Celtics-Nets Blockbuster Trade: Grading Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce to Brooklyn

Josh Cohen@@arealjoshcohenCorrespondent IIJune 28, 2013

Pierce and KG will bring their camaraderie down to the boroughs.
Pierce and KG will bring their camaraderie down to the boroughs.Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics are sending Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, but which side got the better of this star-studded trade?

After a long day's worth of news and the volcanic eruption of Yahoo! Sports NBA analyst Adrian Wojnarowski's Twitter account, the Celtics agreed to send the remaining members of their championship Big Three to the Nets for a potpourri of players and draft picks.

Rich Keefe of CBS Boston reports that the Celtics will send KG, Pierce and Jason Terry to the Nets for (deep breath) Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Tornike Shengelia, Reggie Evans, Keith Bogans and unprotected first-rounders in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Additionally, per Woj, Kris Joseph is also a part of the Brooklyn package, and Boston will have the right to exchange first-round picks in the 2017 draft. Consolidating those two reports, Tim Bontemps of the New York Post writes that Joseph is in the deal, but Shengelia is not.

With so many moving parts, financial implications and long-term ramifications, we need to delve into this thing to determine how this works out for each team. There is risk and reward on both sides; the proportion between them is what we're looking at here.

Boston Celtics: B

This was a pragmatic move by a franchise deeply committed to its two departing stars. Boston identified that its title window with Pierce and KG had closed and chose to use them to build a new winning team.

There could only be two demerits attached to this trade: taking on Gerald Wallace's contract and receiving mediocre draft picks. The rest of the players acquired are virtually inconsequential.

Wallace has three years at $30.3 million remaining on his deal, an egregious amount of money for a player who is very clearly over the hill. He's a non-factor offensively and a step slow defensively, but Boston won't ask him to make an on-court impact anyway.

Considering the Celtics won't be back in contending shape for at least two seasons, Wallace won't take up any much-needed cap space. By the time Boston would look at making its earliest playoff run, a financial albatross will instead be an appetizing expiring contract to trade.

The draft picks likely won't carry a ton of value, but they will still be very useful. Starting in 2016, there is no guarantee that the Nets' pick will end up in the 20s, though any organization with that much star power and such willingness to spend won't likely fall into the sweet spot of the lottery.

So the Celtics will be able to build some nice, cheap depth and hopefully hit a home run mid- to late-first, but they'll be doing most of the reconstruction by bottoming out and building around Rajon Rondo with their own picks.

In short, there is no guarantee any asset the Celtics pick up in this trade is going to replace Pierce or KG as a star. That's disappointing for a perennial playoff team, but it's a substantial haul for a Celtics squad that is willing to go through a down period.

Brooklyn Nets: A

Not only did Brooklyn acquire two starters with championship experience without ceding a single important player, but it also somehow opened up more long-term cap space.

Pierce's contract is non-guaranteed for 2013-14; ditto for Garnett the season after. That means that as soon as two years from now, Brooklyn could have just $5.2 million of Jet Terry on the books from this deal.

Terry is signed for a year less than Wallace at about half the price, so that amounts to a savings of about $20 million for Brooklyn just between those two players. Considering the rest of the pieces traded were entirely expendable, the Nets win on the bottom line here.

Brooklyn is suddenly a bona fide title contender next season and maybe in the season after. Once the KG/Pierce era ends for the Nets, they'll have heretofore unavailable cap space to rebuild around the final years of Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson under their current deals.

That's how an overtly short-term move comes out with surprising long-term gain. But it does come with clear long-term drawbacks too.

The 2017 swap shouldn't be a big issue, but Brooklyn is still giving up three first-rounders. Even if the Nets are consistently contending—which is possible, but of course no guarantee—those picks represent affordable talent that a team needs in order to build around pricey stars.

Ultimately, that's merely the difference between a great deal for Brooklyn and an absolute steal. It's not that Boston didn't get what it needed from the Nets; rather, the Nets got so much for what was so easy to give up.


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