On June 27, 2013, the Brooklyn Nets acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics. The two future Hall of Famers would join Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez on a team that had been the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference the year before.
It was no secret at the time that Brooklyn had paid a hefty price for Pierce and Garnett, sacrificing three future first round picks and offering the Celtics the opportunity to swap 2017 first-rounders. But many people were willing to look past that. The Nets, they reasoned, would worry about those lost draft picks later. For now, they had a star-studded team with the potential to chase down the Miami Heat.
“For the first time now, the Nets have truly arrived as a contending franchise,” Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote several weeks later, after Brooklyn signed Andrei Kirilenko. “They’re good, with a chance to be great.”
Sean Deveney of the Sporting News went a step further.
“There is a top-level championship contender in the Eastern Conference,” he wrote. “And it’s in Brooklyn.”
At the end of his column, Deveney made a bold proclamation: “As it stands here in July, the Nets are better than the Heat.”
Deveney was certainly in the minority, but he wasn’t alone. Nets guard Jason Terry, who came over from Boston along with Pierce and Garnett, predicted a title:
Jason Terry: "There’s something in the air here that says the Brooklyn Nets will be the NBA champions next year."
— Clevis Murray (@ClevisMurray) July 19, 2013
Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who had also just left the Celtics, felt the Nets could get by the Heat:
Doc Rivers believes the Nets can now knock off the Heat in the East.
— Clevis Murray (@ClevisMurray) July 29, 2013
ESPN’s championship odds formula bought the hype.
— Jeff Greer (@jeffgreer_cj) July 3, 2013
So did Las Vegas:
Las Vegas believes in the Nets after the trade, dramatically slashing their odds to win the title: http://t.co/kUAcNlnj4V
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) June 29, 2013
And of course various media members:
KG, Pierce, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams…the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets are my favorites for the 2007 NBA title.
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) June 28, 2013
So the Brooklyn Nets are now immediate title contenders. Granger back for IND. Rose back for CHI. Knicks fifth best team in the East? Maybe.
— Josh Hammer (@josh_hammer) June 28, 2013
— Moke Hamilton (@MokeHamilton) July 18, 2013
If this trade goes down, I think all #Nets fans can realistically go into 2013-14 season with Championship expectations.
— Mark Miller (@TheRealMills16) June 27, 2013
Kirilenko wants a title…#Nets just became a HUGE threat to contend for one.
— Jake Brown (@JakeBrownRadio) July 12, 2013
This show actually existed:
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) October 15, 2013
Well, it didn’t quite work out like that. Here are the Nets’ win totals, beginning the year before they acquired Pierce and Garnett.
2012-13: 49 wins
2013-14: 44 wins
2014-15: 38 wins
2015-16: 21 wins
2016-17 (pace): 13 wins
In the brief KG/Paul Pierce era in Brooklyn, the Nets reached the playoffs twice, winning a series in 2014 before losing to the Heat in five games in the second round.
Meanwhile, the Celtics got the No. 17 pick in the 2014 draft (They selected James Young) and the No. 3 pick in the 2016 draft (Jaylen Brown) and will get the Nets pick again this year and next year. The Nets currently have by far the worst record in the NBA but won’t be able to capitalize on the top-3 draft pick that comes with being at the bottom. Basically, Brooklyn has no talent and no way to acquire talent. The organization is screwed.
That title some people predicted back in 2013 might have to wait a while.