all we have as sports fans, it's why we're connected to the C's, and for what it's worth, it's all that makes this team a succesful business too.

          • Phil

            Well, you're praising Dallas' strategy while attacking Boston's, so that's why I keep misreading as you favoring the former. It's true that neither route guarantees anything though, and if you were to argue that we could come out of the next 3 years with nothing, I wouldn't say it's unlikely. I mentioned it on a previous post, but a couple bad contracts and a couple average late lottery picks (assuming the Cs don't tank,) and the Cs will be worse off than if they had kept Pierce and had a couple more fun first and second round series.

            To me, the one big mistake Ainge made was the summer of 11-12. He had everything set up to start the post Big 3 era, then threw a bunch of bad money at Terry, Bass, Green and Lee to chase a repeat of a very unlikely string of circumstances. They went from having a bunch of cap space to having a bunch of players clogging their cap for 3 years. It made the twilight years of Pierce's career in Boston impossible. The team wasn't good enough and had no room to improve, so Ainge had to act to fix what he screwed up.

            It's a difference of opinion, but I didn't have as much of a problem with his handling of Perk, Ray and Rondo. The Perk trade was a failed attempt to add a more dynamic piece to the team… BUT, if Ainge had held out for Harden (which I still don't know if it was possible or not, but I've never heard anyone say it wasn't,) Pierce would still be here. Ray had plenty of other problems in addition to Ainge; he couldn't easily transition from being the man to being a bench piece. He wasn't happy with Ainge, Rondo, Doc or the situation, and he saw the Big 3 writing on the wall. For Rondo, everything I see says that Ainge has only seriously tried trading him once (for CP3,) and everything aside from that is speculation. I still expect him to be moved sooner rather than later, so I'd be surprised if him walking is an issue.

            Sentimental isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to bad choices when the goal is winning. Different people watch sports for different things. A lot of people claim to be sentimental for the players, but will turn on them as soon as they sign somewhere else. Most people are loyal to the jersey, and most of them are loyal to winning. That's not saying anything about you specifically, but I think you're in the minority if you'd rather have sentimentality than the best chance at winning in the future. And the trade was the best chance for winning in the future.

            Also, it's not about championships as much as it is fielding a team where good postseason basketball is a foregone conclusion. I don't think Chicago is going to win a title in the next 5+ years, but I think there will be some ECF trips and maybe a finals. The Big 3 era was a much bigger success than '1 championship' would lead you to believe. That was five straight years of interesting life and death playoff games and deep runs. That's what I'm hoping starts again in three years.

          • skeeds

            Ah, see, now we start to find common ground. I also think the bad moves started a while back. First one I can pinpoint was letting TA walk in 2010. Whatever the reasons were supposed to be (TA wanted to be a starter, etc) there was something fishy about it.
            I didn't have a problem with the Perk trade (other than the timing and the fact that he'd been kept in the dark about it until it was done). It's a lack of courtesy and respectfulness, that can indeed become harmful for the team when it comes to recruiting. The Ray situation maybe didn't completely be because of this, but the way he was traded and untraded having no idea about it sure didn't make him want to come back for less or try to work things out with Rondo. And I bet my ass that's why he chose Miami instead of any other contender who made him an offer, which was everyone.
            Former players quite often seem to have an issue with how they were handled by Ainge. There's been a ton of instances where you could tell this guy doesn't even care about giving his all stars a heads up. Remember those "Rondo for Westbrook" and "Rondo for CP3" rumors, when Ainge was assuring Rondo he's safe, while he was putting down offers for him?
            I remember thinking, "you stupid jackass, you have the most underpaid allstar in the league, his contract expires right in his prime, even if you don't want to keep him you can cash in big time with a s&t, just play nice!!!"
            Anyway, I wouldn't rather have a fairytale ending for the big 3 than a brighter future for this team, it just sucks that it had to come to this point where this trade was our only option and I think this could have been avoided…
            For what it's worth, I hope Rondo survives this mayhem. I really think that as long as we have a PG with his playmaking ability we are one good move away from being a playoff contender.

          • Phil

            I don't remember hearing that much about players being unhappy with Ainge after leaving, but I could have just missed it. I remember Perk (and Rondo,) being torn up about the trade, but I don't remember anything focusing on Ainge specifically. There was speculation about Ray being mad at Ainge, but again, I think he was disgruntled with everyone.

            I'm not confident enough in my memory of the situation to argue, so I'll just say that if it is something players are thinking about, it will come up later. I think this ending with Pierce/KG actually helps his case though. He put them in a situation where they can play together for a contender. There were much less ceremonial possibilities.

            For the rebuild, I still wonder about Rondo. There's a two year period where the Cs can't add much salary, so they're likely not making any significant move until 2015-16. In 15-16, Rondo goes from a 27/28 year old underpaid all star to a 29/30 year old franchise player making the max. I worry about both paying him the max and how he's going to age without a jump shot. I'll be interested to see how he plays this year and next, because I think the front office needs convinced as well that he's a piece you can start with. He needs to improve on a lot from last year.

