Let’s start with the winners in this trade.
Jason Kidd: Jason Kidd is apparently a great head coach. He’s been with the Brooklyn Nets for just a couple weeks and the franchise is already a contender. The trade will provide further veterans around Brooklyn’s new coach, including Kevin Garnett, who was drafted just a year after Kidd. It’s easier to coach veterans, especially guys like Garnett and Paul Pierce, than it is to try to jell talent that’s never won. Kidd isn’t on his own; imagine a Celtics practice with Garnett pushing teammates or a huddle with Pierce helping rally Kidd’s message.
Kevin Garnett: Kevin Garnett will get one more shot at an NBA championship. One of the league’s biggest name superstars of the last nearly two decades, Garnett becomes a valuable piece in the Brooklyn Nets’ effort to contend for a title. Not only is he back in a winning situation, but he’ll continue to earn high dollars. Garnett waived his no-trade clause and the Nets fully guaranteed his $12 million contract owed to him for the 2014-15 season, per Adrian Wojnarowski. Garnett never produced with the Celtics as he did with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but even at 37 years old he still averaged 14.8 points on 49.6 percent shooting and 7.8 rebounds through 68 games. His fire will never go anywhere, and he’s the perfect leader to pair with Coach Kidd, former teammate Paul Pierce and the younger personality of Deron Williams. This trade makes the Nets a legitimate challenge to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, but it will also be intriguing to watch how Kidd works well with his veteran stars.
Deron Williams: Forget the numbers. Certainly it will help Deron Williams’ statistics being able to initiate the pick-and-roll with Kevin Garnett and drive-and-kick to Paul Pierce. The point guard will thrive in a system coached by Jason Kidd with plenty of weapons. But the true value in the trade for Williams becomes the veteran leads of what Garnett and Pierce will bring. Williams has a competitor’s fire, but he always seemed held back in previous situations. With Garnett and Pierce, Williams should roar as a competitor in a way that Rajon Rondo learned to be. Winning will help to, as the Nets’ turn to contenders will only further the appreciation for what Williams can do.
Paul Pierce: It’s going to be strange to see Paul Pierce out of Celtics green. But remember, this is good for him—really good. The Celtics probably could have returned the same core, but with a healthy Rajon Rondo, and pushed back into the postseason with the hopes of something special happening. Remember, this team is just one full season removed from taking the Miami Heat to seven games. Pieces began to drop off slowly, however, as first Ray Allen left, then Doc Rivers left and it appeared Garnett was set to retire or be traded somewhere else. Where would that have left Pierce? Now, the veteran forward will not have to drown in Celtics losses as he counts down to his retirement. He moves on with Garnett as his teammate to (presumably) go contend for a title with the Nets. He can still score and he still has the desire to defend the other team’s best player. Plus, he will still get paid. The Celtics were likely to use a $5 million buyout option sending Pierce into free agency, but now Pierce will receive the $15.3 million he is owed in 2013-14.
Now let’s look at the losers in this trade.
Rajon Rondo: Rajon Rondo is all by himself. He’s the odd man out after the Celtics have now sent away Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers. The All-Star point guard went down with an ACL injury midseason and he’ll return to a far different environment. When Rondo entered the league as a rookie, the Celtics were a 24-win team in the 2006-07 season. The Big Three of Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen was formed in the following season’s championship run and the Celtics were a playoff team ever since. Now the point guard will likely have to get used to losing again and it may be a few years until Boston is back. Rondo is one of the Celtics’ good contracts at $11.9 million next season and $12.9 million in 2014-15. The Celtics will continue to keep him as the team’s centerpiece, which won’t be a fun role for Rondo moving forward.
Gerald Wallace: It’s not as if Gerald Wallace is going from a parade float in Brooklyn to basketball’s abyss, but the veteran swingman certainly will be missing out on the Nets’ future as contenders. The soon-to-be 31-year-old legs of Gerald Wallace has yet to play a significant role for a contender, and now he’s back to a rebuilding team. Because Wallace is making $10.1 million annually through the next three seasons, his contract matched perfectly for what was needed to make the blockbuster deal happen. Unfortunately for Wallace, he’s a causality.
Celtics Fans: Boston Celtics fans can’t like this deal. Paul Pierce has been the heart of that city’s basketball world for his entire career and watching him go play for the Brooklyn Nets won’t be a fun sight. What’s worse though is the rebuilding period that’s about to occur. The salaries brought in through the trade don’t help the Celtics, so it’s truly a move for the draft picks. But if the Nets are playing contending basketball, those picks aren’t as meaningful. The Celtics’ growth back to contenders could take a long, long time.