The Brooklyn Nets Learn From Their Mistake and Pull Off a Boston Celtics-Like Deal Involving Kevin Durant
Remember when the Brooklyn Nets surrendered a boatload of draft picks to acquire Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celtics in 2013? They just recouped them all.
The Nets were on the receiving end of multiple first-round selections and traded an aging superstar late Wednesday night in a deal that brought back memories (nightmares?) of that deal with the Celtics nearly 10 years ago. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kevin Durant is headed to the Phoenix Suns as the Nets look toward their future.
The Brooklyn Nets pull off blockbuster deal involving Kevin Durant
On the heels of this week’s trade of disgruntled point guard Kyrie Irving, the Nets parted ways with their second superstar. It’s far from a total rebuild in Brooklyn, as the Nets acquired forwards Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and Jae Crowder to go along with four unprotected first-round draft picks (2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029). The Nets can also swap picks with the Suns in 2028. The Suns received Durant and T.J. Warren.
It’s a heck of a move for the Nets, who get a fresh start after a disastrous experiment with Irving and Durant. The talented Irving was a distraction, while Durant struggled to remain healthy. Durant, 34, still has some gas in the tank, but he’s reaching that level of where Pierce and Garnett were when the Celtics sent them to the Nets.
For Phoenix, it’s win now. A healthy Durant makes them a serious contender in the Western Conference. Durant teams with Devin Booker and Chris Paul to give the Suns a talented trio with experience that they hope can improve on a disappointing 30-26 record as the All-Star break approaches.
The Nets have learned from their mistake
The Celtics taught the Nets a lesson, and Brooklyn learned from it. Back in June 2013, the Celtics had a difficult decision to make. They were in no-man’s land, finishing with 41 wins and getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs. They also just lost a third of their Big Three when Ray Allen bolted to join the Miami Heat via free agency.
Danny Ainge, then Boston’s president of basketball operations, made the move to trade Pierce and Garnett as part of a blockbuster deal. In addition to the two stars, the Celtics sent Jason Terry and D.J. White to Brooklyn. Boston received Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans, along with first-round picks in 2014, 2016, and 2018. They had the right to swap picks with the Nets in 2017.
The players the Celtics received were more to match salaries, having little on-court impact on the deal. Boston lived off those first-round picks and still are reaping the benefits. The Celtics took a hit in their first year without Pierce and Garnett, finishing 25-57 in Brad Stevens’ first year as head coach.
They returned to the playoffs the next year, with the help of another deal that brought in Isaiah Thomas. While the Celtics were trending upward, the Nets crumbled. They finished with a 21-61 record in the 2015-16 season, and the Celtics capitalized by taking Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. In 2017, Boston held the first pick and traded it to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 and a future first-rounder. With that third pick, they selected Jayson Tatum.
Wednesday’s deal involving Durant puts the Nets in a similar position they put the Celtics in. They’re actually better situated, with four first-round picks and a player like Bridges, who’s putting up better than 17 points per game.