WALTHAM — The way Danny Ainge looks at it, trading away future hall of famers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett along came down to taking advantage of a team desperate to build its own “Dream Team.”
That’s why, according to the Celtics president of basketball operations, he pulled the trigger earlier this month on a deal that sends the two stars to Brooklyn for Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and Kris Humphries.
“Brooklyn showed a great deal of interest in putting the ‘Dream Team’ together, with expense not [a factor], at any cost it seemed like,” Ainge told reporters at an introductory press conference Monday. “And the opportunity to acquire a lot of young assets and get younger and move onto a different phase presented itself. We felt like, where we were as a team, it was going to be very difficult to be a championship contender [had] we kept Paul and KG.
“The opportunity presented itself. It’s a situation we needed to do. It’s a situation that Brooklyn should do and could do, adding Paul and KG to a roster with already three All-Star type players. It’s a pretty special opportunity for them, even though it’s very expensive.”
Jason Terry was also unloaded in the deal that reshapes the Celtics roster for years to come. Was there another team that challenged the Nets in acquiring the trio?
“You don’t really want to trade to a division rival but no, there were no other teams that were even close,” Ainge admitted. “As a matter of fact, it was interesting that the offers we got for Paul and KG were greater than we got for them in years past. It was an opportunity we felt we had to jump at.”
Was it hard for Ainge to pull the trigger in the end?
“Absolutely,” Ainge said when asked. “I think it pretty much goes without saying, and there’ll be many opportunities to talk about their legacies, and I know this is not my decision alone to make, but if it were my decision alone, their numbers will be hanging from the rafters some day. Their legacy has been made here in Boston. They still have basketball left in them but at the same time, we’re going to want to beat them. But those guys were great for the city of Boston, great for the Boston Celtics franchise and great for all of us who were associated with them.
“But this is a good deal for us. We’re excited about the players we’re getting and we’re excited about the opportunity for us to start fresh and start over, not completely over because we have a lot of good players returning and a lot of good players acquired in teh trade but start over in terms of a new coaching staff, new players and a new identity.”
A fifth player the Celtics received in the deal – Kris Joseph – was waived on Monday.