I once remarked the the Los Angeles Clippers is fast becoming my third most hated team (right after Miami and the Lakers) after the very persistent rumors that their organization (a.k.a Chris Paul) was vigorously pursuing Kevin Garnett. Now they are apparently at it again with this latest post from Celticslife blog below:
As much as I'm a Paul Pierce fan and it would be depressing to see him in another uniform I would like to approach this with an open mind. What could the Clippers offer that would make trading Paul Pierce make sense? From a cap perspective Paul Pierce makes around $16.8 and so the Clippers must send a package within that range. So in my mind these are the top candidates that the Celtics should trade for.
Deandre Jordan (C) - half of the dynamic dunking duo of the LA Clippers. At 6'11", 250 pounds, he is physically imposing and a good rim protector. He averages 13 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.9 block shots per 36 minutes. However he only averages 24.3 minutes per game despite being a starter primarily because I think he is a liability at the offensive end having limited to no straight up post up moves. His free throw shooting is also attrocious at 39.1%. But why would this make sense? Since Kendrick Perkins was traded to OKC, the Celtics needed that enforcer down low and a rebounding beast. Deandre Jordan can fill that gap. Another key reason would be it would allow the Celtics to move Kevin Garnett to the 4th spot. Now I know what you think, KG moves when Paul Pierce moves. That has always been the popular notion - but we'll never really know for sure. So assuming KG doesn't move this will be tantalizing as KG moves back to his natural position and given his minutes rationing, Jared Sullinger would be given a lot of minutes to play off the bench and develop him further. If KG is moved or retires, I still think that Sullinger can take the starting PF position and have Bass/Shavlik come off the bench. This move makes the rebounding weakness of the C's a thing of the pass.
Eric Bledsoe (PG) - the dynamic back up point guard of the LA Clippers stands 6'1" 190 pounds. If he is traded to Celtics next season, he will have a year left in his contract and the Celtics could decide to resign him or let him go. Per 36 minutes he is averaging 15.2 minutes, 5.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds. Out of all of the assets the Clippers can offer he is one that intrigues me the most. He has a good outside game and is explosive in going to the rim. He has an offensive rating same as Rondo's (R 103, B 103) and has a slightly better defensive rating (R 102, B, 101) and he's still 23 years old. He will be the (1) a great back up to Rondo and (2) a good replacement for him should we decide to move Rondo out by the time Bledsoe needs to be resigned.
Grant Hill (SF) - He has said he contemplates retiring at the end of the season. Trading his contract would save the C's $2M.
Caron Butler (SF) - His contract comes at a hefty $8 million dollars. Should we trade Pierce we need a good back up SF for Jeff Green. Per 36 minutes he is averaging 15.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists. As a back up he would be serviceable and by the time he is traded to the Celtics he will have only a year left in his contract. Personally, I don't like this guy. I think he is a mean spirited competitor as epitomized by this antic:
So what would be my ideal trade? It would be a package of Deandre Jordan + Eric Bledsoe + Grant Hill for ($14.2 million). Assuming Grant Hill retires the C's would have saved 4.6 million from this trade while acquiring two potential key contributors to a rebuilding Celtics team. It would be sweeter if the Clippers take one of back up guards either in Jordan Crawford and Twill and give us a draft pick in return but that might be stretching the scenario.
The immediate impact to the C's would be they need to trade one or two of our guards and Brandon Bass (should KG not retire) to optimize the roster. Perhaps through this trade we can acquire a more suitable back up SF than Caron Butler. Long term wise the C's would need to decide if they want to keep Rajon Rondo or spin him for another all star or superstar but let's see how it goes first with Bledsoe.
Now you might ask me will should the C's pull the trigger on Paul Pierce if the C's were offered the package I cited above? My answer would be yes they should. Even if the C's win the championship this year (through wishful thinking) that doesn't change the view for me that the Celtics would be better off starting to position themselves better for the future. KG would probably have 2 years left of him and having Deandre Jordan helps the C's address the gap at center. We can only hope Sullinger develops his outside game to help spread the floor. Paul Pierce might claim he has 3 - 4 years more off him. If that is true, good for him, but those 3 - 4 years with the C's will be fraught with uncertainty and I think the C's, as an organization, will be better served by having a clearer direction going forward.
This trade I think is a win win for both organizations. The Clippers get their own version of the big 4 and that could translate to a playoff success plus maybe a championship and who wouldn't want PP with another ring? The Celtics also address their weakness in interior defense and rebounding and get to position themselves a lot better for multiple title runs. Trading Paul Pierce might be better sweet but for all the emotional distraught it would give, let us remember this trade will never tarnish his legacy with the C's. His jersey will still be retired in Boston and we can all look back and reminisce on all the better memories.