The Future Is Now
UPDATE (4:55 p.m.) There's a slight change in the Garnett deal from what I have below. Rajon Rondo stays, Bassy Telfair goes. So long, Bassy, we hardly knew ye. That said, the more I think about it, the more I like that trade. A bunch of people have mentioned it to me today, and it's great that the Celts are relevant again. That alone might make it a great trade.
More importantly at this point, the Sox just finished a trade for Eric Gagne. That means in October, you'd better be beating the Sox after six innings, because Okijima, Gagne and Papelbon are waiting after that. Yikes. Sure, Gagne's back my cripple him any day now, but whatever. That bullpen is now ferocious.
I know, I know, you don't want to hear it. If you don't want to read about the Celtics, you're free to go. But....
My first reaction to the megatrade for Kevin Garnett was immediate anger. I didn't want to see Al Jefferson go away. Throw in two serviceable players (Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes), the C's best trade bait (Theo Ratliff's contract) and apparently the starting point guard (Rajon Rondo) -- and a top pick, and that's quite a bounty.
My negativity -- Rick Pitino would be so proud -- was that fact that the Celtics traded away the future we've had to sit through and nurture over the last few years. Coming on the heels of the Ray Allen trade, I was done with Danny Ainge yesterday afternoon.
In the long term, this might not be a good trade for the Celtics. In three years or so, when Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are all in their mid-30s, this will be an old team (hello, late 80s/early 90s Celts). There is so much money wrapped up in those three players that there will be little cash to flesh out the roster. By the way, who's the point guard? The team's two "best," Delonte West and Rondo, are gone.
But for the next two or three years, the Celtics suddenly matter. A lot. And for 82 games a year, we get to watch a star (Pierce) and a superstar (Garnett) on the same court for the same team. Cool.
More importantly, for the next two or three years, the Celtics are in fact contenders to at least make the Finals, if not win them. Part of that is because the Eastern Conference stinks. Bad. A Celtics team of its latter-day Big Three, me, and Dan Mylott would make the playoffs (allegedly Mylott is a great spot-up shooter).
Cleveland won the conference this year, and that team was a one-man band. Detroit's on the downside, Chicago is a player short (Allen or Garnett would be huge there, in fact), Miami could be dangerous if Shaq muscles up, but that mystique is fading fast. In short, the Celtics are suddenly in the mix.
So, today, fresh off a mini-vacation, I'm taking the optimistic outlook. Even at best, a fully matured Jefferson with Pierce and other parts would be looking at a two- or three-year window to compete -- in two or three years. That timetable just got moved up, and this team is more solid.
Obviously, it's better to have your teams always competitive and able to just reload through its monster resources (the Red Sox) or its smarts (the Patriots, although they're not my team. I'm a Raiders fan). To think Ainge and Doc Rivers will be able to reload this team is still not a trustworthy situation. So you have a two-year window to sit back and watch three stars try to get the Celtics back to basketball's biggest stage. That would be cool.