Player A: 79 games played, 14.9 FGA, 41.9% FG%, 7.6 reb, 4.1 ast, 2.9 TOV, 17.4 PPG
Player B: 77 games played, 14.2 FGA, 43.6% FG%, 6.3 reb, 4.8 ast, 2.8 TOV, 18.6 PPG
Those are the stats of two Pauls.
Player A is Paul George - the league's next big thing. Player B is Paul Pierce - The Truth.
Yes, I know that George is a superior defender and he has a great future ahead of him and Pierce's best days are in the rear view mirror. But the point here is that Paul Pierce can still play at a high level.
Who else would you find on the open market that would come close to duplicating Pierce's stats without having to give up some serious assets in return? Add in the fact that he's a clutch leader and teacher and everything you'd want in a franchise guy. Oh yeah, and there's the little matter of his legacy as a lifetime Celtic that could be maintained.
Ainge is looking to make the team better. One of his options to do so is by moving Paul Pierce IF the right deal comes along. That doesn't mean he should move him JUST for the sake of "turning the page" and "moving on." If he doesn't get a deal that makes the team considerably better this year and beyond (as was the case at the last deadline) then he won't make it.
Of course, that doesn't mean that all this won't be rung through the rumor mill again. If Pierce is still with the Celtics in training camp, that doesn't guarantee that he will be at the end of the year.
But unless Pierce is included in a deal around draft time, the inclination will be to keep him in Green if there is evidence that decent additions can be made to the roster. And with Pierce heading into the final year of his contract (if the Celts pick up their option), he will still be a valuable commodity in the marketplace as the February 2014 trade deadline nears.
If that's the case, fine. Bring it on. Bring all your rumors but he's on the team until he's not.
I'd prefer to have Paul Pierce retire a Celtic. I'm fine with another bridge year where the kids get more experience and Pierce takes more of a backseat to guys like Green and perhaps Sullinger. It may not produce a long playoff run and it might not get us a lottery pick, but that experience could prove to be invaluable in the future. Don't forget that Pierce spent a lot of days in the first part of his career exiting in the early rounds of the playoffs. He became stronger and hungrier for it.
It might not work out that way but the point is that you don't have to cut bait just because you feel like you need to kickstart the future.
Regardless, Paul Pierce is and always will be our Captain and he'll always be The Truth.