...is there fire?
I know I told you I'd stop talking about The Rumor, but I'm going to skirt around that by talking about the anatomy of a rumor. I want to see where the smoke is coming from to see if there's enough fire to roast marshmallows with.
Where did it start?
There was an article posted a few months back by Sean Deveney that claimed that Ainge was enamored with Outlaw. There was no rumor beyond that, but he opined that it would make sense for the Blazers and Celtics to talk since the Blazers had a high draft pick. This was before the Blazers won the lottery and got into the top 3. Maybe this was the idea that created the rumor in the first place. You never know.
The earliest mention of the rumor that Chad Ford reported can be found on the RealGM message board. Is this the original source? Perhaps. Is the source credible? Hard to put credibility on anyone on a message board, but he doesn't come across as a kid just making things up.
How did it grow?
A few days later we got a Oregon newspaper reporting that the Blazers were interested in shooting guards and were willing to give up the 3rd pick and NVE's contract. Pierce wasn't mentioned but that made the case that the Blazers were looking for a deal like this. I emailed the author of that story and she only said "I have no information about the Blazers and Boston talking."
Two days later, Chad Ford reported the rumor. Curious to see if Chad got the rumor from me or a message board (thus killing his credibility in my eyes), I emailed and asked him about it. Here was his response:
This was something a number of GMs were talking about in the gym at the Chicago pre-draft camp. Maybe they read your blog. After several of them gave me various accounts of it, I tracked down Danny. That's the nice thing about everyone in the league being here in Chicago.
Personally I have no reason to doubt him. It may be a stretch to say that rival GMs are checking this humble blog for trade rumors, but I think they could have gotten wind of it through any number of message boards that picked up the rumor during that week. Which brings us all back to that original message board rumor.
Once Chad reported it on ESPN, every other outlet you can think of mentioned it - fueling it more and more. Thus creating the smoke. Ainge did what he could to squash it, calling it "ludicrous." Which of course you can interpret either way. Either he's honestly baffled by it, or he's upset that the info got leaked before he can finish the deal (no way the trade would happen before draft night as Portland would wait to see if Bogut or Williams slipped to 3).
Finally, we get word from Peter Vescey that the source of the leak is Wallace's agent Warren LeGarie, who also happens to represent the Portland GM, John Nash. Questions abound. Why would Ainge use Wallace's agent to get the word there. Is he trying to get around the stigma of "shopping" Paul Pierce? Are we getting the end result of a game of telephone (where the original story is 6 degrees separated from the one that comes out)? Then there's the credibility of Vescey himself. Do you trust his word more or less than a random guy off the message board?
When does a rumor become more than a rumor?
Now it would seem that even Paul Pierce was listening when his name was dropped by Chad and the rest of the scribes. If Shira's source can be believed, he wanted to make it clear that he wouldn't be reporting to Porland if the rumor was indeed true.
Its possible that this rumor (true, false, or somewhere in between) has chilled the relationship between Paul and the organization even more than what it apparently was to begin with. Stronger ties have been broken by smaller things. Still, Paul is a professional and he understands this business. There's nothing the organization can do about rumors. Except maybe look long and hard at Chris Wallace and his agent.
So what's the bottom line?
We have a reporter's idea, a message board guy's source, a bunch of GM's discussing, a strong denial by Ainge, and a report by Peter Vescey. Is that enough smoke to prove that there's a fire? In my opinion, no. It wouldn't hold up in any court of law. But in the "court of public opinion," its enough to get the Celtics fans to mentally prepare for life without Paul Pierce. Who knows, maybe that's exactly what the Celtics want.