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Last Days?

Like it or not, the odds on Paul Pierce finishing his career as a Boston Celtic are getting longer by the day. Just look at the writing on the wall.

You can go back as far as the day Ainge took over. He was critical of Walker and Pierce as an announcer, so people could sense that something was up. (Correction, he was mostly critical of Walker, but also of the C's style of play in general. I don't think he ever said anything directly dismissive about Paul) Walker was dealt, Pierce was not. Was that a vote of confidence or a 2 year try out? Maybe he hasn't passed the test and Danny is ready to move on.

More signs are the constant rumors that have been circulating since last year's trading deadline. Since Ainge has made it known that nobody is untouchable, Pierce has had to see his name be linked to deals involving Ray Allen (deadline), the 3rd pick in the draft (the Portland rumor), and now Bonzi Wells (of all people). I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting, but those are the big ones that pop into my head. If these are the ones we know about; just how many times do you think Paul has been discussed that we don't know about?

Given the youthful direction the team is taking, it might not even make sense to keep Paul around for too long. If he was a lunchpail worker who never griped and simply went about his business, he might be the perfect guy to hold the fort and bridge the gap until the Jefferson/Green era took full effect. Instead, since he is an emotional, proud, and somewhat needy star, he's not too keen on accepting a rebuilding year or two.

As a Paul Pierce fan, I hate all of this. I love the fact that he can score with anyone in the league. I really love that he does it by driving the lane and getting to the line - thus getting free points and putting the other team at a disadvantage. I love that he rebounds as well as any guard/forward in the league. I love that he is an exceptional passer. All these things make him very valuable to this team (and very attractive to other teams).

But even as a fan of his work, I understand and admit that he's got his share of issues. Regardless of what his friend Antoine might say, he'll never be a true team leader. He can be "a" leader, but not "the" leader. He needs what some call an alpha dog to go alongside. Call it the Scottie Pippen syndrome. He is also too moody for his own good. It effects his game when he's complaining to refs, defying his coach, and generally sulking when things don't go his way. I've never heard of him being a bad treammate, but indirectly these things can't help the team dynamic. The painful way the playoffs ended (Pierce's ejection, the 7th game collapse) served as an illustration for all that is wrong with Paul. Basically it was the chance for all of Pierce's critics to say, "See! This is what I'm talking about!"

So he has his strengths and weaknesses. He's a very valuable player. I guess it is just a question of "how valuable?" When the value that is offered in trade reaches a point that is higher than where Danny values him for this team, then he will have played his last game as a Celtic. That could happen this offseason, this season, or perhaps a long time from now. However, signs continue to point to a Celtics future without number 34 in the starting lineup.

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