OK, I'll admit, it's hard not to get excited about Kevin Garnett being a Boston Celtic.
As you may remember, I was a little iffy on the trade that sent a third of last year's team to Minnesota for Kevin Garnett. Not that I hate Garnett, but I was hesitant to get rid of every single trade chip the Celtics owned for an upgrade from a good power forward to a really great one, while at the same time nixing any possibility of a major roster upgrade in the other areas of the team that needed it the most through a trade.
Remember, before the KG trade was made, the two biggest needs on the Celtics were a top-of-rotation center and a veteran point guard. After the KG trade, the two biggest needs are still a top-of-rotation center and a veteran point guard, although the Celtics now have no chips to trade for them.
And while my concerns over the roster balance still remain, and I may still play "what if" in my mind every once in awhile, I can't really hold that line of thinking much longer. "What if" scenarios are only good for so long, until you realize that such things carry no guarantees, that it takes willing teams to make a trade and the other "pieces" out there may not have been attainable in the first place.
Reflecting on that, making the Garnett trade, once both Boston and Minnesota agreed on the details, was the only really sure thing they could do. They want to win now. They don't want to wait for the perfect "what if" scenario. I can accept that now.
So, has the KG excitement finally reeled me in, hook, line and sinker?
Well, that sinker didn't make it, but the hook's barbs are clean through the cheek.
Well, first of all, that press conference with Allen, Pierce and Garnett went a long way toward boosting the needle on the meter. Although I still had my reservations about the trade at the time, I couldn't help grinning at my TV set like a kid on a Toys-R-Us shopping spree while the whole thing unfolded. When is the last time you so three guys so happy to be Boston Celtics? And KG kissing his Celtic jersey? I'm secure enough to admit I blushed and giggled like a school girl.
Secondly, Garnett's monstrous contract and impending monstrous extension had me balking at the financial disaster the deal would make the team. But then KG comes out and takes a discount on last three years of the deal, taking a large cut in his 2009-10 through 2011-12 salaries and forgoing millions on what would have been a natural rise in his salary scale. Don't get me wrong, he's still expensive, and his salary slot still takes up a hefty portion of the C's cap room. But it now takes a lot less than it would have had he signed a max extension in the arena of $25 million a year.
Third, who knew that KG would be such a good recruiter? When word got out that Reggie Miller was seriously thinking about coming out of retirement and hitching his wagon to the Green, I laughed a little. Come on Reggie, you're about to turn 43! How are those old bones going to hold up when you flop to the ground 30 times a game? How many consecutive picks can you run off before you need an oxygen mask and an ice bathtub?
Yet, as ridiculous as it sounded, it somehow didn't seem as crazy anymore when KG showed up at Miller's doorstep while Reggie was doing a phone interview with Dan Patrick and announced that he's in full-fledged "Get Reggie mode." And regardless of how much you think Miller has left in the tank (and I am very skeptical that he does), to have a guy -- a lifelong Indiana Pacer, future Hall of Famer who has been retired for two years – even contemplate making one last go of it all because of one Kevin Garnett … well, that tells you something.
And even if the C's don't have the financial flexibility to be able to offer much to any free agent over the next two years, the Reggie pursuit alone should be an indicator that all hope may not be lost to fill in the roster with quality veterans. KG and his All-Star sidekicks on the wings are now the magnets, probably the strongest drawing force in the league, and hopefully they'll attract more than just fannies in the seats. Hopefully they'll attract those last missing pieces, and bookend it with the shiny metal of a championship ring.
As for now, the magnets haven't yielded any exceptional catches. Scot Pollard is far from an acceptable big-man solution. NBDL vagabonds like Jackie Manuel should no longer be on Ainge's radar. We shouldn't be trying to get excited about a Brian Scalabrine rebirth.
But aside from Miller, the attractiveness of this team may not yield much until the All Star trio has a season in green under their belt. If they make it far enough this season with what they have … far enough to convince any number of ring-chasers that they are only a piece away … then the true force of that magnet will be on display. If by then they are able to bring in bargain-basement veteran quality, then the trade's biggest financial coup may not be Garnett's discount extension, it will be who he can convince to jump on board for a bag of peanuts and join the quest for the title.
I just hope that Charles Barkley isn't in his Five.