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Weekend Notebook: The Past, Present and Future of the Trade

 

This notebook of Celtics news and notes looks into the recent blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

THE LAST MAN

Rajon Rondo, the only remaining player from the 2008 championship team, is officially the leader of the Celtics. He has learned the responsibilities of that job from spending six years with two of the best role models in the NBA, courtesy of ESPN Boston’s Chris Forsberg:

After the Boston Celtics were pushed to the brink of playoff elimination in late April, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo held a lengthy huddle in the shower area inside the team’s locker room at TD Garden. After the powwow, there was a sense that the trio might have been pondering the future and the potential that Garnett and Pierce were playing their final games in a Celtics uniform.

Unfortunately for those hoping that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would finish their respective careers in green, Danny Ainge expedited the rebuilding process by shipping the veterans off to Brooklyn. However, the former Celtic big man will never forget his relationship with his point guard:

“This whole transition, man, we came in as strangers and bonded as brothers,” said Garnett, a person whom Rondo has previously suggested was his closest friend on the team.

In addition, Pierce has some wide advice for Rondo, who will be going through a situation seems to be similar to the one that the Truth encountered in Boston not too long ago:

“Right now, he’s injured and I told him this is probably going to be the toughest year of your whole career, mentally and physically,” said Pierce. “Physically, you’re dealing with an injury. Mentally, you know nothing but winning since you came into the league… You may be put in a situation where you may not win a lot of games. You have to be a leader now, you know me and Kev are not there anymore.

“You have to go through these times. I’ve been through them. I explained to him how I went through it. I feel like, I’m one of the best players in the league and now… [Rondo is] going to be in that situation for maybe one year or two years, who knows? But you have to be mentally prepared for it, and that’s some of the things we talked about.”

Entering his eighth year in the league, the 27-year-old has already shown his passion on court in many instances, but never has had the burden of carrying a team for a long time. Ainge believes his main man could be ready for a full season:

Ainge did admit that the team might have to take it slow with Rondo during training camp starting in late September, but said being ready for opening night in late October was a reasonable goal.

As the longest-tenured Celtic, Rondo has witnessed a seemingly endless number of changes to Boston’s roster over the last few years. If he remains in green, he has the chance to be the cornerstone of the franchise moving forward just as Pierce was before him:

This most certainly will be the toughest season for Rondo. But it’s also one that could define him as a player and a leader. His friends are gone and it’s up to Rondo to fill their shoes.

 

THE CAPTAIN CONVINCED THE BIG TICKET

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald delves deep into how Garnett decided to waive his no-trade clause:

[W]hen Jason Kidd, his old adversary and new head coach of the Nets, called to talk about the impending trade between the Celtics and Brooklyn, Pierce took the next step himself. He called Kevin Garnett in an attempt to talk his old friend into waiving his no-trade clause.

The call lasted for approximately two hours, with Pierce outside on his cell phone in the 100-degree Las Vegas heat, and Garnett secluded in his Malibu home. By the end of it Pierce’s shirt was drenched. But he had made a very tough sell work.

Wow, Garnett does not like change; he needed to be persuaded to leave Minnesota and now Boston. While it is bittersweet for fans of the green to wave goodbye to these two players, Pierce knows why he called the defensive stalwart:

Like Rivers, Pierce was a member of that 24-win team during the 2006-07 season. He fully understood and supported Danny Ainge’s decision to shop for assets, especially if it meant moving somewhere with Garnett.

Not only does Pierce understand how it is to be Rondo’s current position, but he also recognizes the fact that the Celtics’ organization must enter a new era. Moreover, Pierce acknowledges the difficulty of playing for a lottery team:

“It would have been tough to go back to an environment that wasn’t trying to win a championship,” he said. “When you get that taste of success, when you get that good meal or the taste of something good, you don’t want to go backward, and that’s how I felt. Doc felt the same way. Kevin felt the same way. That’s why we put ourselves in these situations.”

 

THE “NEW” RIVALRY

Although Pierce and Garnett are fighting for a title in a different uniform, they remain in the Eastern Conference to try to accomplish that feat. They know a familiar blue and orange foe stands in their way for the divisional crown, as Mark Murphy discusses:

Judging from some of the local reaction to Paul Pierce yesterday, you would have thought the former Celtics forward had never played a game at Madison Square Garden before.

In truth, he has more history against the Knicks than any of his new Nets teammates. But Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry are indeed now a part of a cross-city rivalry that should easily eclipse what exists between the Clippers and Lakers this season.

