It appears that the second-leading scorer in Boston Celtics franchise history may be on the market.
Team executives involved in exploratory trade talks report that the Knicks (Amar’e Stoudemire), Lakers (Pau Gasol), Raptors (Bargnani) and Celtics (Paul Pierce) are open to discussing their high-profile names. In every case but one, the early indications are that none could be moved without a bad contract going back in return. (In Stoudemire’s case, his health and the $45 million left on his contract after this season almost certainly will prevent any deal from happening.) The lone exception, executives say, may be Pierce, whose ruthless scoring prowess and championship experience come with another attractive feature: only $4 million of his $15.3 million salary is guaranteed next season.
The Celtics are currently riding a five-game winning streak, but only find themselves two games over .500 with a record of 19-17. That’s good enough for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
This isn’t the first time rumors have swirled of a possible Pierce trade. There were reports last April that Paul was nearly sent to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Mehmet Okur’s expiring contract, as well as a potential lottery pick in that summer’s draft.
Through 36 games, Pierce is averaging 19.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting a little under 44% from the field. Those numbers remain in the ballpark of what he’s been putting up over the last four seasons.
Even at 35 years of age and no longer in the prime of his career, Paul still remains a valid scoring option on the offensive end.
As Ken Berger mentioned in his piece, Pierce is set to make $15.3 million during the 2013-14 season, but only $4 million is actually guaranteed. That could be very attractive to some teams looking to acquire his services.
Despite all of that, it’s almost baffling to think the Celtics are desperate enough to improve their team that trading away a player who has been with the franchise for 15 seasons is reasonable in their minds.
Eventually, Danny Ainge is going to have to move on and start anew with this roster. Pierce is 35 and teammate Kevin Garnett is 36. Age is always a major concern in the NBA. How much longer can he roll with those two veterans as the focal point of the team?
It doesn’t look right.
Just because Paul Pierce is being made available to potential trading partners, doesn’t necessarily mean he will be moved before the February 21st trade deadline. The deal would have to be beyond perfect in order for Ainge to let go of a true Celtics legend (and yes, Pierce has hit that level of success in Boston).
Do I believe it will happen? Well, the Celtics have come on as of late, especially with the return of defensive swingman Avery Bradley. I still wouldn’t pick them to knock off the Miami Heat in the postseason though.
While a actual deal is highly improbable, you can never say never in the NBA.