After their morning shootaround at Barclays Center, Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks were involved in a shooting contest, the final shot from about 35 feet out. As they were playing, Kris Humphries and Keith Bogans iced down various parts of their body, as is commonplace for veterans after practices.
The weird part: unlike last season, the four wore green uniforms, visitors in the Brooklyn arena for the first time in their careers.
Humphries, Wallace, Bogans, and Brooks were shipped out by the Brooklyn Nets this past July in the trade that brought lifetime Celtics forward and future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce, fellow future Hall of Fame forward Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Nets organization.
Much has been made about Brooklyn’s side of the trade, as it signifies their quest for a championship, but Boston made the deal with the polar opposite in mind. The Celtics are right in the middle of a rebuilding process, with their best player (Rajon Rondo) out until at least December and only a sprinkling of veterans among their youth. They’re one of the many teams in the NBA primed for the 2014 NBA Draft, where at least a half-dozen prospects look primed for stardom. Despite the Nets shopping for Pierce earlier in the season, Wallace didn’t see it coming.
“I was shocked,” Wallace admitted. “Surprised. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t know nothing about it. But you know, you kind of figured. So just take it how it is, and move forward. It’s a part of the NBA.”
Wallace enjoyed playing on a winning team in Brooklyn, but struggled with his shot-making and various injuries throughout last season. He’s looking forward, but it’s difficult as a veteran player to be a part of a rebuilding franchise. “Coming to a situation like this, a young team, a rebuilding process, it’s kind of tough getting into, but I’m here now.”
The deal wouldn’t have been possible under the collective bargaining agreement without the Celtics agreeing to take on Humphries’s contract, valued at $12 million this year. He bounced in and out of the rotation under Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo last season, sitting out at one point for three full weeks. “I think we went through a lot just with the rotation and different things last year,” Humphries said. “It was a tough year I think for a lot of guys, just the flow of what we were doing. But not to dwell on the past. It’s all about where I’m at now.”
“I think that every experience you gotta take stuff from,” Humphries added about his time in Brooklyn. “There’s a lot of positive and that’s what I’ll remember.”
Brooks was originally not included in the deal, but switched out for Reggie Evans to appease both Garnett (who wanted Reggie Evans on the roster) and Brooks (who wanted a fresh start elsewhere). “I didn’t take nothing personal,” Brooks said of the trade. “It’s a business. You get a chance to get KG and Paul Pierce, you gotta do what you gotta do. ”
The Nets did. And by entering Barclays Center as an opponent, the new-look Celtics closed a chapter — if it wasn’t already. “I don’t care about last season,” Wallace said. “I’m worried about this season.”