It’s been a long and unpredictable journey for the Nets since what many remember as being the worst trade of all time with the Celtics in 2013 – but Brooklyn is now sitting in first place in the Eastern Conference and poised to compete for a championship.
Billy King, former Nets GM, made that blockbuster trade in 2013 with the Boston Celtics to try and spark excitement around the franchise while also contending for a championship. This was also not long after the Nets relocated from New Jersey to Brooklyn. Let’s take a look back at the Nets’ eventful history in Brooklyn leading up to the most anticipated playoff run for the franchise in more than a decade.
2013: Nets trade for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry
In 2013, the Brooklyn Nets traded Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans on a sign-and-trade, first-round picks in 2014, 2016, the rights to swap first-round picks in 2017 and last but not least their 2018 first-round pick. It was as if the list would never end. In return, Brooklyn acquired 37-year-old Kevin Garnett, a 36-year-old Paul Pierce, a 36-year-old Jason Terry and DJ White. With the new squad, alongside Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, Brooklyn went as far as the second round before losing to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. The destruction didn’t end there though. Paul Pierce departed to the Wizards the following season. Nets fans look at this trade as one of the most regretful transactions ever and many believed they wouldn’t be able to come back from this. The Celtics, in essence, robbed the Brooklyn Nets, and put themselves in a position to contend for years.
Kyrie Irving was given a responsibility by Celtics fans, upon arriving in Boston after getting traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers, to help lead them to a championship. Their roster had some serious talent: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier. In 2018, Irving missed the playoffs after getting knee surgery. The following year, Uncle Drew underperformed in the playoffs. He was still dealing with the death of his grandfather at the time. Giannis' Milwaukee Bucks capitalized on the Celtics and eliminated them in the second-round. In that same summer, Kyrie Irving became a free agent and decided to go back home. He flew to the Bay area to recruit Kevin Durant to join him and as a result, 7/11 shocked the world in free agency by joining the Brooklyn Nets.
Nets complete season sweep on Celtics to claim the first seed in the East
This brings us to Friday's Celtics-Nets game. Brooklyn was undermanned, just like Boston, but notably playing without Kevin Durant and James Harden. When the Beard arrived in Brooklyn, it was clear that the Nets were serious about delivering a championship this year to the city of New York. The same goal the franchise had in mind in 2013 after trading for hall-of-famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett This time though, all three of the Nets’ superstars are in their prime. Steve Nash’s squad is getting healthier, and while there have been plenty of concerns over the availability of James Harden and Kevin Durant, we haven't yet seen the Nets playing to their full potential and yet they still lead the conference. It just seemed almost fitting that the Nets claimed the first seed in the East against the Boston Celtics, the team that almost caused this franchise’s downfall.