Back in 2013, the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics agreed to a deal that would change both teams for forever. In the exchange, the Celtics sent Paul Peirce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph and three unprotected first-round draft picks.
Right then, fans, media, and even non-basketball analysts trashed the Nets for such a bold and crazy move. It has since been called the worst trade in NBA history. However, I’m one of the few who disagree with that narrative.
We can break this trade down in so many ways but today, we’re going to just talk the in-your-face facts. Brooklyn did what was needed to be done. In some eyes, Danny Ainge took advantage of Billy King. No, he did not.
For starters, let’s look at who the Nets gave up. There was Brooks who averaged 5.4 points, Humphries (5.8), Wallace (7.7), Bogans (4.2), and Joseph (0.5). These players’ totals equaled what Pierce was able to put up himself while with Boston. So, the move made plenty of sense from a production and roster standpoint. Then you add in Garnett and one of the top reserves in Terry– why not make this deal?
But then it came down to what really had fans going bat crazy. There were not one, not two, but three unprotected first-round picks. This is where Ainge got the better end of the stick. At least that’s what we all thought. No one can see into the future, and now that we can take a step back and analyze the trade again, Boston didn’t scam the Nets as much as we thought they did.
The Celtics received the Nets’ 2014 first round pick (James Young). Well, Young never amounted to anything for the Celtics. They used the Net’s 2016 pick to select Jaylen Brown who has had his ups and downs with the Celtics but looks to be a picture in their future. They also received the Nets’ 2017 pick which turned out to be the No. 1 choice. The Celtics used that in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers in which they selected Jayson Tatum.
So, now that they have the pieces in place, what exactly did the Nets and Celtics accomplish after this historic deal?
For the Nets, they were just a few pieces away from contending for a championship in 2013 when the deal was completed. Think back to their lineup. The Brooklyn Nets had Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Joe Johnson. Then you add in Garnett and Pierce and the Nets, on paper had possibly the greatest starting five in NBA history.
The Nets went to the playoffs each season that starting unit was intact. However, age and injuries derailed any real success. The Celtics, on the other hand, fared just about the same as the Nets, But for them, it was about ridden themselves of aging players and building towards the future. But the facts are, what did they really accomplish?
After the Nets starting unit was dismantled with trades and releases, they struggled for a few seasons. What made matters worse was that the Celtics owned their picks which put the Nets in a difficult spot. But still, even armed with the Nets top picks, the Celtics still haven’t achieved anything special.
Yes, they have some young talent but so does Brooklyn. While Brooklyn was suffering and dealing with second-round picks, the Boston Celtics were supposed to be raising a banner. What has happened is that the Nets have managed to find themselves back in the hunt while the Celtics have used those picks, spent millions on free agency and still, no championship. So how exactly did they win this trade?
There is Kyrie Irving who may leave after this season. They have Al Horford who has struggled in his time with the Celtics, and then there is the major disappointment of Gordon Hayward. All that money tied into these three players and the Nets have managed to build a playoff team with second-tier draft picks and a talented PG the Lakers didn’t want.
So the question of why the Brooklyn Nets agreed to the worst trade in NBA history is a bit off-center. The truth is, they agreed to this trade simply because they were a few pieces away from winning a championship and thought they had struck gold with a veteran bunch. However, since the trade has played out, it’s clear that the Celtics are the real losers here, as they have seemingly fared no better than the Nets.