The Commercial Appeal
Nets, Celtics discuss deal for Pierce, Garnett
NEW YORK — The Nets and Boston Celtics are discussing a deal that would bring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, a source said Thursday.
On the day they hosted the NBA draft, the Nets were making much bigger noise with a potential transaction that would send the two perennial All-Stars to a new Atlantic Division home.
Yahoo Sports, which first reported the talks, said the Nets would also get veteran Jason Terry from the Celtics while sending Gerald Wallace, Tornike Shengelia, the expiring contract of Kris Humphries and three firstround picks to Boston.
The deal would complete the breakup of the core that led Boston to an NBA championship and within a victory of another. The Celtics already let Doc Rivers leave after acquiring a draft pick from the Los Angeles Clippers.
Garnett would have to waive a no-trade clause, which he has been reluctant to do previously. But the Nets hope he would consider it this time with Pierce joining him and the Celtics’ best days seemingly behind them. ESPN.com reported later Thursday that Garnett had approved the deal.
Nowitzki, Howard talking: Dirk Nowitzki says he has reached out to Los Angeles Lakers free-agent center Dwight Howard. The Dallas Mavericks essentially did the same thing during the draft Thursday night, trading down twice to clear about $1 million in salary cap space for a run at Howard next week.
“I reached out to (Howard) and told him we’d love to have him,” said the 35-year-old Nowitzki, who is looking for help for what figures to be about two more seasons as an elite player. “That’s really about it. It’s not like we call each other every day. I didn’t write him a letter.”
Dallas entered the draft needing to clear about $4 million in cap space to give Howard a max contract.
The Mavericks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2000 just two years after winning their first championship.
The Mavericks’ fall from title contention was tied to owner Mark Cuban’s decision not to bring back key parts of the 2011 team — most notably center Tyson Chandler — with the idea that salary- cap f lexibility would make Dallas a strong player in free agency.
Bird back with Pacers: Larry Bird is bringing a new perspective to the Pacers.
After watching from afar as the team he rebuilt reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in nine years and came within one victory of dethroning NBA champion Miami, Bird said he has a pretty good idea what it will take to lead Indiana to its first league title.
“My dreams, my goals are set pretty high,” he said after being reintroduced as the team’s president of basketball operations Thursday. “I know how hard it is to win a championship. It’s tough. But when you have guys who stick together, who play together, who share the basketball and care about one another, it’s a hell of a start.”
Although he concurred with successor and predecessor Donnie Walsh and general manager Kevin Pritchard that the team’s priority is to re-sign free agent David West — the power forward Bird signed two years ago to toughen up the team — Bird said he’s ready to improve the team’s bench play.
“One glaring need that I see is our bench,” he said. “The bench didn’t step up and play as well as we expected, so we have to upgrade that area and we don’t have a lot of money, so we’ll have to be creative.”