On Kevin Garnett and green blood

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On Kevin Garnett and green blood

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.

Or, we could ignore the noise and start enjoying right now.
Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Highlights: Atlanta Hawks 114, Boston Celtics 98

Highlights: Atlanta Hawks 114, Boston Celtics 98

Tempers flared between the Celtics and Hawks, but Atlanta was able to get the best of Boston as they get the victory in the TD Garden.

Blakely: On surface Bogut makes sense for Celtics, but it comes down to chemistry

Blakely: On surface Bogut makes sense for Celtics, but it comes down to chemistry

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics got their butts kicked (again) on the boards Monday night by the Atlanta Hawks who defeated them 114-98.

The Celtics get their butts kicked most nights on the boards, and yet still find a way to win more often than not.

That’s why the possibility of adding Andrew Bogut who was bought out by Philadelphia is so intriguing.

Once he clears waivers on Wednesday, he’ll officially be a man in high demand with teams trying to show him love as if he was Kevin Durant or LeBron James.

But as much as the 31-year-old center on paper seems like a good addition to the Celtics roster because of his rebounding prowess and rim protection on defense, here’s what you have to keep in mind with Bogut or any other player Danny Ainge and the C's front-office brass decides to bring through that door.

Whatever team a new guy joins, he’ll look to play decent minutes and showcase his skills with unrestricted free agency around the corner this summer.

As far as Bogut is concerned, he's one of the more underrated members of Golden State's title squad in 2016.

Draymond Green's all-around game, Steph Curry’s 3-point bombs and Klay Thompson’s two-way talent were all key to the Warriors winning a title two years ago. But lost in their success among fans was Bogut’s defense which covered up for a lot of mistakes, miscues and blown assignments.

Whatever team Bogut signs with, ideally he would be looking to provide that same interior presence.

But here’s another issue.

Adding Bogut means waiving a player, most likely a young player that the Celtics will have essentially decided to give up on.

Since Bogut is a big, the logical target of being waived is Jordan Mickey.

The second-round pick from 2015 has shown improvement, but not nearly enough to garner steady minutes or even sporadic time on this roster.

Amir Johnson and Al Horford are the starters, with Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko rounding out their four-man big rotation so they're not going anywhere.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens typically plays those four bigs every night, so the idea of adding a fifth to the regular rotation doesn’t make sense.

Will one of those four be cool with not playing some nights or having their minutes severely carved up?

Would Bogut be cool with sometimes playing in games, or sometimes playing the role of waving a towel supporting his team from the bench?

And how does his presence affect chemistry which is a major deal for this team and its success this season.

Boston’s bigs in terms of rebounding, have not been good all season.

We can all agree on that.

And yet despite those struggles, they have the second-best record in the East (38-22) along with being a top-5 or top-6 team record-wise in the NBA.

They’re able to win because they have solid talent and Teflon-strong bonds to where they don't just play with each other, but for each other every night. 

We have seen stretches this season when the minutes have been cut or wiped out altogether for rotation players like Terry Rozier, Jonas Jerebko and Jaylen Brown.

And yet during the time when they are not playing as much, you never hear any public grumbling or private bickering among themselves or to the media.

There is a high level of accountability with Brad Stevens-coached teams that if you’re doing your job well, you’ll play. If not, your minutes might go to a teammate.

The best example of this came earlier this season when Gerald Green was essentially a practice player until Christmas Day when he came up big in Boston’s win over the New York Knicks.

Green saw more minutes going forward, but soon found himself struggling to get on the floor afterwards on some nights and the man whose minutes he took – Rozier – was back in the playing mix. 

During those times when Rozier wasn't playing, he said Green was a fixture in his ear, offering words of encouragement regardless of whether he was playing a lot or not at all. 

“Gerald’s always encouraging me, encouraging the young guys to just keep working, be patient and when your time comes, run with it,” Rozier recently told CSNNE.com. “He’s been a great vet for us young guys.”

And while Bogut wouldn’t come in looking to mess with the team’s chemistry, that doesn’t matter.

Anytime a new guy is added to the mix, it has the potential to be a really good pick-up or a potentially catastrophic equation of subtraction by addition.

In talking with a league executive who Bogut played for earlier in his career, he said Bogut would be a good addition to the Celtics roster from a basketball standpoint.

“But you never know about how they fit outside of that,” the executive told CSNNE.com. “As we’ve seen, sometimes it’s just as important that guys click off the court as it is that they can play together on it. I don’t think that would be an issue, but with new guys and not knowing how that locker room works and its dynamics, you just never really know how it’ll play out.

The executive added, “But if they can get him after the Philly buyout, do it. He can help them. His strength is their weakness; it makes a lot of sense for both sides honestly.”