EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 29, 2007

Blockbuster deal for C's

Dave Willis

BOSTON | Superstars just have a way of influencing a team.

Celtics star Paul Pierce wanted to enter the 2007-08 season with a proven NBA sidekick, and the Celtics brass satisfied their franchise player in a big way on draft night.

With the fifth pick in the draft, the Celtics took Georgetown forward Jeff Green. But even before the pick was made, word was it was simply a formality.

The Celtics swung a blockbuster deal that sent the draft pick along with guard Delonte West and forward Wally Szczerbiak to the Seattle SuperSonics for perennial All-Star guard Ray Allen and the 35th overall pick, which resulted in the draft rights to Glen "Big Baby" Davis.

So much for rebuilding.

When the deal was announced by ESPN, it was met with an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the fans in attendance at the draft party taking place at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Does this make the Celtics a favorite for the NBA finals? Not at the moment. But does it make them a contender in the East? More than likely.

"He (Allen) is one of the top 25 players in the league," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "He's a great scorer, a great shooter and an underrated ballhandler. ... And he's a finisher. Now when we take Paul or Al (Jefferson) off the floor, we still have Ray Allen, which is pretty good."

Trade rumors had been flying around Boston since the Celtics missed out on the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant sweepstakes on the night of the NBA draft lottery. But nearly all of those proposals had Boston sending star-in-the-making forward Al Jefferson in the deal for either Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett or Phoenix forward Shawn Marion.

While the apparent deal may not bring the Green a player as dominant as Garnett or with the potential of Oden, what it does bring them is a player who can shoot. And to simply say Allen can shoot is a bit of an understatement.

The 31-year-old is No. 2 all-time in NBA history in 3-pointers made in a career with 1,920 | second only to legendary Indiana Pacers long-range marksman Reggie Miller (2,560).

Sure, the 3-point field goal has only been around since the 1979-80 NBA season, but the stat still speaks for itself.

And, unlike other potential trade acquisitions, Allen is thrilled to be in Boston.

"I could not be more excited about coming to play for the Celtics," said Allen. "I am glad to be back in the New England area and cannot wait to get onto the floor and play with players the caliber of Paul Pierce and Al Jefferson."

Allen, who was drafted by the Timberwolves out of the University of Connecticut with the fifth pick in the 1996 NBA draft, then immediately traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, is far more than just a shooter.

In 11 NBA seasons with the Bucks (1996-2002) and Sonics (2002-07), Allen has been selected to seven All-Star games and has a career scoring average of 21.5 points per game. His best scoring average was last season when he averaged 26.4 points a night.

This would come in handy for a Celtics team that frequently struggled to score. The C's ranked 22nd in the league in scoring a season ago with 95.8 points per game.

Is there risk in this deal? Definitely. Allen had offseason knee surgery and plays a very similar game to Pierce's.

But it does vastly improve the offense without forcing Boston to deal Jefferson, their best chip and budding star.

And it keeps Pierce happy and in Boston.

"Paul is thrilled to death," said Danny Ainge, Celtics executive director of basketball operations. "We wanted to take advantage of this window of opportunity with a player we believe is one of the best Celtics that has ever to put on the uniform in Paul Pierce."