During the 2016 NBA Finals, when the Lakers were a game away from beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, they were down 3-1 in the series. Had they lost that game, odds are the Lakers would have been knocked out of the playoffs. Luckily for them, when LeBron James blocked a potential game-tying shot at the end of regulation, the sports world was left to wonder one thing: What could the Lakers have done to get James to commit that foul?
During the offseason, the Lakers and Celtics swapped the hearts of their stars. After the Celtics traded for Isaiah Thomas, the Lakers traded for Russell Westbrook.
Last season the Lakers were a playoff team. Last year they were the NBA champions. Last year they were on a championship collision course with the Oklahoma City Thunder until a series of injuries derailed the team. The Lakers were forced to let the Thunder’s big guns shoot their way to a title. This season the Lakers are in no position to make the playoffs, but they have a chance to become the best team in the NBA. So far they are doing it in a way that has no parallel in the history of the league.. Read more about lakers 2021 and let us know what you think.
The new “Big 3” of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and recently acquired Russell Westbrook will lead the Los Angeles Lakers onto the court to begin the 2021-22 season. Of course, this isn’t the first time the NBA has had a “Big Three,” and it won’t be the last. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen, who led the Boston Celtics to a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals, were one of the most renowned “Big 3” combinations in recent memory. Of course, the Lakers, headed by Kobe Bryant, avenged themselves two years later, but that isn’t our primary concern today.
No, today we’re looking at how two-thirds of the Celtics’ “Big 3,” particularly Garnett and Pierce, were involved in the process of bringing Westbrook to Los Angeles. To be more precise, did the controversial 2013 deal in which the Boston Celtics essentially ripped off the Brooklyn Nets by sending the two aging players out of town ultimately lead to Russ returning to Hollywood?
Are you ready to make some connections?
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were traded between the Celtics and the Nets in the controversial 2013 deal.
It was obvious at the conclusion of the 2012-13 NBA season that the Celtics were on the wrong track. They’d reached the Eastern Conference Finals a year before, taking the Miami Heat’s “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh — not to mention Allen, who’d left the team the previous summer — to seven games. However, in 2012-13, Boston finished 41-40 and fell in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Knicks.
Pierce and Garnett were still effective NBA players at the moment, but their prime had passed them by. Garnett, who had just completed his 18th NBA season, turned 37 in May 2013, while Pierce, who had just completed his 15th, was scheduled to turn 36 in October.
The Brooklyn Nets have arrived.
Looking to add some experience to a relatively young team that included Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez, it appeared as if the Nets, who also lost in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs, believed that experienced champions like Garnett and Pierce could be the final pieces to their championship puzzle, which obviously did not turn out to be the case.
Because of the Nets’ seeming desperation, the Celtics gained a lot of draft choices in July 2013 by moving their aging stars to Brooklyn. In exchange for Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, Gerald Wallace, first-round selections in 2014, 2016, and 2018, and the opportunity to trade first-round picks in 2017, Boston transferred Garnett, Pierce, Jason Terry, D.J. White, and a second-round pick in 2017 to Brooklyn.
In 2017, the Celtics used their swap option, resulting in Kyle Kuzma joining the Lakers.
The Celtics utilized the Nets’ lottery choices in a variety of ways (some good, some poor) and decided to activate their exchange option in 2017, which gave them the first overall pick in the draft. The Celtics subsequently traded that selection to the 76ers in exchange for the third overall pick, which they used on Jayson Tatum, and a future first-round pick.
As a result, the Nets were given the 27th overall selection in the 2017 NBA draft. In return for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov, they agreed to trade that selection and Brook Lopez to the Lakers. Because agreements couldn’t be completed until after the draft, the Nets went with the Lakers and picked Kyle Kuzma that night.
Are you following where we’re headed with this?
Kuzma was basically the missing piece in the Lakers’ acquisition of Russell Westbrook.
Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images; Scott Taetsch/Getty Images; Jim Rogash/Getty Images | Los Angeles Lakers logo; Russell Westbrook logo; Boston Celtics logo |
In his four seasons with the Lakers, Kuzma not only proven to be a great asset, averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, but he also proved useful in his departure. The Lakers had previously declined to include Kuzma in trades, including the one that brought Anthony Davis to Los Angeles, but eventually parted ways with him in order to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in a five-team transaction that also included the Nets, Pacers, and Spurs.
It wasn’t only because of his talent level that Kuzma was a crucial component in the trade that brought Westbrook to the Lakers. His $13 million yearly salary added to the pot, as the Lakers attempted to get as close to Westbrook’s contract as possible in order to make the trade work.
So, let’s go through this again. There is no way to exchange choices with the Nets until the Celtics deal Garnett and Pierce. And if the Celtics do not exercise that option, the Nets are unlikely to execute a deal for D’Angelo Russell, which implies Kyle Kuzma will not be acquired by the Lakers.
They are unlikely to be able to deal for Russell Westbrook without Kuzma. So, if this whole Westbrook “Big 3” with LeBron and AD leads to the Lakers’ 18th NBA title, the Celtics may just be due a little “thank you” from Lakers supporters. It’s almost like the “thank you” they had to say to Larry Bird when the Lakers won the NBA championship in 2020.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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