You heard it here first.
Tell me what doesn’t make sense about this trade. With Rajon Rondo out for the season with a torn ACL, the Celts are done this year. Maybe they’ll make the playoffs, but it’s time to turn the page. The Lakers and Dwight Howard are not proving a good fit, and he’s a free agent at the end of this year. Most of the talk has been about trading Pau Gasol, but the Lakers are instantly NBA Finals material with Garnett, a better fit for Coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense, a different but comparably excellent defender, a man Kobe would prefer to Howard, for right now (Nash, too, but he doesn’t have anything like Kobe’s veto power in LA).
Who says no to this trade?
Not the Lakers, who must think short term with the pieces they have. Things have gone so awry with Howard, personally, they might not even be able to sign him this summer. Dealing for KG cuts their losses and makes them better.
Not the Celtics, who can build around Howard, Rondo and maybe someone like Josh Smith (ATL homeboys reunite!), for Boston instantly becomes a free agent destination of choice with that young core (a core that doesn’t need to shoot; the gunners will line up to play with those guys).
Not the League: The numbers match up. Garnett makes $19 million and Howard just 11, but throw in Jeff Green ($8 million) or Brandon Bass (6) and it fits.
KG is one of the few NBA players with a no-trade clause. He’s been a model Celtic, but if we’ve learned anything about Garnett during his tenure in Boston, winning is paramount. The window is closing for him, too, and it’s gotta be clear, to him, this Celtics incarnation is toast (I’ve argued they could not realistically have won the last three years; they’ve been gallant but never had have the horses). He has two years in him, I reckon. So do Kobe and maybe Nash. Gasol for sure. Why would he say no?
Because the Lakers are, well, the “hated Lakers”, and because they have 16 championships to Boston’s 17, Pierce — who is too much of a Celtic to ever leave for the Lakers — would say no to a Howard-for-Pierce, Gasol-for-Pierce deal. He grew up in LA but he’s been that anomalous single-team player his whole career. He would not want to go to LA on a championship-mercenary mission.
I don’t believe KG looks at it the same way. He undertook that mission when he came to Boston. Perhaps he wouldn’t go to Miami, but I say he goes to LA.
Only the Celtics would have plausible motivation to say no. While they would probably not trade KG within the Eastern Conference, they might also balk at sending him to the “hated Lakers”. Danny Ainge could potentially be handing LA a 17th title and a place directly level with Boston in the Pantheon.
Still, that’s a lot of yes and a single no.
If you haven’t checked out Zach Lowe’s NBA reporting at Grantland.com, do. He’s extremely informed and a facile writer. This was a clever piece, for example, exploring the Celtics options and multiple potential trade partners. The Spurs make sense, though KG and Tim Duncan reportedly loath each other and San Antonio has nothing to give in return. Lowe (and Jalen Rose) both posit an Al Horford/Kyle Korver for Howard scenario, which makes more sense. But neither floats the Garnett for Howard idea, which makes the the most sense of all. The salaries line up. So do the stars, in an astrological sense and this vital sense: KG & Kobe would assent. These two stars are nearly burned out, and they want to win.