Opinion: Celtics should look to trade Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce has worn green his entire NBA career.

When Ray Bourque enters the TD Garden these days he enters as a Boston Bruins legend, not as a Bruins and Colorado Avalanche legend.

When Michael Jordan’s “last shot” is discussed, people talk about the dagger of a jumper he drained in Utah in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals as a member of the Chicago Bulls. Not many reminisce about the free throw Jordan hit in Philly against the Sixers on April 16, 2003, which officially was his last NBA shot as a member of the Washington Wizards.

In sports, these late career pit-stops rarely ruin the memories of the prime years for elite athletes. So if you’re worried as to what Paul Pierce’s Celtics legacy will be when his great career ends, don’t. No matter what happens between now and the day No. 34 decides to hang ’em up, he’s a Celtic for life.

This idealistic “loyalty” thing is really the only reason any Celtics fan would want to hold on to Pierce. As currently constructed, the Celtics aren’t winning Banner 18 this year and when next season starts, Pierce will be 36-years-old.

Pierce is a great scoring wing player. Some even argue that he might be the best pure scorer in team history (I still think that Bird guy was pretty good). But Pierce’s points have always come via 3-pointers and spin moves in the paint and pull-up, mid-range jumpers. Not often do they come on a fast break with Rajon Rondo leading the charge. Never do they come with Pierce on the receiving end of a Rondo alley-oop.
At one point in his career we worried that Pierce’s prime was wasting away because the Celtics couldn’t find any players who complimented his style. Soon, we might begin to wonder the same in the case of Rondo.
We still don’t know what it looks like when Rondo plays with a super-athletic wing player who can score the basketball. Sorry, but Jeff Green, he with the 9.4 ppg stat line, doesn’t count.

Would the Celtics offense flow a bit better with Memphis’ Rudy Gay filling the lane? Would Rondo’s old high school buddy Josh Smith be able to finish off one of Rondo’s lobs on the fast break? I’d like to think so.
The problem in acquiring one of those players is that the Celtics will need to give up at least one of their big chips. Pierce fits the bill.

Why would a team like the Grizzlies or Hawks make a swap with the C’s for Pierce? Well, both are in the middle of the pack of their respective conference’s playoff picture. Both are in need of a playoff-tested veteran to push them into the conversation of the league’s best teams. In short, the Celtics need to get younger and those two teams need to get older and wiser.

Pierce, whose contract runs through 2014, was nearly dealt to the New Jersey Nets last year at the trade deadline for Mehmet Okur’s expiring contract and a lottery pick, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Danny Ainge has long said that if the right deal came along, he would put loyalty on the back burner.

The time is now for the Celtics to get younger and more athletic. If that means saying goodbye to the beloved captain of the Green, so be it.


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