NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

June 29, 2013

End of era as Celtics rebuild without Pierce

(Continued)

“Good for the Celtics, where they can start their rebuilding.”

Pierce was drafted in the Rick Pitino era when the Celtics, already in the midst of the longest championship drought in franchise history, were a year removed from the second-worst record in the NBA (a mark that was not good enough to land them the top prize in the draft, Tim Duncan).

He helped the team reach the Eastern Conference finals in 2002. But, convinced that they were not likely to go farther, Ainge was brought in the next year to tear things apart again.

Boston plummeted back into the NBA lottery and again bad luck prevented them from landing a franchise player like Kevin Durant. Instead, Ainge swung deals for Garnett and Allen that earned the Celtics their NBA-record 17th championship in the very first year.

But Garnett was injured the next year, and Kendrick Perkins went down in Game 6 of the finals in 2010, when the Celtics lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. Then came two eliminations by Miami and, after five straight division titles, a third-place finish and first-round loss to the New York Knicks.

Ainge was convinced that the time had come to start over.

Rivers’ exit was negotiated with the Clippers, landing Boston a first-round draft choice in 2015 and freeing the Celtics from the $21 million remaining on his contract. Garnett and Pierce will go to Brooklyn as soon as the deal can be finalized on July 10.

Yahoo Sports, which first reported the talks, said the Nets would also get veteran Jason Terry from Boston and send Gerald Wallace, Kris Joseph, the expiring deal of Kris Humphries and first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018 to the Celtics. Boston is left with Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Avery Bradley, along with Jared Sullinger and first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, a 7-footer from Gonzaga.

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