Nets officially get Garnett, Pierce
The Brooklyn Nets officially acquired future Hall of Fame forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and reserve guard Jason Terry in a blockbuster trade with the Boston Celtics, the teams announced Friday.
"Honestly, did I think we could pull something like this off? No," Nets general manager Billy King said during a Friday conference call. "... But (Celtics GM) Danny (Ainge) and I just kept working at it and got to the point where we both were comfortable."
The trio will be introduced by the Nets during a news conference Thursday at Barclays Center.
"Today, the basketball gods smiled on the Nets," team owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement. "With the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, we have achieved a great balance on our roster between veteran stars and young talents. This team will be dazzling to watch and tough to compete against."
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Garnett is 37 years old, while Pierce is 35. Critics wonder if both players will be able to stay healthy and productive throughout the course of a long season at their advanced ages.
"I hope people keep questioning KG and Paul Pierce's age, because I know that the type of warriors they are," King said. "The workload will not be as much as it's been in the past because of their teammates but I enjoy the fact that people keep questioning Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. i know that they'll come out and prove them wrong, so I'm not concerned about that at all."
The Celtics will receive Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries [expiring contract], Keith Bogans [via sign-and-trade], Kris Joseph and first-round draft picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018. The Celtics also have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in 2017.
"I think it started initially just focusing on Paul Pierce," King said during a radio interview on WFAN. "And then in talking to Boston about Paul Pierce, I think we got to the point where we were comfortable with the deal and then I said, 'Well how can I get Garnett as well?' And then we just kept talking and kept talking and were able to figure out a way to make it work."
The deal was agreed to in principle on draft night but could not become official until Friday -- two days after the NBA moratorium on transactions was lifted -- because Joseph couldn't be traded until three months had elapsed from the day he signed with the Nets as a free agent.
"We would like to thank Paul, Kevin and Jason for everything that they have done for this franchise. We would not have won Banner 17 without Paul and Kevin, and they will go down amongst the all-time great players to have ever worn a Celtics uniform," Ainge said in a release. "At the same time, we are excited to welcome Gerald, Kris, Keith, MarShon and Kris to the Celtics family. They bring a wealth of talent, experience, depth and flexibility to our team."
Garnett had to waive his no-trade clause for the deal to be consummated. King said that was the biggest obstacle, but he was able to sell Garnett on the vision that the Nets were trying to pursue a championship and they wanted him to be part of it.
"The one thing about Kevin is when he commits himself like he did to Boston for all those years and their fans, it was tough for him to say goodbye, and that was the part that we had to overcome," King said.
King gave credit to newly hired coach Jason Kidd and point guard Deron Williams for calling Garnett and recruiting him after the deal was agreed upon in principle.
King said the Nets leaned on Kidd heavily during the process because Kidd was teammates with Garnett on Olympic teams and they had a strong relationship.
The Nets could sport a starting five of Williams, Joe Johnson, Pierce, Garnett and Brook Lopez -- who have a total of 35 All-Star appearances among them -- while bringing Shaun Livingston, Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche off the bench, giving them a formidable 10-man rotation.
King didn't want to make any predictions on how the team will fare this season.
"I think we're a playoff team. Do I think we're better than the team we had last season? Yes. But we've still got to play the games," King said, adding that the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat are still the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
"They're the team to beat, and you try to put a basketball team together that can dethrone the champs."
King thinks the team's biggest weakness heading into the season will be trying to jell because many of the players haven't played together, but believes his players are both unselfish and have high basketball IQs, which will allow them to develop chemistry quickly.
King called Kidd, despite his lack of experience, "almost an ideal fit for this group" because Kidd understands what it's like to be on the back end of his playing career, and he'll know how to manage Garnett's and Pierce's minutes.
Kidd embraced the challenge of trying to knock off the Heat.
"They're the blueprint, they're the champs, they won it twice in a row, [and] they could have won it three times in a row," Kidd said Friday from Orlando, Fla., where he's coaching the Nets' summer league team. "They put that team together to try to win championships, and they've had a lot of success. So if you want to compete with them, you've got to have the horses. And I think we have that."
King thinks Garnett and Pierce have "2-3 years left" because they won't have to carry the load for the Nets, though he was sure not to shortchange them.
King said getting Garnett and Pierce wasn't initially a priority -- getting a new coach was first -- "and then once I saw that maybe Boston may break up [its team], then it became a priority."
Garnett, who wore No. 5 in Boston, will wear jersey No. 2 for the Nets. Pierce will wear No. 34, and Terry will wear No. 31.
Brooklyn also received forward D.J. White from Boston.
The Nets have until Aug. 1 to keep, trade or waive White, who has a nonguaranteed deal. If they keep him, his contract counts as an additional $4 million in luxury taxes.
A league source told ESPNNewYork.com that, following the trade, the Nets' payroll is around $101 million and their projected luxury-tax bill is around $83 million.
Throughout the offseason, Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, has allowed King to spend whatever is necessary to improve the roster.
"For a long time, Nets fans have really been looking for something like this," King said. "I'd rather have an owner that has high expectations and wants to win a championship, because he'll do everything it takes to get it. I'd much rather be in this situation than the one we were in three years ago."
King said the Nets were reluctant to part with so many draft picks.
"Yeah, we had a lot of pause. We had a lot of hesitation," he said.
King eventually went ahead with the trade because he feels the Nets will be able to re-tool once Pierce and Garnett leave and still can be a playoff team going forward.
Many questioned the Nets' flexibility to improve their roster. Not King.
"I always said we had the ability to make moves. I always felt we had some assets with our picks," he said.
The Nets made the Kirilenko signing official on Friday, a day after re-signing Blatche and signing Livingston. The Nets will use their taxpayer mini mid-level exception on the Russian forward, who inked a two-year contract with a player option for the second year, a source said. Kirilenko will make $3.1 million in the first year of the deal.
"It gives me great pleasure to welcome Andrei to the Nets," Prokhorov said. "He is a true talent with tremendous versatility. As a fellow countryman, I am especially proud that the best Russian player in the history of the NBA will be wearing a Nets jersey."
ESPN.com's Michael Wallace contributed to this report.