For the sake of argument, let’s say the Thunder goes 24-58 this season. Two years ago, that was the record of the Boston Celtics. The following season, they finished as NBA champions.
The world champs were in the Ford Center on Wednesday night and disposed of the Thunder 96-83 before a sellout crowd of 19,136, thanks primarily to a 49-26 differential in the second and third quarters. Back to the issue at hand. The Celtics finished 66-16 last season en route to their first world title since 1986. Their 42-game improvement was the greatest one-year turnaround in NBA history. If Boston could do it, why couldn’t the Thunder? The Thunder has plenty of wiggle room to lure talent, with a projected $32.5 million in salary cap space and two first-round selections in the 2009 draft. How about using that to acquire two future hall of famers, and place one on each side of Kevin Durant? Is it crazy to think this way? "I think it is,” Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "That normally doesn’t happen. Very few teams pick up one of those (type) players. To pick up two in the same year is unheard of.” On June 28, 2007, the Celtics obtained Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics in a draft-day trade. On July 31, 2007, Kevin Garnett came to Boston from Minnesota in exchange for Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair and two future first-round draft choices. Everyone figured the Celtics would be better — much better. What they were, was great. "I don’t think it’s realistic for anybody to make that kind of jump,” Carlesimo said. "I knew they’d be good, but I didn’t think they’d be as good as they were. They didn’t do it with mirrors. They did it convincingly.