Danny Ainge's comments and actions seem to indicate that he'd like to find a way to trade Paul Pierce and move on with the next era of Celtics basketball. Maybe I'm reading too much into his comments yesterday, but he said his first decision would likely be to decide what to do with Paul Pierce (after a lot of "discussions" with all the parties involved). He also said that he expects Pierce to play and and that the Celtics were more than one player away from a Championship.
Also, go back to the last trade deadline and you'll find that he was pretty close to moving Paul Pierce to the Mavericks - as outlined by Wojo (and hat tip to the forums poster "chambers" that unearthed this article from back in early March).
In a three-way deal that would've secured Josh Smith and surrendered Paul Pierce to Dallas, Atlanta wanted Boston's first-round draft pick, too. The Celtics were in talks to send Paul Pierce to Dallas at the trade deadline. (AP)As much as any of the proposed deals discussed in February, perhaps this had been the closest Pierce had come to parting with the Celtics, sources told Yahoo! Sports. Dallas had constructed a package that included Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and Dahntay Jones to Atlanta, with the Mavericks and Hawks exchanging positions in the 2013 NBA draft. Nevertheless, Boston wouldn't relent on the pick and the deal died on meeting-room grease boards in three cities.
So apparently that deal fell through in part because of the draft pick. I have to wonder how much of it also hinged on the KG deal that apparently the Clippers pushed away from the table on (per Bulpett).
Add it all up and I don't think it is too big of a stretch to wonder if all the parties might be interested in talking again.
Atlanta never traded Josh Smith and he's a free agent to be this summer. You get the feeling that the Hawks and Smith appear to be eager to move on, but Josh would like to get the most money possible - so a sign and trade makes sense as long as big contracts aren't coming back to Atlanta (so they can maintain the cap flexibility they worked so hard on). They will make a push for Dwight Howard and maybe even Chris Paul.
Dallas has lots of cap space too, and will also likely push for Dwight Howard and/or Chris Paul. But the chances of either player going anywhere is highly in doubt and if they re-sign or sign elsewhere, both teams may seek a plan B. Perhaps Dallas would be interested in a year of Paul Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki playing along side each other.
You could still conduct a three way sign-and-trade sending Josh Smith to the Celtics, Paul Pierce to Dallas, and whatever the Hawks want back from Dallas. The Mavs can take back more salary than they send out because they are under the cap and the Hawks would get the added benefit of getting a trade exception to use in the next year. Picks might be part of this and the cap particulars would be complex*, but I believe it could be an option.
On a similar vein, the Mavs might indeed want to clear max cap space by making a similar trade - sending matching salaries out and waiving Paul Pierce for the $10M in cap savings. That might be more difficult to pull off if the Hawks don't want their pieces but it sounds like it was close at the deadline.
A lot of complicated factors have to go into something like this happening, but you can bet that a lot of scenarios like this is at least being discussed internally, if not on the cell phones between teams. Get ready for a long summer of rumors and ideas like this. In particular as the draft approaches. Note: The Celtics have to make a decision on Paul Pierce's contract by the end of June, so timing could be very critical in this.
I know that the topic of Josh Smith is a huge debate among fans. Obviously the topic of trading Paul Pierce is also a huge subject of interest with Celtics fans. Reports suggest that Danny was ready to make that swap at the right price a few months ago. So will he revisit that move again? What do you think?
*Note: Red's Army suggests that the Celtics would likely have to make another move prior to this, shaving 2-3M off the books in order to get under the cap "apron." I don't understand all this but see here for details. Obviously this is pretty complex, so see your local capologist for further details.