Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Rarest of all Creatures...

Sshhhhh. Don't make any sudden moves. Try not to make any noise. Just sit there, quietly, and enjoy something that is about as rare as seeing a live-dodo bird in the wild.

A true win-win trade in the NBA.

This kind of thing just doesn't happen anymore. Almost every trade made these days, with the salary cap rules the way they are, is either a one-sided salary dump, a one-sided rebuilding project, or a one-sided shipment of a disgruntled superstar. Yesterday's Celtics/T-Wolves megadeal (after the Celtics/Sonics draft night deal) is that rare bird - a trade that benefitted both teams.

Minnesota got (in theory) seven players for the face of their franchise, assuming they make both draft picks and don't dump Sebastian Telfair. Of course, Theo Ratliff will probably never see the hardwood in Minneapolis, but his contract gives them a ton of cap room next season. They got a younger version of KG in Al Jefferson (Prep-to-pros big man with double-double written all over him, will eventually command a double-team everytime he touches the ball, wears his heart on his sleeve, etc.), the ultimate team/intangibles guy in Ryan Gomes, and the allure of Gerald Green's potential. They've just become the '06 Celtics of the Western Conference.

That might not sound too appealling, but with cap room to spare and extra draft picks to move, they might not be rebuilding all that long.

As for Boston, well, they went from praying for a loss every night to getting ready to print up NBA Finals tickets (and maybe even starting the work on Banner #17). They've got one of the top three big men in the conference (Shaq & Chris Bosh, with KG, fill out that top-3 in some order), and two of the best pure shooters in the entire NBA. Sure, they have only about 4 total guys on the roster, but as the C's proved in '02 with Pierce & Walker - you can get to the Eastern Conference Finals with two top-25 guys and a roster full of "others". Now, they've got three top-25 guys (one in the top 10), and no other roster. I'm sure they can fill it in as they go along.

They're not quite the team to beat in the East yet - Chicago, Detroit & maybe even New Jersey and Toronto can give them a run - but they instantly went from the bottom of the barrel to right in the mix. If they can lure one or two mid-level free agents to join them and fill out their roster, they can be the East representatives in the NBA Finals.

And that's all we ask for. Celtics' fans expectations have been lowered so much in the past decade that all we want is to matter again. Now we do. Boston is no longer considered an "off night" on other teams schedules. They can't be overlooked, they can't be easily dismissed, and if other teams don't start paying attention, they won't be stopped.


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