The trade thermometer is heating up in Boston. Its needle rested principally on Paul Pierce but has recently shifted onto his fellow star teammate Kevin Garnett. KG seemed untouchable mostly due to a no-trade clause in his also well-padded contract. But rumors take on a whole new life when they’re given time to simmer, especially if it’s in NBA.com’s skillet.
2013 has already proven its worth as an off-kilter trade market after news broke that Rudy Gay was setting up camp with the Toronto Raptors. The rest of it might gear up to be no less unusual.
Basketball enthusiasts understood that it was going to take a master negotiator to keep Garnett and Pierce in Boston for the remainder of their careers, given Rondo’s sudden exit. But the last week, Pierce, who has been playing out of his age group lately, was slated to be the one switching jerseys. That’s until multiple sources confirmed that the Clippers had their crosshairs aimed on KG.
The Los Angeles Clippers remain one of a handful of teams that still have a clear chance at making the Finals, but have hit a few hurdles along the way. A knee injury to Chris Paul has been the clearest detriment of late considering that they went from being a team that won 17 straight, to one that has lost five of its last seven.
The Clippers need a little fine-tuning, and the Celtics are inarguably in a position to pursue rebuilding―more so now that Jared Sullinger has been lost to back surgery―but the trade remains on the periphery of reality.
First, there’s the off-chance that Kevin Garnett will want to leave Boston for L.A., since his no-trade clause guarantees he ends up only where his heart agrees.
Second, the Clippers are not a team working with much payroll wiggle room. If they were to trade Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe for Garnett, as it’s rumored, they would only further extend themselves over the luxury tax threshold. A move for Garnett, might mean a move of other role players, and their salaries, as well.
Finally, the move sounds more like a desperation ploy for the Clippers than anything else. When looking at their power forward position, they have Blake Griffin and Lamar Odom at the helm. Kevin, it’s weird calling KG by his first name, could be used in a similar capacity as in Boston, at the “5” position, but would it be as a starter? DeAndre Jordan isn’t as pathologically intense as Garnett is known to be, or isn’t tagged as being a defense-first specialist, but the Clippers aren’t exactly lagging defensively as they are ranked fifth with a DefRtg of 99.2. Factoring Jordan out of the Clippers scheme would also hurt their brand as “Lob City.” And no one wants that.
Garnett could be a better reserve at “center’ than Ronny Turiaf, but given his pedigree and salary, he’s doubtful to come off the bench.
Boston stands to benefit more from a potential trade, but only slightly. Eric Bledsoe is a young talent that can really pay off in Boston’s system, and offers a substantial replacement for Rondo, but ultimately serves as a seesaw tradeoff. Where Boston would improve in the point guard category they would suffer at its center position since they only have Jason Collins and Fab Melo to take up KG’s void.
That’s not to say this trade doesn’t happen. Like the Rudy Gary swap, this might be a curveball no NBA fan was expecting.