This trade was so epically bad, it still impacts the league many years later!
The Celtics sent the decomposing corpses of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph and three unprotected first-round draft picks.
Yes, you read that right, unprotected. The Nets got the Celtics pregnant!
Sorry, I’m not sorry.
About those picks, Boston received first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. In addition, the Celtics also got the rights to swap first-round picks in 2017.
While teaming up; Pierce, Garnett, and Terry with Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, and Iso Joe Johnson made sense on paper, even though everyone could see this impending disaster.
At the time of the trade, KG was 37, Pierce was 36, and Terry was 35. The Truth, Big Ticket, and the Jet were so old, they had nicknames which conjured a small window for success was imminent.
Garnett and Pierce were out of Brooklyn by 2015, while Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge used the Nets’ draft assets to land Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum — among others — and made a trade for Kyrie Irving.
This heist has become a cautionary tale for all of the General Managers around the league. Winning “right now” has worked out for the Toronto Raptors by taking a risk on Kawhi Leonard, but by-and-large, using every asset a franchise has in order to obtain prove, yet near-retired stars is generally not a great tactic.
So who is to blame for this debacle? Why did the Nets agree to this trade?
Billy King, the Nets GM at the time, is the one who naturally gets the majority of the blame, but was he the main culprit? King took full ownership of the disastrous trade, however he had “pressure” from then-Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov to make a blockbuster deal. He has even said that he wouldn’t have made the trade if he was GM of another team.
And for those who may have somehow forgotten, Prokhorov came to the NBA with incredible fanfare. He talked about winning an NBA title within five years, outlets wrote puff pieces while ignoring how he earned his money in a Wild West-ish Russian landscape, and then he vanished like a fart in the wind.
So let’s dig into that for a moment.
Despite his grand proclamations and heavy monetary commitment to the Nets, Prokhorov was never around and rarely talked to anybody besides the Russian underlings he had left behind, mainly his liaison, Dmitry Razumov.
Razumov, the chairman of the board of directors, acted in many ways as the owner of the team, operating out of the spotlight but very much enjoying the glamorous perks that accompanied the position — like courtside seats next to Jay-Z.
An investment banker by trade, he knew nothing about basketball before joining the Nets… Just the person you want running your NBA team, right? A lot of people have said Razumov wanted to make a splash, and was the one who pushed the deal for Garnett and Pierce.
“Dmitry’s a star chaser,” said a former Nets executive. “And Prokhorov and his people were obsessed with the flashiest things — the biggest yacht, the most expensive champagne, the biggest stars, the Mercedes.”
Meanwhile, nobody in basketball operations dealt directly with Prokhorov, who always talked a big game in press conferences. Case in point, that same season, Prokhorov went five-plus months without attending a game.
Have you ever not shown up for work for five months? Has your boss or owner of the place you work for not shown up to your place of operations for five months?
Five months is a LONG TIME! You can binge every season of Lost, The Leftovers, The 4400, Game of Thrones, and Cop Rock and STILL HAVE TIME LEFTOVER to consume hundreds of hours of whatever tickles your fancy.
In all, 15 players and picks were exchanged in the original deal.
Luckily for Nets fans, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. King was fired and then Sean Marks was named the Nets new GM in 2016. He and his staff have been making sharp moves ever since.
After five nightmare years the fallout of the trade aftermath has finally settled, t Nets made the playoffs this season, and have a solid young core in players like Jarrett Allen, D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert.
As for Prokhorov, after the notorious trade, he became more and more distant from the team and in 2017, he sold 49% to Joseph Tsai, co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. So, while Billy King will always be remembered as the fall guy, don’t forget about Prokhorov and his minion Razumov as the ones who actually pulled the strings.
The good news here? Someone cut the strings from out underneath them, leaving Marks in a position to help the franchise reach the potential Prokhorov once promised.