Boston Celtics

On 10th anniversary of Garnett trade, C's maintain championship mindset

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On 10th anniversary of Garnett trade, C's maintain championship mindset

BOSTON – This upcoming season for the Boston Celtics will be one of a celebratory nature, regardless of how Brad Stevens’ squad performs.

It will mark the 10th anniversary of the franchise’s 17th NBA title.

And while that in itself is reason to celebrate, the good vibes and success generated by that team would have never come about if not for what happened 10 years ago today.

It was on July 31, 2007 that the Celtics pulled off the blockbuster of all blockbusters at the time, acquiring Kevin Garnett from Minnesota.

The addition of Garnett, who would later go on to become a league MVP as well as the driving force behind Boston’s 2008 NBA title run, proved to be the ultimate game-changer for this franchise.

And having acquired Ray Allen on draft night of that year to team up with still-in-his-prime Paul Pierce, formed a Big Three in Boston that won a title in its first year together and remained one of the top teams in the East for years to come.

But what’s often overlooked in that team was the commitment on the part of Boston’s front office to not just talk about winning a title, but literally put their money where their mouth was at that time.

Bringing Garnett aboard meant signing him to an extension. Couple that with Ray Allen and Pierce’s contracts, and it was clear that the Celtics weren’t afraid to journey into the world of being a luxury-tax payer, for a team that they felt – and most of the NBA agreed – was a title contender. 

Fast forward 10 years and the Celtics on many levels are in a similar spot.

Isaiah Thomas has been an all-star each of the last two seasons for the Celtics. Last summer they signed Al Horford via free agency to a four-year, $113 million contract. And earlier this month, they inked Gordon Hayward to a max contract over four years that’s worth 127.8 million. 

While the 2007 Big Three is considered the better threesome, it’s clear that the Celtics’ mindset now isn’t all that different from what it was back then – compete for a championship.

Boston’s chances this season on paper at least appear to be better than they were a year ago.

While Golden State is easily at the top of the NBA food chain, the Celtics have made inroads with the addition of Hayward and the turmoil that seems to be engulfing the cream of the East, Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavs couldn’t come to terms with then-GM David Griffin on a new deal, and parted ways just before the NBA draft in June.

Cleveland added Derrick Rose via free agency, but his history with injuries is more than enough reason for Cavs to be cautiously optimistic about his chances of being a significant contributor over the course of the season.

And then there’s Kyrie Irving demanding a trade which, if it came to pass, would certainly weaken a Cleveland team that still has LeBron James around for another year, at least. He can hit the free agent market in the summer of 2018 and while he has not indicated what his plans are far down the road, most league executives anticipate James will join the Los Angeles Lakers.

Those are issues that the Celtics don’t have to deal with, and yet Boston has to keep abreast in part because of its potential impact on their chances at success this season.

And if Boston is able to take that next step from last season when they advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, it will be similar to the KG trade from 10 years ago as far as being yet another accomplishment by this franchise that’s worth celebrating.

30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

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30 teams in 30 days: Another struggle in New Orleans for Boogie and The Brow

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The New Orleans Pelicans. 

Anthony Davis has waited patiently for the New Orleans Pelicans to assemble a cast around him that could be competitive in the West.
 
Still waiting...
 
The Pelicans have more big-name players on their roster this season, but those players, by and large, are well past their primes. And that will likely result in yet another playoff-less season.

 
New Orleans’ best hopes of bucking the odds and become a competitive, playoff-caliber team will hinge on how a couple of former Celtics perform.
 
Tony Allen and Rajon Rondo, both members of Boston’s 2008 championship team, will be looked upon to provide solid play as well as veteran leadership.
 
Rondo, now 31, a four-time All-Star, was in and out of the Chicago Bulls lineup last season before emerging in the playoffs with a pair of strong performances against the Celtics, which put Boston in a 2-0 series hole despite the first two games being at the TD Garden.
 
However, the point guard broke his right hand in Game 2 and was unable to return, which proved to be a major turning point as Boston went on to win the series in six games.
 
In Allen, the Pelicans add one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. And while he is 35, he doesn’t come with the kind of wear and tear you typically associate with a player his age.
 
That’s because Allen has not ever been a player to log major minutes. This past season in Memphis, Allen averaged a career-high 27.0 minutes per game.
 
Despite playing limited minutes, it still didn’t keep him from being recognized for his defense, which has led to him being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first or second team, six times (first team in 2012, 2013 and 2015; and second team in 2011, 2016 and 2017).
 
Those veterans will be important, but the key to making this work for New Orleans lies in how well Davis and DeMarcus Cousins mesh.
 
Acquired just before the trade deadline in February, the Pelicans were just 7-10 with Cousins in the lineup and 4-4 when he did not play.
 
However, that came on the fly, which is why there’s optimism in New Orleans that Davis and Cousins will work together even better with a training camp under their belts.
 
Ultimately, the Pelicans have to field a team that can be competitive, if for no other reason than to appease Davis.

While Davis has shown no signs of wanting to play elsewhere, you have to wonder just how much patience will he have with a New Orleans team that has made just one playoff appearance in his five NBA seasons.
 
Of the other 13 lottery picks from his draft, only one (Kendall Marshall) has made fewer playoff appearances.
 
Anything short of a playoff appearance will only lead to more questions about Davis being traded.
 
"I understand it's a business, but if I don't hear anything from Dell [Demps, the Pelicans general manager] or my agent, I don't pay attention to it," Davis told reporters this summer, regarding the rumors about being traded to Boston. "Once I first heard [the rumors], then I heard it again, then I heard it again, I just wanted to make sure. I found out it wasn't [true], and that was the beginning of the summer, so I haven't paid attention to it since."
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Tony Allen (Memphis); Rajon Rondo (Chicago); Ian Clark (Golden State).
 
Key losses: Tyreke Evans (Sacramento); Tim Frazier (Washington); Terrence Jones (Qingdao Doublestar of Chinese Basketball Association); Langston Galloway (Detroit);
 
Rookies of note:
 None.
 
Expectations:
31-51 (fifth in the Southwest Division, 14th in the West).