There is healthy amount of star power in New York, and Pierce, Garnett and Terry will look to exact revenge on the team that ended their season only three months ago:

“This rivalry has been here, it’s gonna be here, but I think the energy we’re going to provide to this rivalry is great,” said Pierce. “There was a rivalry in Boston. They hated me in the Garden, and they’re probably going to hate me even more now. That’s going to be good for everybody. It’s going to be a good story, it’s going to be good for the city. It’s going to be fun walking into a restaurant and people yelling Knicks, and other yelling Brooklyn. I know that goes on a lot. So I’m excited to be a part of that right now.”

 

CHAMPIONSHIP OR BUST

‘Championship or bust’ is not the Celtics’ mantra for 2013-14, but the one for the Nets. Mikhail Prokhorov is ready, as noted by the New York Post’s Fred Kerber:

He is driven by results, a bottom-line guy. He is somewhat impatient for an NBA title (“I have done what I can. Now I think it is high time for the team to do the rest,” he said, deadpan). He is a man willing to do and spend whatever it takes for that title. On that goal, he is all in, all the time.

But he is one more thing: a bachelor. And he wants to keep it that way a little longer. He once teased if the Nets didn’t win a title within five years, he would marry. It has been three years. But after the Nets’ latest overhaul, he likes his chances of keeping away from the altar.

Just one year ago, this team lost two-thirds of its games in the lockout-shortened NBA season. They are now a contender for the championship, and Prokhorov threw caution to the wind by deciding to spend more than $80 million in luxury taxes:

He wants to rule the NBA, not just New York, but couldn’t avoid a slight tweak directed at the Knicks.

“I want to congratulate James Dolan,” Prokhorov said. “He’s watching us for the time being.”

Well, if all of Prokhorov’s fantasies come true, Celtics fans might be able to take solace in Pierce, Garnett and the Nets taking down the Knicks and Heat.

For more Celtics coverage and pertinent statistics, follow Celtics Hub and Stats Adam Lowenstein on Twitter: @CelticsHub and @StatsAdam

  • Mark

    Nah, I’m still rooting for an epic Nets and Hawks collapse/failure so the Celtics get two lottery picks in a deep draft.

    • Sophomore

      Hate to say it, but yes.

      • fabzzz

        Do we have a Hawks pick?

  • Phil

    I'm glad we're all pretending the 'this is Rondo's team' fiasco of last season never happened. It's probably better for everyone >_>

    Jokes aside, I'll be very interested to see how Rondo responds this year (assuming he's given a full chance to prove himself.) We've been imploring him to be playoff Rondo all year for years now. If it doesn't happen soon, it's time to give up. His FT attempts need to go way up, and his scoring and assist rate should go in opposite directions considering the surrounding talent. I still don't like all of this talk about 'returning early' and 'winning', but that's another conversation.

    I think the Knicks are the least of the Nets' worry if they're playing for a championship, but it could be an interesting 4/5 series at least. I want to see how the Nets play this year. They'll be overhyped coming into the year because of NEW YORK!! but I think they're being underrated by the smart guys. Health is a real issue, but I love KG and Pierce as complimentary players. That defense is gonna be good, and I like the KG/Lopez front court.

    • elroz

      KG-Lopez and KG-Evans front courts would be pretty good.

    • Mark

      You actually believed the BS Ainge, Doc and Pierce we're peddling last season about that? As long as Pierce and KG were still on the team Rondo was never going to be the leader. For good and bad. It's a new locker room and he's the only guy with a ring so that should go a long way with the younger guys.

      • Phil

        I didn't believe it then because of how blatantly obvious it was on the court, but I also wasn't one of the people pushing the narrative. It just seems like you should actually acknowledge that the official word from the Celtics has been 'Rondo is our leader' for over a year now if you were helping get that word out before and are restarting the same narrative now.

        I wasn't joking when I said everyone's better off if we ignore it. From a Celtics' fan perspective, let's just say it was all Doc and pretend it didn't happen. That way Rondo can start with a clean slate.

    • hydrofluoric

      Rondo is what he is. And personally I'm glad he's not bringing his A-game to every regular season game – he's a freak, but not enough of a freak that that would be even remotely sustainable for even 10 consecutive games without detonating his body. We should not want Rondo to be our workhorse; he should be a sparkplug (which he currently is).

  • metta biggest fan

    you will suck for 20 more years
    Rondo or no Rondo

    • Mark

      When was it the Knicks last won a title?

  • james patrick

    does anyone know how amnesty works and why we can't use it on wallace or bass, or even lee for that matter?

    • Josh_5

      My understanding is that you can only amnesty a player that you had signed to contract before the new CBA rules went into effect.

    • hydrofluoric

      Their contracts were signed after the start of the last CBA.

  • bobby

    and they wernt signed by the celtics, you cant amnesty a player you didnt sign. but wallace's cap number can be be stretched out and lowered.

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