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.