As a Celtics fan living in LA, I revel in what's happening to the Lakers right now. Since firing Mike Brown, flirting with Phil Jackson, and settling on Mike D'Antoni, they're 3-5, losing games to the Magic at Staples (Baby!), Sacramento, and last night coughing up a 17-point lead in Houston. Dwight's missing free throws down the stretch, Nash is out indefinitely, and Pau Gasol is resting his knees. Officially, the Spaniard is out with tendinitis, but rumors are swirly in Lalaland that if he doesn't adjust to D'Antoni's system, Mitch Kupchak will have no choice but to look for trade partners.
The Celtics have been linked to Gasol before. Remember last year when he was linked with Rondo? That rumor ended up being completely false and a trade for #9 could never happen now, but with the team currently underperforming and Danny and Doc considering bringing in Erick Dampier for a "workout," the blogosphere is abound with trade ideas. As much as it seems sacrilegious for the Lakers and Celtics to swap players, it makes sense. Los Angeles is looking to fill out its roster in the mold of D'Antoni's seven-seconds-or-less system and Boston has been trying to fill its Kendrick Perkins-sized hole for the last two years.
The popular idea has Gasol in green for some combination of Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, and Courtney Lee (a trade that couldn't be consummated until January 15th anyway). Our frenemies at Silver Screen And Roll suggested this deal:
Why the Lakers...wouldn't do this: Besides the rising tidal wave of vomit overtaking the San Fernando Valley from seeing Pau in Celtic Green and helping solidify the 2013 C's into a title contender? Jeff Green, he of a 9/3 and a staggering 11 PER, is an owner of one of the worst contracts, if not the worst, in the NBA. He's owed just around $36 million dollars to do...something, but what exactly, I'm not yet sure. I can't say for sure what void he'd fill for the Lakers, because after six seasons, I'm still not sure what he does basketball-wise.
The prize for LA here would be the sweet shooting mid-range jumper of Brandon Bass, and the instant, bench-ready offense from JET. In addition, Terry can handle back-up point guard duties if needed, though he's much better as an off-ball offensive player.
This deal benefits both teams, as the Celtics need a more reliable player to man the low post to pair with Garnett's high post shooting. However, Green's awful deal really clinches the Lakers saying no. If the Celtics make a move in-season, it'd be to rid themselves of an already horrible looking contract they just signed this past summer, as well as needing that dollar figure to make the trade work.
The bonus deal-breaker here is that as much as basketball teams don't care about rivalries, these two teams do. I can't see Dr. Buss, as well as Wyc Grousbeck and GM Danny Ainge completing a deal that, while flawed, would greatly benefit both teams.
As much as I disagree with them on JG, this deal doesn't happen because it absolutely guts our team of three contributors for a gimpy Gasol. No way. Not discounting Gasol's health, but what makes Pau almost untouchable for any potential dance partner is his contract under the old CBA. He's making $19 million each of the next two years; he wasn't a max contract player then and he's certainly not a max contract player now. The Lakers will be hard pressed to find a team willing to give up young athletic players for an aging player that will take up 1/3rd of their salary cap.
Unless, of course, you can find a team that has a player similar to Gasol in contract and performance based on the contract. Enter Paul Pierce.
His last extension pays him almost $17 million this year and $15 million next season (non-guaranteed). That puts him a filler away from making a deal with the Lakers. He can shoot from the perimeter, drive to the cup, and is from the area. He's not the prototypical athlete that D'Antoni is looking for, but neither is Gasol in street clothes. For the Celtics, if Green is truly the heir apparent to Pierce at the small forward position, there's no better time than the now to see if he's worth the $38 million, 4-year deal. And if that doesn't work, Danny would still retain the pieces in order to make a deal for Josh Smith.
However, in one of my first posts for the blog, I wrote that Paul Pierce should retire a Celtic and I still believe that today. Right now, he's underperforming, shooting only 41.8% from the field. I think a lot of that can be attributed to him forcing the issue a lot. With the team struggling, he's doing what every good captain tries to do: steer the ship in the right direction. Unfortunately, he's not that player anymore, but as soon as Doc can get everybody on the same page, Pierce will round back into form. Just don't be surprised if Pierce's name comes up on December 15th.