In the aftermath of one of the most important trades in Boston Celtics' recent history, president Danny Ainge reminisced about two former championship centerpieces that ended up being traded from the franchise.
The coalition of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett was one of the first moments in the modern NBA where a duo of trades put the NBA on notice, driving a championship team from the very season they were first assembled.
Pierce and Garnett would later end up going to the Brooklyn Nets after Ainge was given a chance to shuffle the deck and start young once again by trading his elder statesmen.
“I would have been thrilled to let Paul and KG finish their careers as Boston Celtics and have then finish here,” Ainge told Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I would have been fine with that. But we had an opportunity that came up that presented itself that we needed to do for the benefit of our fans, our franchise. It’s not my franchise. It’s not Paul’s franchise. It’s the city of Boston’s franchise and that’s my job to do what I think is best for the franchise. With ownership we work to make decisions that’s best for the long-term benefit of our franchise.”
Ainge traded Pierce, Garnett, Jason Terry and D.J. White in exchange for five players plus the Nets' first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, also reserving the right to swap picks with Brooklyn in 2017.
That swap turned into the very No. 1 overall pick that the organization ultimately traded to the Philadelphia 76ers prior to the draft, turning into top-selection Markelle Fultz come draft night.
While some players have had historic runs, like Pierce, who will be ultimately rewarded by retiring a Celtic this upcoming season, Ainge was obligated to make the more sensible move for the future of the franchise — which at the time was to move a 15-year veteran whose basketball clock was ticking.