What Pierce's contract could net in return

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Paul Pierce can still play. There's never been a question about that, but at this point of his career and the luxury tax of the new CBA looming, what his contract is worth off the court might be worth more than he is in the box score.

18 points on 45 FG%, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists.

That's what Paul Pierce averaged after Rajon Rondo went down with his ACL tear. By comparison, only LeBron James, the league MVP, averaged over 18/7/6 this season (with Kobe Bryant grabbing a shade under six rebounds a game). That's pretty good company for the 35-year-old.

But sadly, Pierce's time in a Celtic uniform could be over. Greg Dickerson thinks so and based on The Captain's comments during the playoff run, that Game 6 loss to the Knicks could be the final chapter for #34. I hate the idea of PP being so unceremoniously shown the door, but this is the ugly side of basketball as a business that we have to face.

With that said, Ben Watanabe of NESN brings up an interesting angle to Pierce's contract and the timing of when Danny needs to make a decision:

As a taxpaying team, the Celtics could trade away Pierce's $15.3 million and get back an amount equal to 125 percent of his outgoing salary, plus $100,000, under the CBA. (They would not be able to actually add the full $19.2 million, based on my math, because that would put them over the $74.3 million luxury tax "apron" at which they are hard-capped as a result of using the mid-level exception on Jason Terry.) The Celtics have 10 players under contract for next season, not counting Pierce or draft picks, which means they can acquire up to five players for roughly Pierce's $15 million. The team that acquires Pierce, provided it does so before June 30, can turn around and buy him out for $5 million.

Just like that, the other team has rid itself of about 30 percent of the current salary cap for a third of the cost. Suddenly, the market for Pierce does not look so limited.

So, there's that June 30th deadline but another date to keep in mind is June 27th. That's draft day. There has been some thought of running it back with the virtually the same roster next year and waiting to deal Pierce and Garnett before next season's trade deadline when talks really heat up, but if Danny decides to explore Watanabe's idea, what could he get in the next six weeks? Here are a few ideas (that don't include packaging him with another player), specifically from teams who are looking to slash payroll before hitting the luxury tax next year by trading for Pierce and buying him out for $5 million:

Gerald Wallace, Mirza Teletovic, and Reggie Evans/MarShon Brooks from the Brooklyn Nets: Gerald Wallace has not panned out in Brooklyn, but his athleticism and defense first mentality could be a fit in Boston. The Celtics have flirted with Evans in the past and he certainly could solve their rebounding woes.

Arron Afflalo and Glen Davis from the Orlando Magic: Could a Big Baby reunion in Boston work after signing Brandon Bass to a long term deal? Afflalo is another defensive stud, but he'd be joining an already crowded back court.

Carlos Boozer from the Chicago Bulls: Boozer has avoided the amnesty axe for two seasons now, but trading for Pierce's contract could allow them to save some cash.

Wilson Chandler, Andre Miller, and Kosta Koufos from the Denver Nuggets: If Andre Iguodala tests the free agency market this summer but decides to stay in the Mile High City, look for Denver to shed some salary this summer. With Evan Fournier and Kenneth Faried outperforming their rookie contracts and Corey Brewer wanting to re-sign, Chandler, Miller, and Koufos could be expendable. For the Celtics, those three players fill dire needs: a back-up PG and a big man.

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