Column on trade of Kevin Garnett to Celtics
You knew Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge was going to have to mortgage the farm in order to bring in a Hall of Fame talent such as Kevin Garnett. As it turns out, it appears he had to throw in a lot of the livestock, feed and a few of the family pets as well. But the two prized possessions he kept -- Paul Pierce and Ray Allen -- combined with the 10-time All-Star Garnett may well give him the foundation to replace that lovable, yet struggling, farm with a palatial estate within a matter of months. It's a gamble that Ainge and Celtics ownership are apparently willing to take as they close in on the most significant move in recent franchise history -- and the one that should ultimately define their collective tenure in Boston. Ainge has said throughout his extended rebuilding process that he was stockpiling pieces that would allow him to surround Pierce with the talent necessary to contend for a championship. He sent a few of those pieces -- Delonte West and the fifth overall pick (Jeff Green) -- to Seattle on draft night, along with oft-injured Wally Szczerbiak, for Allen. That was probably enough to get the Celtics back into the playoffs and in position to challenge for the Atlantic Division title. But while he said on draft night that collection had "no excuses," he likely knew he would need more for this team to be playing well into June. He could have gone the conservative route and signed a marginal center and backup point guard for the veteran minimum. Or he could have gone for it all with the biggest, most glamorous and most expensive prize available. Once he decided to aim for the stars, there was likely no turning back. As word filtered out yesterday that more and more pieces were a part of Ainge's bid, you couldn't help but shake a bit at the scale you pictured in your mind. On one side was Garnett, and on the other was Al Jefferson, and Gerald Green, and Theo Ratliff (aka The Expiring Contract), and Sebastian Telfiar (OK, you weren't so broken up about that one). Then came the first-round draft picks -- two of them -- and then the probability of much-beloved local guy Ryan Gomes. You knew Garnett would cost a lot, and you knew he was worth a lot, but a seven-for-one deal? That sure is a lot of cabbage for one guy. By then, though, you knew you were on the hook and you knew Ainge and the Celtics were as well. They may have been able to keep Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins out of the deal, but you weren't going to let the chance to put three of the top 25 players in the NBA together slip away because of a likable role player in Gomes or a ball of potential in Green. If you make this deal, nobody is talking about the longterm anymore anyway. No, by this point you couldn't resist lunging after the golden carrot. The argument against trading Jefferson in a package for Garnett prior to the draft was that you weren't sure how far the Pierce-Garnett combination would really take you. The second round of the playoffs, maybe? Perhaps the Eastern Conference Finals if you drew the same path that the Cavaliers skipped through this spring? But a Pierce-Garnett-Allen triumvirate is entirely different. You have three 20-point scorers, 22 All-Star games between them. Having Allen, coming off his best scoring season at 26.4 points per game, as your third scoring option is a numbing thought for those who've dutifully watched this team win 57 games over the past two years combined. It is a monster package to give up. But if you are not going to give it up for Garnett, then for whom are you saving it? If you are not going to do it now, then what are you waiting for? The chance to get a player like Garnett may come around once in a decade, or longer. Passing on that chance could cause regret for years to come. So when that chance arrives, you -- like Ainge and the Celtics -- close your eyes, hold your breath and jump. For all its faults, it was an endearing little farm you watched over the past couple of years. But building that mansion was always why you were in the market in the first place. Scott Souza is a Daily News staff writer. He can be reached at 781-398-8006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.