HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The countdown to crazy season in the NBA is on.
Anything goes during crazy season, no rumor is too out there and no anonymous source is out off-limits. That’s what adds all of the spice to the process.
The very first and perhaps most intriguing report of the countdown season comes from The Sporting News, which has multiple sources claiming that the Los Angeles Clippers are interested in making a deal for Boston Celtics All-Star Kevin Garnett. The deal would reportedly involve the Clippers giving up promising young point guard Eric Bledsoe and veteran swingman Caron Butler.
The obligatory refuting of these claims are already in full effect, with ESPN’s Chris Broussard reporting that there have been no “trade talks” between the Clippers and Celtics, which of course would force someone to come up with a clear-cut definition of “trade talks.”
But there is no doubt that both the Clippers, losers of five of their last seven games with injured All-Star point guard Chris Paul on the shelf, and the Celtics, who will finish this season without their own All-Star point guard, Rajon Rondo, are searching for solutions. Sean Deveney of The Sporting News made a compelling case for these two franchises doing business in his initial report:
Celtics officials have made no decisions about the future, even with rookie power forward Jared Sullinger (back surgery) joining point guard Rajon Rondo (knee) last week in seeing their seasons end.
The Celtics came into Sunday’s game on a four-game winning streak and will wait until closer to the trade deadline to decide whether to keep this team together. The deadline is 3 p.m. ET Feb. 21.
For now, the Clippers wait on their injured guards. [Chauncey] Billups is working his way back from a foot injury. There is no timetable for the return of star point guard Paul from a knee injury. [Jamal] Crawford, the team’s sixth man, is wearing an industrial-strength facemask to protect his broken nose.
The Clippers are a battered bunch and losers of five of their previous seven games.
Coach Vinny Del Negro hopes to get Paul and Billups back during the team’s eight-game trip, which runs through Feb. 11.
“Right now, it is all about winning games,” Del Negro said. “We need to get guys back to win at a higher rate than we are right now, then we were used to at the beginning of the season. It’s a long season; you have to manage it the right way. When we think we’re getting everyone back, it seems like, so far this year, someone’s been injured. You have to manage that. You have to take the highs and the lows.”
But still, the Clippers are going for it. And why not? When healthy, they count themselves among NBA title contenders. That’s saying something for a franchise that had long been considered not just among the NBA’s worst, but in all of sports.
Considering, too, the struggles of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Clippers see this season as a chance to reach at least the Western Conference finals and in doing so to reorder the hoops hierarchy in LA.
Garnett, who makes his offseason home in Malibu, has a no-trade clause in his contract and two years left on his contract. So there is that one, gigantic hurdle to deal with. He’s not going anywhere he doesn’t want to go.
But he could have worse options than joining a Clippers team that could be one or two healthy stars away from making a championship run. The championship window in Boston is closed, no matter how hard Celtics coach Doc Rivers tries to fight it.
Garnett has a limited amount of time left to chase a second title to pair with the one he won with the Celtics in 2008. Rolling with the Clippers could be his best and last chance to add to his already Hall of Fame worthy resume. For a player as consumed by winning as Garnett has been his entire career, it would be hard to dismiss an opportunity like this were it actually on the table.
And that brings us back to the core of crazy season in the NBA. No matter how far-fetched an idea seems in theory, the possibilities will get floated to the basketball-loving public between now and the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
The countdown to crazy season in the NBA is on!