BOSTON — Letting Doc Rivers go to the Los Angeles Clippers was the first sign. Getting rid of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett clinched it.
The Boston Celtics are rebuilding.
The Celtics have agreed to the terms of a deal that would send the two remaining members of the Big Three that won the 2008 NBA title to the Brooklyn Nets for a package of draft picks and players. Garnett is a future Hall of Famer, but it’s Pierce’s departure that signals the end of an era for the league’s most-decorated franchise.
“It’s sad to see everybody leave Boston. You just want them to go someplace where they have a chance to win, and they have,” Rivers said at Clippers draft headquarters late Thursday night. “It’s a great trade for Boston, too; not now, later. Danny wanted to rebuild, and that’s what he’s doing.”
The longest-tenured member of the Celtics, Pierce is the team’s captain, a 10-time All-Star and a likely Hall of Famer. He is the second-leading scorer in the history of the NBA’s most-decorated franchise, and is also in the team’s top six in rebounds, assists, steals, games and minutes played.
Garnett is also a future Hall of Famer, though only the last six years of his career were in Boston. It’s Pierce, who slipped to 10th in the 1998 draft and has been a Celtic ever since, who had a chance to spend his entire career with the franchise and add his name to a list that includes Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Bill Russell and John Havlicek.
(But not Bob Cousy, Robert Parish or even Red Auerbach.)
“(It’s) sort of sad. You hate to see it,” said Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who was an assistant on the Celtics 2008 championship team. “But that’s the NBA. It’s constant change, and you have to be ready to adapt. I think what Paul Pierce did for that franchise and Kevin — I think’s it’s good for them. They have an opportunity to continue on.