Monday morning, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers renewed trade talks, per ESPN reports, that centered on Kevin Garnett and Head Coach Doc Rivers going to Los Angeles. Heading to Boston would be center DeAndre Jordan, forward Caron Butler, one or more future first-round picks as well as forward Willie Green. Also rumored in the deal are Eric Bledsoe, who the Clippers are reluctant to give up, as well as Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, who Boston prefers to move to free up cap space in the event that the Clippers are unwilling to move Bledsoe.
The trade for the Celtics makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons. One being that they can give Rivers what he wants – to coach a contender – and also bring Garnett along with him, whose close relationship with Rivers is no secret. The Celtics also would rid themselves of what’s remaining on Garnett’s three year, $36 million deal as well as the big contracts of Lee or Terry. That not only clears cap space, but aids them in the rebuilding process so that Danny Ainge doesn’t have to start over at square one. They would also be in a position to move Paul Pierce and obtain Atlanta Hawk forward and current Celtic Rajon Rondo’s high school teammate Josh Smith.
For the Clippers though, the reasoning is more complicated to some. Yes, they would get one of the NBA’s best coaches in Rivers, and one of the NBA‘s all-time greats in Garnett, but they would also be sacrificing youth and potential – especially if Bledsoe leaves – for a two-year rental in Garnett in hopes of contending for and winning a title.
But perhaps overlooked in the potential deal is not just the impact that Garnett would have on the floor, a still solid defensive presence as well as providing a defensive anchor, but his off the floor impact as well – particular with regards to Blake Griffin, if indeed Griffin stays with the Clippers and is not dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers like some reports have suggested.
Griffin has been much maligned in his career for being too much of a highlight reel and not enough of a low post and offensive threat. Kevin Garnett is one of the best low post scorers in league history, and he would have a profound impact on Griffin’s offensive game, as well as passing on knowledge that would benefit the Clippers’ young star.
Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has always said that being around guys like Moses Malone, Julius Erving and Maurice Cheeks in his younger days with the Philadelphia 76ers was huge for his growing and maturing as a player, both on the court and off.
The Big Ticket could have the same impact on Griffin.
So while on the surface is looks like not the greatest move long term for the Clippers, it could pay huge dividends for their centerpiece down the road.
In that sense, a two-year rental could turn into house money.