The fact that the Miami Heat are currently in the NBA Finals is not the only reason as to why Celtics fans should be playing the ‘what if?’ game today.
What should hurt the most: What if the ping-pong balls had bounced the right way back on May 22, 2007?
What if Danny Ainge was so smitten with Kevin Durant, that he would have selected the Texas rookie over Greg Oden (a near-preposterous notion at the time, but one Ainge stands by) a month later?
Would the Celtics have held on to Paul Pierce? Would they have held on to Rajon Rondo? Where would Kevin Garnett have landed? Would LeBron James already have a ring?
Here’s a few educated guesses at to what would have happened if Durant wound up in Green. Undoubtedly, the landscape of the NBA would be a hell of a lot different:
No Banner 17 in 2008
It wouldn’t have happened right away, but there is no doubt that if Durant landed in a Celtics uniform, Boston would be title contenders until approximately 2023.
The Celtics, led by Chris Paul, Al Jefferson, David West and Durant would likely be in the Finals right now against the ancient Spurs.
What happened to Pierce and Rondo?
There’s little doubt that Ainge would have pulled a Sam Presti had he landed Durant – that is trading his biggest old star (Pierce … like Ray Allen) and a valuable chip (Rondo) for something he long coveted (Chris Paul).
Ainge was surely trigger-happy during this time period and would have wanted to build this thing from the ground-up, using a full-on youth movement. Pierce wouldn’t have factored into those plans at the time and Rondo was still a very unproven player.
Chris Paul trade rumors started the day he arrived in the league and Ainge was in on nearly all of them. It’s a sure bet that he would have offered a huge package for Paul at some point between 2007 and 2012.
Where would KG have landed?
Crazy to think now, but the Lakers.
Pau Gasol had yet to be shipped to Los Angeles and Garnett was ready to be moved. Kobe Bryant was pleading with Mitch Kupchak to get him some help and was threatening to leave himself. Garnett was the biggest fish out there at the time and one would guess that Kupchak would have found a way to get No. 5 (or 21) in purple and gold.
LeBron would have a ring already
If the Celtics had not stood in the way of the Cavs in 2008 and 2010, LeBron would likely have led the Cavs to the Finals in both of those years. Here’s guessing they would have won one out of two against whatever came out of the West.
Who knows, if LeBron knew he could, in fact, win a title in Cleveland, who is to say he would have ever jumped to Miami? … Na, that probably still would have happened.