I know, I know, it is almost football time in America and I am as excited for its kickoff as anyone, but I could not help noticing the Boston Celtics becoming relevant again by trading with the moribund Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett. The NBA's flagship franchise has languished in mediocrity for nearly two decades, but Danny Ainge has (accidentally???) put together an instant contender in the NBA's Eastern Conference (which is slightly better than the D-League at this time).
Ironically, Kevin Garnett fills a role of the low block presence that has been missing in Beantown since Kevin McHale up-and-undered his way to a Hall of Fame career in Boston. What makes this creepy is that McHale is the General Manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and pulled the trigger on this trade with his former team and teammate. This has even allowed one notable national sportswriter, who happens to be a lifelong Celtics fan, to quip that Kevin McHale's greatest play as a Celtics may have been this trade, fourteen years after his retirement.
When you look at what Boston has done since the punch-in-the-stomach they got when they lost out on the Oden-Durant lottery, you have to give the maligned Ainge some credit here. He goes out and gets Ray Allen in a "what are you doing, he's thirty-something" deal with Seattle, in exchange for a first round pick that turned into Jeff Green. The Ainge-haters were out in force wondering how an aging star like Jesus Shuttlesworth...errr...Ray Allen could help a team with Al Jefferson and a bunch of youngsters accomplish much. But Ainge kept the channels of dialogue open with McHale and he finally got his centerpiece to win now in the form of Garnett.
Doc Rivers now gets to send out a lineup that will include three primo scorers in Allen, Garnett, and Paul Pierce. Considering that it seems that most Eastern Conference teams struggle to score more than 80 points, if these guys average their career averages this season, they'll be close to that point total............by themselves. If this team gets steady point guard play from Rajon Rondo and some help in the post from Kendrick Perkins and Glen "Big Baby" Davis, this is a team that can compete this year in the Eastern Conference.
Age and injury are the concern here as Allen has had some lower leg issues and Pierce missed chunks of last season battling ailments. Add that to the fact that all three will be over 30 at the opening of this season, and it becomes clear that this is a NOW move. But, when you have floundered as long as Boston has, they had to do something. And this something could lead them back towards the NBA crown.
This would be great for basketball, as every great moment in NBA history has seemed to include the Celtics, Knicks, Lakers, Sixers, or the Bulls on a more recent level. Boston and New York have struggled for years now. Philly is in full rebuilding mode after the Allen Iverson trade. Kobe Bryant is probably about to check out of the Hotel California. And Chicago gives the appearance of a good, young team that needs to make a move themselves to get over the hump. This league needs one of these standard bearer franchises to ascend to the top of their league, and Boston looks primed to do so again.
After the Tim Donaghy fiasco and some shoddy officiating in the playoffs as a whole, the NBA needs to be rescued, much like it did when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird did in the late 1970's to early 1980's. Maybe Kevin Garnett and Company can restore the Luck of the Leprechaun in the Fleet Center.