Bean: The Nets deal ruined trades for Celtics fans

Bean: The Nets deal ruined trades for Celtics fans

Danny Ainge can thank his 2013 trade with the Nets for the enviable position in which the Celtics find themselves as regular-season contenders with the best future assets in the league. If and when he wonders why locals are less than ecstatic with his latest trade with the 76ers, he can thank the Nets deal for that, too. 

The Pierce-and-Garnett-for-five-people-who-were-for-sure-basketball-players-and-up-to-four-of-Brooklyn’s-first-rounders trade has basically ruined all trades for Celtics fans for a long time. 

That trade -- Pierce, Garnett, Jason Terry and D.J. White for for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans and first-rounders in 2014, 2016 and 2018, plus the right to swap picks in 2017 -- was the fleecing of a lifetime. It was a trade so good that stealing Garnett from Minnesota to give the C’s a championship merely falls into Ainge’s “best of the rest” category. 

It was also a deal so good that when Ainge held the first overall pick in the draft and word emerged that he was trading it to Philly, C’s fans likely had a lot more in mind than one protected future pick. Maybe something like the 2018 LA first and another first from Philly, perhaps the Kings' 2019 pick -- all of which would be unprotected.  

That might not have ended up on the Brooklyn trade given that the Lakers should be better next season and that the 76ers are going to improve with Fultz in tow. Yet it still would have further loaded up the C’s with really good assets, allowing them to both add top young talent through the draft and trade for established star power. 

That is, after all, what the end game has long been assumed to be with Ainge. Gather, gather, gather, then cash in. Fultz presented an example of cashing in. Instead, he proved to be another opportunity for Ainge to gather more assets.

The frustration over this trade is warranted solely based on the C’s choosing not to add the top-rated player in the draft. There’s also probably frustration over the return, which is fair to an extent. The additional pick the C’s receive being No. 1 protected stinks. It’s worth questioning why the C’s made the trade now for a protected pick rather than sweating out Philly a longer to see if they’d trade the pick without any strings attached. 

Yet that’s really the extent to which you can be overly frustrated. You can be upset that the pick was protected or that there wasn’t another pick to go with it.

The C’s not getting a Nets-like haul isn’t something for which Ainge should be faulted. Then-Brooklyn GM Billy King was historically bad in making that trade. You’re not going to find a team that incompetent every time you make a move. 

In a deal involving high picks, people aren’t used to seeing Ainge’s Celtics as the potential “loser,” unless you want to include deals outside of the top five, like the 2006 trade for Sebastian Telfair. 

When people think “Danny Ainge” and “top pick,” they think of him stealing them from a lesser franchise. They don’t think of him moving a top asset for an underwhelming return. Considering Ainge intimated said the C’s didn’t like Fultz with the first pick, maybe this will prove to be a savvy move. It isn’t a clear-cut ripoff, however, but then again most moves aren’t. Even if you’re Danny Ainge. 

Celtics-Thunder preview: Balancing rest and rhythm

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Celtics-Thunder preview: Balancing rest and rhythm

BOSTON – With the NBA playoffs looming, this is a tricky time of year for most of the league’s playoff-bound teams. 

Both players and coaches want to head into the postseason well-rested. 

But they also want to be in a good playing rhythm.

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Injuries have forced the Boston Celtics to sit some players who are likely to be able to play (and well-rested) when the playoffs. 

And tonight’s foe, the Oklahoma City Thunder, are in a similar situation as well. 

“It's something you're walking a tightrope on all the time, where a guy is really rested but you've taken him out of rhythm,” said Thunder head coach Billy Donovan. “The biggest thing is, there's gotta be communication between the players and the medical staff, coaches, of where guys are, what they need.

Donovan added, “I think rest this time of year would help any player, but there's a balance between maybe getting too much rest and maybe getting out of rhythm. The players are always walking that line during the course of the year, because you kind of get into a rhythm of playing every other day, you get into that, and then there's a back to back here or there, and you get three games in four nights, but yeah. You try to best as you can with your players, help them balance that the best they can.”

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook can see how some players might need to strike a balance between getting enough rest late in the season while maintaining a good playing rhythm.  

