You gotta love this time of year. Perception changes every 48 hours. Or in the case of Kobe it's closer to every 48 minutes but I still don't think he's going anywhere.
It wasn't long ago when I was cautiously optimistic that we might have our choice of Jermaine O'Neal, Paul Gasol, or Kevin Garnett. Now O'Neal is likely going to the Lakers, Gasol has a coach he's happy with (Iavaroni), and Garnett was a long shot to begin with. Maybe nothing has really changed. I was probably setting my hopes too high (again - you'd think I'd learn), or perhaps we still do have a shot at all 3 guys. Nobody really knows. Maybe not even Ainge.
So what if those big three really are off the market? Who else is available? Kidd only has about 2 years left in the tank. Rashard Lewis is talented but is widely considered a step below the stars mentioned so far. I'm beginning to wonder if the biggest available name that might be left on the market is our own Paul Pierce.
I went over the reasons why Pierce won't be traded. Of course, I must totally contradict myself and toss out that old cliché of "you can never say never," especially in a market like this. As ESPN reminds us on a daily basis, Pierce's age doesn't make him a good fit if we are going to keep building with young players through the draft. So if Ainge can't turn some of his assets into a veteran star, is it really worth it to go after the B-class veterans?
Or should he take his most valuable asset and see what he can get for Pierce?
I still am against the idea of trading Pierce as the first option. However, Ainge and the Celtics have to prepare for every scenario. You never know what events could shift the landscape of the offseason once again. The Celtics would be foolish if they didn't at least consider what they would want to get in return for Pierce. That leads us directly to the only relevant question:
What Could We Get For Pierce?
Typically when I look around the league I don't see many reasonable deals I'd be happy with. Some teams like the Heat would love to have a player like Pierce but don't have much to offer in return. Some teams like Phoenix are looking to cut costs and have no room for Pierce under the cap. Even if a team had lots of talented young players, picks, and cap flexibility, trading for Pierce would likely put them in the same position we've been in for the last two years.
On the other hand, I don't think I've been creative enough. People come up with trade ideas every day on the internet and some of them are even halfway decent. I think there is a saying about putting monkeys in a room with typewriters and given enough time they'll write Shakespeare - well, that's the Internet right there! No offense.
The flood of Kobe trade ideas that sprang out of the woodwork last week opened my eyes to some possibilities. Certainly Pierce is a step or two (or three even) behind Kobe. But they play the same position and they can put up points for anyone. Teams that started salivating over Kobe may turn their eyes to Pierce as a good consolation prize.
Chicago is one place that could really use a guy to take the big shots and be a leader on offense. Pierce would fit the bill beautifully. A year ago we might have gotten Deng, Gordon, and a decent pick for Pierce. Now we'd be lucky to get Deng and filler, but depending on what the filler is, it may be worth it.
Dallas is another team with deep pockets and great talent that may want another horse to take some of the pressure off of Dirk. Could we get Josh Howard and Jason Terry for Pierce?
My favorite idea, however, would be sending Pierce to Indy for Jermaine O'Neal straight up (Telfair could even up the salaries). The Pacers need a fresh start but don't want to take a big step back with Jim O'Brien focused on the playoffs. Why not reunite him with his old pupil? I like Pierce better than O'Neal but you'd be trading small for big and offense for defense. Pierce plays a position that is much easier to fill. In fact, you'd still have Theo's contract and the pick that you could use to go out and get someone like Shawn Marion, Rashard Lewis, Joe Johnson or maybe Ray Allen. If that doesn't work out, you could still draft Corey Brewer or Yi Jianlian and let them compete with Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, and Tony Allen to fill in the wing positions.
I'll stop there because I know how annoying it can be to read these kinds of vague concepts that don't really work in the trade checker and need several other players to match up. Besides, that is what the Trade Ideas forum is for. The point here is that there would be a market out there for Pierce and the team shouldn't dismiss the concept outright. They have to keep all their options open.
Again, option one is to put a star player next to Pierce and Jefferson and see what they can do. That has been the plan for a while now. If it looks like that plan won't work out, then exploring Pierce trades is a viable option.