You wanted a veteran? Well, the Celtics got you a veteran.
It just may not have been the type of veteran many were envisioning heading into last night's NBA draft.
For the second straight year, the Celtics drafted a player who will never don a Boston uniform, as they chose Georgetown forward Jeff Green and sent him, along with Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West, to Seattle in a trade for seven-time All-Star Ray Allen and the No. 35 overall pick.
That pick turned into LSU wide body Glen "Big Baby" Davis and came minutes after the Celtics plucked USC junior point guard Gabe Pruitt at the No. 32 spot.
The trade was completed a few minutes prior to the start of the draft. Celtics executive of basketball operations Danny Ainge said late last night a shift in Seattle's asking price sealed the deal after two weeks of discussion.
"It's very hard to acquire All-Star-caliber players," Ainge said. "We think it's an opportunity to make Al Jefferson better, make Paul Pierce better and make Rajon Rondo better.
"We couldn't be more thrilled," he added. "We think he will be a fantastic addition to our team. This will give us a chance to compete in the Eastern Conference."
With Allen, the Celtics bring in one of the premier offensive players in the NBA, though critics of the deal will say that it comes at a price both in terms of money and age. The fifth pick of the 1996 draft out of the University of Connecticut finished fifth in the NBA in scoring last season at 26.4 points per game in 55 contests before his season ended prematurely due to ankle pain.
Allen, who turns 32 next month, had surgery on both ankles in April and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. It was the fourth time in the last six seasons that Allen failed to play at least 60 games.
When healthy, there have been few backcourt players more offensively prolific and he figures to give Pierce the scoring support that Szczerbiak and Ricky Davis were unable to provide in recent years. Allen shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range last year with 165 treys. His 1,920 career 3-pointers rank him among the all-time leaders in that category. Allen is also a great foul shooter (90.3 percent career) and contributed 4.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists last season.
Ainge said that he spoke with Pierce about the trade earlier in the night and that the captain was "thrilled to death" about it.
"This is something we've been talking about for a year," Ainge said, "to try to take advantage of this window of opportunity with a player that we think is one of the best Celtics to ever put on a uniform in Paul Pierce."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he spoke with Allen last night and got a great response.
"He's excited," the coach said. "He said this showed that we were really trying to win. He has been stuck for three years not winning and he wants to attempt to try and win games."
Rivers called the pairing of Pierce and Allen "a great fit" with Allen playing shooting guard and Pierce moving to small forward.
Though more moves may be forthcoming, Ainge said this is already the best team he has put together since he took over the Celtics.
"No question this team is," he declared. "They have no excuses."
Money was a big factor in this deal. Allen is signed to a contract in the maximum-salary range that is slated to bring him about $52.2 million over the next three seasons. But the Celtics were able to get out from under the final two years of the injury-plagued Szczerbiak's contract ($26 million total) and now don't have to worry about extending West's rookie contract with Jefferson, Tony Allen and Ryan Gomes potentially due big pay raises as well.
"It was tough giving up Delonte because we love Delonte," Ainge said, "and Wally has been a good soldier as well."
The trade leaves the Celtics with most of the promising young talents on the team - including Jefferson, Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Gerald Green - along with the big trading chip of Theo Ratliff's $11.7 million expiring contract.
"We did not want to part with Al Jefferson," Ainge said of other trade talks. "Al Jefferson and Rajon Rondo, we feel, are players on this team who have a chance to be special players."
Georgetown's Green would have seemed a nice choice for Boston at No. 5, though the Celtics may not have made the versatile former Hoya its pick had it held onto it. The momentum throughout the day yesterday seemed to be trending toward China's 7-foot forward Yi Jianlian. Jianlian wound up going sixth to the Bucks.
"Everybody falls in love with the draft every year," Ainge said, "but I don't think any of the players picked tonight are going to be as good as Ray Allen over the next couple of years."