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Celtics owner says he tracked Nets in the standings all year

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NBA: Boston Celtics-Media Day David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK, N.Y. – When asked whether he watched the standings to track the Nets, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck smirked and said, “Oh, for sure, I watched them this year.”

He, along with the rest of the Celtic pride. They followed the Nets and tracked their record all season long, smiling with every loss as they watched their own cruise through the regular season as the No. 1 seed in the East. Now they’re in the conference finals.

Grousbeck, humble and hesitant to discuss what he wants to do with the pick, credits the Nets for going after it while they could. Of course it’s easy for him to say. Not so much for the Nets, unless you rewind back to 2013.

“Thinking back at the time, the Nets were going for a championship and that’s what you have to do when you have a chance. Respect to them for going all in and trying. At the time that trade looked like the right thing for both sides,” Grousbeck said. “You’ve gotta give it to Brooklyn for putting together a contending team, which they did. They had a great team and now it’s our turn.”

He didn’t mention the lack of protections.

The Nets finished 44-38 the season after the trade and lost in the second round to the Miami Heat. They traded away a few assets and three unprotected picks for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.

“It felt like it was time. It felt like it was time to make the trade. We didn’t want to do it, you know those guys are Hall-of-Famers and champions but it was time to start rebuilding four years ago and now we’re starting to see some benefits.”

He didn’t mention the lack of protections.

Pierce and Garnett showed up to training camp unprepared both physically and mentally. They were aging veterans whose hearts remained in Boston. It seemed right at the time, but they were Boston Celtics. Not Brooklyn Nets. They had their moments, but they didn’t last very long and there weren’t all that many.

And so, the rest is history. That and the lack of protections.

Losing picks is more complex than people realize. Having a young player come out of the draft saves teams millions of dollars. Grousbeck explained the importance of having picks, dismissing the idea of the Celtics potentially trading it.

“I’d imagine we take the pick. In today’s NBA, picks are very, very valuable. You’ve got a young person you can really help mold and grow with – bring him in before the max salaries kick in years later.”

The problem isn’t over for the Nets. At least they have the 22nd and 27th pick in this year’s draft. It’s next year’s draft that’s the issue. They agreed to send their first-round pick to Boston WITHOUT a swap and WITHOUT protections. Did we mention that before? No compensation for anything.

It’s all fun and games for the Grousbeck, Ainge and the Boston Celtics. For Sean Marks, Kenny Atkinson and the Brooklyn Nets… it’s the harsh reality of where this organization is ... and will be for a while.