Celtics GM opens up about Pierce, Garnett trade

Paul Pierce, Danny Ainge
Paul Pierce (left) with Danny Ainge in 2006. (AP)
Paul Pierce, Danny Ainge
Paul Pierce (left) with Danny Ainge in 2006. (AP)

In a podcast with Grantland, Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge touched on the trade that sent former Celtics Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets.

Ainge — who called the Nets “New Jersey” on multiple occasions — said the trade evolved out of a conversation that had nothing to do with the idea of sending a Celtics lifer and another Hall of Famer out of town.

“(It’s) something that I really didn’t think would happen,” Ainge told Bill Simmons on the podcast, “simply because it takes sort of a special, unique circumstance in order for a trade like that to go through, and the tax ramifications of Brooklyn are I would call unique in today’s day and age in the NBA right now with the new CBA.

“But (the Nets are) a team that was really going for it, and money was not an object. That was probably the reason why we got a better offer today than we would’ve even gotten 2 or 3 years ago.”

The Nets traded Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, three first-round draft picks (the least favorable of the Nets & Hawks picks in 2014, 2016, 2018), and the right to swap first-round picks in 2017. The trade actually saves the Nets money in the long-term, but thanks to the punitive luxury tax in the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, adding short-term salary means that Mikhail Prokhorov will pay over $180 million for this year’s roster alone. (And that doesn’t even include the price of Billy King, Jason Kidd, and Kidd’s six assistant coaches.)

How much does that matter? Not really sure. Prokhorov’s worth is on the right side of $10 billion, and Forbes estimated the Nets’ worth at roughly $750 million after doing some quick and dirty calculations based on the worth of Jason Kidd’s new shares in the team. So he’s probably paying for this team’s cost with the gold in his couch cushions.

Pierce is represented by agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management. Schwartz also represents Kidd and Nets point guard Deron Williams, and is the US rep for Nets forward Mirza Teletovic. Ainge speculated that Schwartz may have had a big role in convincing Pierce to join forces with Brooklyn, who in turn convinced Garnett.

“My guess is that they had some conversation about it,” Ainge said. “I know that Paul was the one that talked KG into wanting to do the deal, letting go of his no-trade clause to make the deal happen and that took some convincing.”

Ainge also speculates (without direct knowledge) that Kidd was a part of those conversations. “Jason has been through playing basketball in his late 30s up to 40… he was able to tell KG ‘I’ve been through this, I know how the body is, I won’t wear you out, I’ll save you for the important times of the season.’ I think that was probably intriguing to KG.”

With a big man rotation of Garnett, Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche, Mirza Teletovic, Reggie Evans, and Andrei Kirilenko able to play small-man 4 minutes, Garnett should have his minutes limited. Kidd has also said he won’t play Garnett in back-to-back games.

Ainge expressed some sadness at letting Pierce go, who had been a part of the Celtics franchise for his entire 15-year career, but said it was the right thing to do for Boston Celtics fans. “Him and KG, the combination of those two are just what the other one needed. … I just think it came to the point where those guys as the best two players on a team aren’t going to go very far. Those guys as a 3rd and 4th, or 4th and 5th, however you look at it, are pretty dang good still.”

Grantland — The B.S. Report: Danny Ainge | 9.5.2013