            Starting with nothing but draft picks is extremely difficult, but building a contender if you have 18m-20m locked up in the wrong guy is just as tough.

          • roadsidenotes

            It's easy to criticize what Ainge did in the 2010 & 2012 offseasons–after the fact. But at the time, they were defensible moves to extend a championship window. The big mistake in that period was the J-O'Neal signing. That dude had enough red flags to warrant staying away.

            But you look at how that played out–and especially when you look at the 2012-13 season, that has something of the character of Fitch's last season. Not so much in the disposition of Fitch toward the players, but that Fitch was not the right coach for that team. Similarly, I don't think Doc was the right coach for this team last year.

            But the thing is, how could you know that going into the season? You can't. And after coming 8mins. from the Finals, with zero bench scoring–why not add a couple key bench pieces and run it back? I mean, at the time, how does that not make sense? Especially with the counter-example of Cuban's blow-up of a championship team playing out poorly–suggesting that you make the most of what you've got while you've got it.

            Again–based on what Ainge could've reasonably known, those moves were generally defensible, even if they didn't work out. I mean, hey, that's life, right?

          • Phil

            I agree, and I've defended Ainge's moves there before. I kind of glossed over it to save space. I think that offseason is Ainge's big mistake… but I was all for the moves when they happened. Well, except the Green deal. I was one of the everybody who hated that from day 1…. … (How does he get a player option in year 4?!! >_>) …

            To your point about hindsight, everyone was saying that the Cs were 8 minutes from the finals. No one was saying the Cs were a Rose ACL away from a likely 5/6 game loss in the second round (and they were, the ycouldn't put up 75 against that team,) and probably a blow up since they would've seemed far, far away from Miami.

            Once they went all in their fates were set. They were locked into a 3 year window where Doc, Rondo, Pierce and KG was the best possible outcome. It turned out worse than anyone expected I'd say, but it would've been hard to just tear down after being that close.

            Sports is all about injury luck, it just so happens it was another team's injury luck that screwed them in the end.

          • roadsidenotes

            I'm not one to say that they had no chance against the Bulls. I certainly don't think they would've lost in 5.

            What depresses me is how they went out this year. I think in the big book of Doc Rivers Regrets, coaching this team last year will be near the top of the list. Did he use *anyone* besides Garnett properly? And did he even use Garnett properly?

            But in the end, I suppose you always hold onto stuff too long, even the milk in the fridge.

          • Phil

            I'd have to look a lot closer at that season since I'm going off memory, but I remember the Cs having a terrible time playing against that Bulls team, and especially that year. Maybe not five games, but the Cs got up to play Miami a lot more than they got up to play Chicago. Deng always did a great job against Pierce, and it would've been up to Rondo to do everything. Maybe he could've, but that's asking a lot against a Thibs team.

            They got taken to 7 by a Philly team that was basically Chicago's style except the baby version. A lot of people thought Chicago had a solid chance to beat Miami that year before the injury. At the very least, I think a series win was extremely unlikely. More unlikely than upsetting the Heat in my opinion. They matched up well against Miami, better than anyone ever gave them credit for.

            Doc definitely had a rough year last year, but pretty much everyone did. Maybe it was best for the long term though; they got 4 first round picks and a direction.

          • roadsidenotes

            "4 first round picks and a direction"

            True–and how many people get to go out with a bang–Elway winning back to back Super Bowls, Russell delivering that last game 7 against the Lakers to finish his career with *zero* losses in elimination games… But you know what? I suppose in time all we'll remember of last season is that ferocious comeback against the Knicks in game 6……

      • joyfulMa

        Chicago will never trade Derrick Rose. Ever.

  • hax

    Truth wants to be a GM? Come be our GM after retirement!

  • roadsidenotes

    And with talk about how Kobe could prevent the Lakers from landing a premier free agent by either demanding too much salary or demanding too much control, you have to look at him at least and question whether the Lakers are looking after their own best interests by remaining committed to him at all costs.

    Shoot. Larry Bird's running the Pacers, McHale's coaching the Rockets. In fact, Larry's been with the Pacers longer now than he was with the Celtics (I think). Does that make either of them less of a Celtic—or, indeed, anything other than a Celtic? Some people–like Pierce–get to be Celtics. And some people play for the Boston professional basketball club and never get to be Celtics. That's what makes the Celtics different from just about every other franchise.

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  • Johanna

    On an emotional level, I hate this trade. KG and Pierce were the epitome of Celtics basketball, and it would have been great if Pierce in particular would have retired in Boston.

    On the other hand: the Nets improve, at least for a year or two. KG can still anchor a defense, and his jumper will space the floor for Lopez. Pierce is a huge upgrade at SF. Meanwhile the Celtics begin their rebuild just before a loaded draft. They need to figure out what to do with Rondo – I'd keep him – but the deal makes sense.

    Johanna (Renton's River Adventures, Inc.)

  • Great picks for Celtics. After trading Garnett and Pierce to Nets, new young guys should have come. It's not for the next season, but in a couple of years Celtics will fight for the championship again!