The forecast for Thursday night's NBA draft called for a flurry of activity.
But no amount of storm preparations could have readied hoops heads for the shock wave stirring in the Northeast.
Two Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, came together to give the 2013 offseason its first blockbuster trade. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were sent to continue their championship chase with the talent-rich team in Brooklyn, while Bostonians had no other choice but to put their championship hopes on hold indefinitely.
Sam Amick of USA Today filled in the details of the mega-swap. Garnett, Pierce and Jason Terry are heading to the Nets in exchange for Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and three future first-round draft picks.
Amick reports that in order for Garnett to waive his no-trade clause, Brooklyn had to guarantee his entire $12 million salary for the 2014-15 season which was only half-protected. The deal can't officially be formalized until July 10; 10 days after Pierce's salary for next season becomes fully guaranteed.
After years of speculating when Celtics team president Danny Ainge would finally pull the plug on the Garnett-Pierce-Doc Rivers era in Boston, that time has finally come. All that's left of Boston's last shining moment is the 2008 NBA championship banner that hangs in the crowded rafters of the TD Bank Garden.
But the days of rebuilding have only just begun. Armed with a slew of movable assets, Ainge isn't close to overhauling his roster.
According to NESN's Ben Watanabe, Ainge doesn't plan on trading All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo "right now." Considering Rondo's still rehabbing the torn ACL he suffered in late January, Ainge might not have even any other choice.
Still, it feels like a Rondo move is inevitable. A league executive told NBA.com's Sekou Smith is not "off-limits" and wants to see Ainge's other moves before deciding if he wants to stick around for what could be a long road back to relevance.
An All-Star selection in each of the last four seasons, Rondo maximizes the level of play from his teammates perhaps better than any other point guard in the league. But he can't create masterpieces from a blank canvas; he has to have players around him that are ready, willing and able to produce off of his timely feeds.
If Ainge doesn't find Rondo some help better than Wallace, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, then Rondo has no way of putting his unique skill set on display.
Rondo's not the only coveted commodity at Ainge's disposal, far from it actually.
Bradley and Jared Sullinger are still working for rookie-scale salaries, so Ainge would just as well keep the pair around.
Everyone else is up for grabs.
Green (two years, $17.9 million remaining with a $9.2 million player option for 2015-16), Wallace (three years, $30-plus million), Brandon Bass (two years, $13.7 million) and Courtney Lee (three years, $16.35 million) are going to be tough to move, but Ainge should be shopping his veterans as hard as he can. Brooks and Jordan Crawford are cheap microwave scorers and potentially intriguing fillers as part of a bigger deal.
To fuel one of those large-scale swaps, Ainge has a few heavy hitters to get buyers' attention.
Humphries (a career 6.6 points-per-game scorer) hasn't looked this attractive since he had ex-wife Kim Kardashian on his arm. His expiring $12 million is a potential gold mine for Boston, with the 2014 summer potentially yielding superstar talents in both the free-agent market and the draft.
The real prize for Boston, though, could come in the form of its own draft picks and that trio of choices coming from Brooklyn. The 2014 selection reportedly comes with protections (and, as Amick notes, could potentially be swapped with the Atlanta Hawks in the unlikely event that it's the worse of these two picks), but the pair of picks for 2016 and 2018 are protection-free.
I can't tell you who's coming down the pipeline in those drafts, but I can point to the fact that there could be a drastically different team in Brooklyn by that time. Garnett, Pierce and Terry are all at least 35 years old, and Joe Johnson is 32.
The Nets pulled the trigger on this deal for the chance to win now. Winning in 2015-16 is, at best, out of their minds or, at worst, outside the realm of realistic possibilities.
Watching a championship hopeful roster transition to a full-on youth movement is an exhaustive exercise. No matter if those title dreams were a bit far-fetched, their existence was undeniable nonetheless.
That's obviously no longer the case. Playoff hopes may even be hard to come by over the next few seasons.
Yet as painful as it may sound, Celtics fans have to find a way to embrace this process.
There's no telling what lies ahead for this franchise. But those uncertain thoughts and endless possibilities are all part of the fun.
Ainge doesn't shy away from bold decisions. His next could be the turning point for restoring relevance to one of the league's most storied organizations.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!