So, I asked him which is his preference?

“I prefer to play,” he said. “Rhythm and all that (expletive), it’s in your mind.”

For Westbrook, maybe so. 

But it is very real to a number of players in the NBA, among them being his teammate and fellow All-Star Paul George. 

“If you know why you’re in the gym and the work you’re getting, you lock in,” George said. “You prepare, get your work done. And you get off your legs, get off our feet and get your rest. It’s easy to balance the two when you know what exactly you’re doing and you know exactly what you need to do.”

Boston has worked to strike that balance with Kyrie Irving all season.

That’s why the five-time All-Star is averaging 24.4 points per game which is 11th in the league. However, he’s doing it in 32.2 minutes which ranks 55th in the league in minutes played per game. 

Lately, Irving has gotten more time off than he would like as he deals with a sore left knee that has kept him sidelined for the Celtics’ last three games. 

It doesn’t appear to be something that will limit him now.

However, having him sit out games now increases the likelihood that he’ll be ready to roll at or near full strength, when the playoffs arrive. 

Boston is also playing without Jaylen Brown who suffered a concussion when he fell on his back following a dunk at Houston on March 3. He is expected to return at some point between now and the end of the regular season which could be a blessing in disguise for the 6-foot-7 Brown who will be called upon to not only remain Boston’s next-best scoring option to Kyrie Irving, but also defend at a high level. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that they have given thought to how to find that happy medium between resting guys while ensuring as best they can, that players will be refreshed for the playoffs. 

“We haven’t been in that situation very often, where we choose to do rest except for that stretch in December when we rested Al (Horford),” Stevens said. “But everything else has kind of happened organically with guys being dinged up or whatever the case may be. I think that’s … we’ll probably be in a situation where we will continue to have those discussions.”


Thunder not taking shorthanded Celtics for granted

Thunder not taking shorthanded Celtics for granted

Oklahoma City All-Star Paul George knows the Boston Celtics team he and his Thunder teammates will face tomorrow night, won’t be at full strength.

But he’s wise enough to know if you focus too much on an opponent’s key losses to their roster, that same team can potentially hand you a loss which is the last thing the Thunder need right now in what’s shaping up to be a tightly contested Western Conference playoff race.

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Currently fourth in the standings, only four games separate teams No. 3-8. Only Houston (56-14) and Golden State (53-17) have secured a postseason berth. 

Which means the Celtics won’t catch Oklahoma City sleeping on them heading into tomorrow night’s game. 

“We are going to address it the same way regardless of who's in there,” George said. “We got to pick these games up. We lost the game on our floor earlier this season.”

But that was early in the season when the Thunder were still trying to figure out how its newly formed core of Russell Westbrook, George and Carmelo Anthony, could mesh.

Oklahoma City has gotten stronger as the season progressed, and are one of the hottest teams around with six straight wins, the most recent being a 132-125 victory at Eastern Conference-leading Toronto. 

Meanwhile, Boston (47-23) has lost its last two games and three of four so from a momentum standpoint, the Thunder have every reason to feel as though they’ll emerge victorious tomorrow night. 

And they also have added motivation from their Nov. 3 matchup with the Celtics in Oklahoma City that ended with a 101-94 win for Boston. 

Westbrook had 19 points and 11 assists in that game but shot 7-for-20 from the field. Carmelo Anthony had 14 points but did so on a woeful 3-for-17 shooting. And then there was George’s 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. 

“We have to show who we are,” George said.

Who they are, is a team that’s fighting for home court in at least the first round of the playoffs where they are currently fourth in the West. 

And their success in the last six games has been fueled by strong play at both ends of the floor. 


In that stretch, Oklahoma City is averaging 116.2 points which ranks second in the NBA during that span. Defensively, they are allowing 104.5 points which is the 10th-fewest allowed in the last six games.

“Just making the right plays, offensively and defensively” is how Westbrook described the team’s recent run of success. 

And the Thunder have every intention of keeping it going against a beat-up Celtics squad that they know they can’t take lightly. 

“Again, we are playing really well,” George said. “A step back if we lose no matter who's in or who's out would hurt us.”