There has been a lot of talk in the recent few days about the 2008 Boston Celtics, as they’re coming up on the 10-year anniversary of their championship, and Rajon Rondo is planning to exclude Ray Allen from any team celebration. But according to a story told by Chris Mullin in Ric Bucher’s new longform on the “We Believe” Warriors, that ‘08 Celtics team never should have come together; Kevin Garnett was supposed to be on the Warriors that season:
Surrounded by a sea of yellow “We Believe” T-shirts and placards, Davis’ dunk became the lasting image of that run. A more tantalizing one, though, never made it out of Mullin’s dreams: Davis and Jackson joined by Kevin Garnett -- yes, that Kevin Garnett, still in his prime -- to take the step the We Believers had left untaken.
“It was basically done,” Mullin says. “I was doing an extension with Andy Miller on Kevin Garnett’s deal. KG liked Baron enough, and we had talked enough. He said, ‘Yo, I’ll do it.’”
A 2007 draft-night three-team deal with the Timberwolves and Charlotte (then the Bobcats) would’ve sent Garnett to the Warriors, Richardson to the Bobcats and picks and talent to the Timberwolves. It fell apart, Mullin says, when then-Warriors owner Chris Cohan dragged his feet and ultimately said no.
With his unmatched intensity and drive, Garnett would have fit right in alongside Davis, Stephen Jackson and that Warriors bunch. Coming off the iconic upset of the Dallas Mavericks in the first round the season before, the Warriors won 48 games in the 2007-08 season without Garnett (but failed to make the playoffs). It’s pretty fascinating to think how good they could have been with him in the fold, anchoring the defense and giving them 20-plus points a night.
And beyond that first season, think about all the other ways that trade would have have affected the NBA. The Celtics never win that title in 2008, and since they never have Garnett and Paul Pierce to trade as a package to Brooklyn, they never fleece the Nets for three first-round picks, and Pierce likely plays out his career at TD Garden.
With Garnett, the Warriors aren’t in the lottery in 2009, so they don’t draft Stephen Curry, and this current iteration of the Warriors never comes to pass. And what effect does this current Warriors group never coming together have on the NBA in general? Their style of play has revolutionized the game.
There are plenty of what-if trades that you could go on and on about in NBA history, but Garnett going to the Warriors instead of the Celtics is right up there as one of the most interesting.