Rise of the Brooklyn Celtics

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Six years ago at the NBA draft, Celtics fans watched the proceedings with glassy eyed stares as anticipated franchise saviors Greg Oden and Kevin Durant went 1 and 2, and the fruits of the teams’ obvious tanking turned out to be Jeff Green. But wait! It was all a bait and switch. Jeff Green was headed to the rebuilding Seattle Supersonics (remember them?) in exchange for Ray Allen, yes THE Ray Allen with the second most made threes in the NBA history (at the time). Why make that move in Boston where an extra sharpshooter wouldn’t solve the team’s lack of identity and defensive punch? A miracle trade was in the works between GM Danny Ainge and his former teammate Kevin McHale in Minneapolis. Al Jefferson goes out, and Kevin Garnett, top 5 player in the league for half a decade Kevin Garnett, comes back.

Just like that Boston moves from league worst to a prohibitive favorite. Add in long time Jeff Van Gundy assist coach Tom Thibodeau, and a few veteran pieces like PJ Brown, Sam Cassell, and James Posey, to a starting unit of young Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, the two new stars, and stalwart team captain Paul Pierce, and the guys in green go onto win 66 games and their first title since 1986. They would make one more NBA Finals and a third conference finals ultimately falling short primarily due to injuries, but that first year was truly amazing.

Jump forward to the trade deadline 2011, when GM Ainge trades away defensive specialist center Perkins to take back Jeff Green, the same Jeff Green he originally traded in order to bring in Ray Allen. After a nearly miraculous playoff run in 2012 where the C’s were within one badly missed call in game 2 from upsetting the Heat and making it back to the Finals, Ray Allen would leave in free agency, taking a contract to play for Pat Riley in Miami for less money than the Celtics offered him to stay. The Ubuntu crew that Doc Rivers built into a champion was down to 3. Finally, just last week, Doc himself flew the coup to go try his whistle with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Donald Sterling’s Los Angeles Clippers.

And the final annihilation of the KG Celtics took place last night. Kevin, Pierce, and relative Celtic new-comer Jason Terry are headed to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for the horrible contracts of Gerald Wallace, Kris Kardashian-West-Odom-Humphris, and a pu-pu platter of future picks and role players.

Moment of silence please.

How do we absorb all this? I’m trapped in a glass cage of emotion. I can’t picture Pierce in Brooklyn black. It’s just WRONG. KG is my favorite player, but I’m less sentimental about him as a Celtics fan. The Kid cometh, and the Kid goeth away. But Pierce has been THE Celtic for at least a decade now. Going to be tough to see him suiting up for another franchise.

On the other hand, I’ve got the YES network, so I’ll be able to see all the Nets games, which ain’t bad. And how good is this Nets team now? It’s very hard to say. I like Deron better than Rondo because he has the ability to hit a jump shot. However, one of the great things that Rondo brought to the table for Pierce and KG was hustle. Rajon did a lot of the work for them at both ends with his quick hands, his activity, and his constant pressure on the defense creating openings. I’d like to see this team play a sort of Spurs style with Williams in the Parker role, Brook Lopez in the Duncan role, and the Joe Johnson and the two ex-Celts spacing the floor and moving to the open spots.

Defensively, I’m not sure what they’ll be. KG is still one the absolute elite defenders in the league, but he should be playing something less than 30 minutes per game at this point. Joe and Paul are good wing defenders, but neither in NBA athletic these days. Deron is solid but unspectacular, and Lopez is mediocre for a 7 footer.

Without knowing what sort of style Jason Kidd will want to install as his first experiment in head coaching, it’s tough to project. I’d expect him to be uptempo and point guard reliant, because that’s his style as a player, and that could work if he keeps a deep enough rotation. I’m going to be pulling for them this year. I’ve always been a fan of Deron, and KG and Pierce remain my two favorite players despite the fact that they’ll be wearing new jerseys next year.

Let’s all practice together: N-E-T-S Nets Nets Nets!

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