Watch out, Major League Baseball. The NBA stole your media thunder on trade deadline day, one of the few days on the calendar in which the sport pulls in non-purists to add to plummeting ratings. Furthermore, it’s a day when Barry Bonds is trying to tie Hank Aaron for the all-time home run record, the future home run king Alex Rodriguez is aiming for number 500, and Tom Glavine – one of the all-time elite lefties – seeks elusive 300th win.
Unless Bonds hits the home run tonight, which would not be until after 10pm this evening, the story of the day remains that KG has been traded to the
The Celtics are now relevant. (Yes, even with Doc Rivers coaching.)
But are they the Eastern contender that some are predicting them to be. Not so much. First, let’s take a look at the trade details.
For the sake of this article, we’re avoiding the walking mistake that is the perpetual mismanagement of the Minnesota Timberwolves by former Celtics legend Kevin McHale. They got the best deal possible for an aging superstar. As for the Celtics, there are a number of externalities coming out of this trade and we will look at five of them.
1. Butts in the Seats
This is undeniable. The Celtics will still be the third best ticket in town behind the Sox and the Patriots. However, as I said before, they are now a relevant sports franchise and have come out of their putrid obscurity. If the Celtics do not sell out three-quarters of its games, then the loyalty of fans in Beantown should be examined.
2. Paper-Thin Depth
As for the Celtics, they now have three of the league’s finest players in the aforementioned Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. Unfortunately, the trade leaves them with only players under contract. When I first heard the details, my gut reaction, “the NBDL will make or break this team.” Excluding possibly “Big Baby” Glen Davis, it would be tough to spot Celtics players outside the Big 3 in a police line-up.
3. Susceptible to Injury and Aging
KG is a warrior. Paul Pierce has been known to play through pain. Ray Allen was one of two reasons why the SuperSonics were borderline watchable. Last season, two of the big three – Pierce and Allen – combined to miss a total of 62 games while Garnett has missed six games in each of the last two seasons. Conventional wisdom may lend to the belief that as the Big 3 inch closer to their social security windfall (or complete lack thereof), they could easily miss close to or exceed the combined 68 games missed due to injury and/or suspension last season. Despite having three veteran stars, the Celtics are still a young team and have traded in a host of four-year veterans for two of the league’s best and what will be a host of nobodies.
4. Money, Money, Money, Mo----ney ... MONEY!
At present, the luxury tax threshold is $67.865 million for this upcoming season. According to HoopsHype,
In a word, no. Phrases like “ephemeral rise to relative glory” may be found ten years from now when reflecting on the two major acquisitions’ effect on team history. This effort is one by Danny Ainge to make his mark on the Celtics franchise right now. The short-term worries of relevance and ticket sales are taken care of, but the Celtics should not be taken seriously by the masses until they reach at least the 2nd round of the playoffs. I stopped short of saying the Eastern Conference finals, because three teams – the Detroit Pistons, the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland LeBrons – are stronger and more complete than the Celtics. Nevertheless, in three years time, the Celtics will have either sunk or swam. To swim signifies that the Celtics brass must conduct business proactively and restructure their stars’ contracts in order to attract a stronger supporting cast. The less palatable option would involve unfulfilled returns from Garnett and Allen leading the organization into a deeper level of obscurity than seen prior to their arrival.
No matter how you look at it, the Celtics are a stronger team now than they were yesterday and a shoe-in for the Eastern Conference playoffs barring a complete disaster. Will Doc Rivers be accountable for losing close games and tinkering with a million different starting lineups? I hope so.