Would the Celtics trade Paul Pierce?
“If I were presented with those kind of deals for our aging veterans, it’s a done deal to continue the success … After those guys retired, the Celtics had a long drought.”
Those are the nonsentimental words of Celtics boss Danny Ainge, speaking with The Boston Globe, this past winter.
“Those kind of deals” Ainge spoke of included Boston bringing in young talents like Chuck Person, Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins in exchange for old stars Larry Bird and Kevin McHale back in the late 1980s.
Today, the Celtics face a similar situation in which they must, one way or another find one, if not two, All-Star caliber player(s) to place alongside Rajon Rondo.
The title-contending teams in this copycat league have mimicked Ainge’s vision from 2007, of putting three All-Stars together on one team while tinkering each year to find suitable role players for a low cost.
If that remains the formula for a title in the NBA for the next 10 years, how do the Celtics bring in two more studs?
One option that is surely a taboo topic around Boston is trading Paul Pierce, the face of the franchise for the past 14 years.
Pierce has two years and $32 million remaining on his contract. He played through a sprained MCL in the postseason, with mixed results. He drilled the memorable 3-pointer in the face of LeBron James in the Celtics’ Game 5 win in Miami. But the next game? Nine points on 4-of-18 shooting while allowing James to score 45 points.
A healthy Pierce can still bring back a lot in this league, however. Had the Celtics gone through with the rumored Pierce-to-New Jersey trade back in March, they would be looking at the No. 6 overall pick in a seemingly loaded draft.
If Kevin Garnett retires or goes elsewhere, trading Pierce becomes nearly a no-brainer, considering Boston would be in full-fledged rebuilding mode.
Of course, even if Garnett does come back, Ainge would trade the captain if presented with the right deal.
Remember, he’s said so himself. And when have we known Danny to fib?
A look at what the Celtics have going for them:
Paul Pierce 2 years left on $32 million contract. Will be 35 years old in October.
Rajon Rondo Top 15 player in the NBA. Three years left on team-friendly deal.
2012 draft picks Boston owns the 21st and 22nd picks in the 2012 draft, one of which came via the Kendrick Perkins trade.