Danny Ainge (and the Celtics) are in a heck of a position. While many would prefer to make a trade for a big name player to put next to Pierce, most don't want to pay the price (Al Jefferson, #5 pick) to do so. In an article where Bulpett shoots down a number of recent rumors, he gets this quote:
A source within the league said the Celtics believe they can compete for the division title with what they have now and what they can add to it. He added that they’re willing to talk about one of their key players if it’s something that could make them contend for the conference - like Jefferson in a Kevin Garnett deal.
"But they’re not going to take on a lot of payroll and cripple themselves financially just to get a little better," the source said.
Maybe the team can compete for the division title with what they have, provided what they have is happy and healthy. However, neither of those prerequisites are certainties right now. Especially the "happy" part.
We've been hearing rumblings for a while now that Pierce will demand to be traded if the Celtics don't make a deal for a big name veteran to put next to him. Peter May talks about it in great detail today.
Pierce won't be happy if the Celtics bring in yet another rookie, however heralded, because, as one league executive noted last week, "Who could they draft at No. 5 that would give them someone better than they already have?" Despite the suggestions of the Celtics that they really, really, really were a playoff team last year, they weren't close.
I think Danny really does disagree with that statement. Right or wrong, I'm sure he thinks they are not too far away from being one of the top 4 or 5 teams in the East. Still, just competing has never been the plan, and just making the playoffs isn't what Pierce has in mind. Everyone wants to go for it all and build for the future at the same time. The problem is that the leverage is running thin right now.
The whole league knows that the Celtics are desperate to make a move right now. They know they ask the moon from the Celtics and maybe just get it. They also know that if they don't work something out with the Celtics, Paul Pierce will come on the market soon. All told, it is just a horrible situation for the Celtics to be in.
On the flipside, they still do hold some of the most valuable trade chips in the league with Theo's expiring contract and the number 5 selection (probably the highest pick that is available at a reasonable price). So we'll see if Danny can get anything done.
Its a little more than a day away from the draft. The time for posturing and smokescreens and leaked rumors is over. Now is the time for action. If Ainge is going to get something done, it will be either in these next 35 hours or after July 1. If he doesn't, we're looking at adding more rookies and an unhappy Paul Pierce.