Rumor: If Paul Pierce goes, Josh Smith might take his place

Kevin C. Cox

With June 30th fast approaching, a decision on Paul Pierce's future and the possible end of his 15-year career as a Celtic is on the horizon. Sean Deveney of Sporting News is reporting that his replacement might be just a trade exception away.

There are several trade rumors swirling around Paul Pierce right now with most of them involving draft picks. That seems like a pittance for a 10-time All Star and former Finals MVP, but the biggest asset coming out of those deals aren't the picks, but the TPE that it would create. A traded player exception has a shelf life of one year, but it looks like Danny might be is looking to spend it right away:

NBA Draft Source: Celtics have their Josh Smith sign-and-trade offer read

Smith has long been connected to Boston in trade rumors, including one that would have sent Pierce to Atlanta in February. His link to the current Celtics dates back to high school, when he played with point guard Rajon Rondo at Oak Hill.

In order to land Smith, though, the Celtics need to pull off a deal for Pierce that will net them a trade exception. Because teams over the salary cap can't take on salary without sending back matching salaries, Boston's options are limited to teams under the cap. That's why two teams that have been connected to a Pierce deal have been Cleveland and Milwaukee.

Love him or hate him, Josh Smith is a player. Entering the prime of his career at 27, he averaged almost 18/8/4 in the final year of his contract in Atlanta. Last summer, he joined the Celtics in LA for pre-season workouts, due mainly to his friendship with Rajon Rondo. He's a pogo stick in a bull's body, but the biggest question is whether or not he's a franchise player. His shot selection leaves a little to be desired, but paired with a pass-first PG, that could definitely change in Boston. If KG decides to close out his career in green, he could do wonders tutoring Smoove in the Celtic way.

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