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Shedding Some Light on the Trade Rumor Game

With the recent report by David Aldridge coming out that Pierce may request a trade in the offseason, it may be relevant to review the facts available as we know them and provide some insight into how the process of NBA business works when it comes to utilizing the media to spread information.

Let me see if I can shed a bit more light onto this information flow...

  • Pierce had publically stated his desire for veteran help and his sense of his own NBA Mortality...
  • Management has stated its goal of building around Pierce by trading assets...
  • Ainge has recently re-iterated his statements about Pierce as well as his intentions and enthusiasm for going into this offseason under the same auspices as last year.
  • Pierce's agent has stipulated that the team has to do something substantial and that Pierce is actively looking to be a part of something greater going into this offseason and would essentially be open to moving if it wasn't in Boston.
  • Rumors have circulated about the team gauging Pierce's value on the market as well as this new rumor of Pierce possibly requesting a trade this offseason...
  • The market will be flooded with top talent this offseason making high-end talent availability great as well as depressing the market for acquisition due to volume of players available and teams that have the assets and environment to accommodate these trades.

Without something more substantial from Aldridge, I'm figuring this is a logical assumption by Aldridge supplemented possibly by some back channel info from Pierce's camp in order to stimulate some public buzz and effect some action from management's side.

Seeing how Pierce has gone through this for four season's now, and just last season re-signed for max money, my guess is that he'll give the club a full offseason to work the market and then will look to be moved before the trade deadline if he's not satisfied with the team's progress.

It's highly unlikely that Pierce is going to ask out a year after being convinced of Ainge's strategy. That understanding isn't open-ended, but Pierce is aware of the team's assets and also knows that this offseason will have plenty of activity.

Considering the volume of potentially available players that fit the criteria for the type of "star" player Ainge was looking to acquire last summer when Pierce agreed to stay on, it seems that Pierce would most likely understand that this is offseason there is a better opportunity for exactly what he wanted going into this year.

There has been some speculation into how the league values the Celtics current assets. Despite the poor record overall, most scouts recognize the personal growth of the individual talents on this team. They are paid to measure ability and execution, not judge based off of Win/Loss records. While the mistakes latent in these young players are certainly a metric in determining player value, the focus for scouts watching players with the experience level of the young Celtics prospects is mainly on physical execution on a play-by-play basis. They are charting efficiencies and success in a minute environment to calculate ability and potential.

It is widely accepted around league circles that the Celtics have some valuable youth, but the specific value has differed from Ainge’s personal valuation. But the increase in player valuation for the young Celtics and the depression of the trade market this offseason should go a long way toward bolstering the Celtics position for making deals going forward.

Ownership and management have been very communicative with Pierce in the past and they are clearly aware of their position going into this offseason, so I’d expect Pierce to be a part of this process going forward, not sitting around and forcing ultimatums without analyzing his options.

Pierce did as much two season’s ago when he first had thoughts of leaving after the Indiana Pacers series. The market for Pierce himself isn’t going to be as expansive as it may have been in prior years because of his contract, his recent injury, and the availability of other options on the market.

Quality organizations typically share this type of transparency with their focal point players when moves of significance are in play. That’s why the Kevin Garnett’s, Jermain O’neal’s, and Jason Kidd’s enjoy the ability to dialogue with their employers and figure out solutions to their needs collaboratively.

Not all organizations handle these in-house issues like this. The recent examples of Vince Carter and Baron Davis are proof of what can go wrong without this transparency and communication, but the Celtics have displayed that they follow in the former category rather than the latter.

Like any diligent business, the organization has surely gamed out scenarios for what happens if they cannot come to an equitable agreement with any of the other teams offering their players. This is probably where the rumors of Pierce being shopped stemmed from. Gauging market value is a necessary part of contingency planning.

But based off of the various streams of information we have at our disposal and considering the leverage and circumstances surrounding the principles involved in the situation, its probable that the team has the ability to control Pierce’s satisfaction with the situation predicated on the way they approach this offseason.

Reactionary panic is normal, but hardly substantiated by the situational parameters surrounding its inception.