Yesterday at Celtics practice, Kevin Garnett was asked about the possibility of being traded, and in the time since, his answer has been blogged and tweeted and retweeted so many times that you probably have it memorized. But just in case . . .
"I bleed green; I die green, that's what it is," Garnett said. "But it is a business. If it crosses the path, I'll deal with it. But trades are a part of this league. Every year, you're going to hear things."
Yup. Especially this time of year. Especially in Boston. Especially in an era where literally anyone can make up anything and have it land on the NBA rumor mill. (For instance, I heard the Nuggets told Danny Ainge that he can have his choice of either Kenneth Faried or Javale McGee in exchange for KG. Just kidding. I didn't hear that. But it's on the Internet now, so don't be surprised if it's being discussed on SportsCenter later on tonight.)
But while trade rumors are nothing new to an 18-year veteran, this season is slightly different in that it's the first time that Kevin Garnett will hear things about Kevin Garnett. Think about it: Since landing in Boston, KG's the only Celtic who's been completely immune to the whispers. Rondo and Ray were in it from Day 1. Pierce got his first real taste last winter. Through it all, you've never heard KG's name. And neither has he. Sure, he's been asked to address the idea of players being traded. Yesterday wasn't the first time we've heard him throw out the old "it's a business" cliche. But it was always about someone else. And even for a guy as selfless as Garnett, it's a whole lot easier to say "this is a business" when you're not the chip in danger of being moved.
A no-trade clause helps, too. And there's no question that with every rumor that pops up between now and February 21, KG will find comfort in the fact that he's not going to end up anywhere he doesn't want to be. That he has 100 percent control over his own destiny, and doesn't have to worry about going to bed one night as a Celtic and waking up as a Buck or a Raptor or the starting center for the Sacreattle SuperKings. But at the same time, we've all been around Garnett long enough to know that even with all his anti-trade security, the principle still matters.
"Danny made it obvious . . . that he was going to do what's best for this organization," KG added during Tuesday's media session. "He's always made it apparent, so I've always understood that."
So what does it mean that Garnett now finds himself answering questions about his own future?
Are there people who really think that the Celtics are better off without him? That "what's best for this organization" is to send Kevin Garnett to the Clippers for a 33-year-old backup small forward and a promising but still-unproven point guard?
Yes and yes. That's exactly what it means. At least that's the perception. And I'm sorry, but there's no way it just rolls off Garnett's back like his nightly 5,000 gallons of sweat. Even if rumors and trades are just part of the business, they're the part that KG despises more than he does just about anything else including disrespectful youngsters, soft internationals and Wally Szczerbiak. Hearing his name thrown around is Garnett's worst nightmare. It goes against so much of who he is, how he plays and what he stands for.
And that's why he has a no-trade clause. I think he and we all assumed that by incorporating that into his latest deal, KG would play out the rest of his career without ever having to face these questions or consider anything beyond giving every remaining ounce of basketball life to the Boston Celtics.
"I bleed green; I die green, that's what it is."
A lot of players might try to say something like this, but it's never more sincere than when it comes from KG. I don't want to sound like his personal ball-washing service here, but it's true. For all the criticism he receives for being a bully or a fake tough guy or too old to bring his 'A' game every single night, there's not an athlete in sports who values and respects the name on the front of his jersey more than Garnett does with the Celtics. While no one will ever forget about his time in Minnesota, Boston is his legacy now. And it's too bad that we have to waste even a portion of what could very well be the last few months of KG's career stirring the pot and speculating over all the different ways that Danny Ainge can give him away. Especially when the chances are so unbelievably slim to begin with and the rumors that we're hearing make so little sense.
Honestly, Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe?
The Celtics are better with Butler and Bledsoe instead of Kevin Garnett?
And do you ever think about the fact that the only big trade that Ainge has actually executed since Garnett's arrival is one that we heard NOTHING about beforehand? Not even a whisper. Not that the Celtics were talking to the Thunder. Not that Kendrick Perkins was on the block. That's how these things work.
And in this case, I'll be shocked if things work out in a way where KG ends up finishing the season in a different NBA uniform. Is it possible? Of course. But you know what? It's also possible that KG tears up his knee tonight in Toronto. It's also possible that he gets hit by a car while crossing the street in front of the team hotel.
There's a ton of stuff that might happen, but it's not remotely as real or important as what's actually happening out on the court where, at least for now, KG and Pierce are back in charge and have the Celtics playing some of their best basketball of the year.
After two days off, the Big 2 and company are back at it tonight in Toronto against the new-look Raptors. After the game, they'll fly right back to Boston to host Kobe and the Lakers. On Sunday, they host Denver. On Monday, they're in Charlotte. On Wednesday (February 13), they host the Bulls and then between the All-Star Break and five-game West Coast road trip the Celtics won't play another home game until March 1 against the Golden State Warriors.
At that point, rumor season will have passed, and whatever's done will be done. Maybe Kevin Garnett will be playing out West. Maybe Paul Pierce will be out there, too. Maybe the Celtics will have re-signed Justin Reed, Derek Strong and Milt Palacio and we won't know what the hell is going on.
But I'd say it's far more likely the core you see now, is the one that will take the court against Golden State, at which point we'll have no choice but to settle in and enjoy what might be the last run for two great Celtics two legendary NBA players.