The Boston Celtics are trying (rather aggressively, if you believe the rumors) to acquire Chris Paul. But I believe there must be something bigger at play, something bigger even than Chris Paul, even if that “something bigger” seems far-fetched and improbable and very much Dwight Howard.
On the surface, trading Rajon Rondo for Chris Paul does not make sense. I certainly believe the Celtics would make the deal — making a trade to upgrade a position normally makes a whole lot of sense, especially when the upgrade doubles as the world’s best point guard — but it’s impossible to ignore the element of selling Paul on Boston, since he would need to sign an extension with the C’s to make any deal feasible. That means Danny Ainge would need to sell Paul on Boston’s murky future, a future that (right now, at least) involves rebuilding with a relatively bare cupboard, or a cupboard that might include Glen Davis and/or Jeff Green as cornerstones. Ainge might as well try selling hair gel to Ray Allen.
Yet there are so many rumors there has to be some truth. Sam Amick says Ainge is “highly motivated” to obtain Paul. Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Celtics are looking for a third team (possibly the Indiana Pacers) to make the trade more doable. John Hollinger listed Boston as one of Paul’s most likely destinations. Where there is smoke, there is normally fire, and in this case, it seems the flames are growing large enough to engulf an entire city. It’s safe to assume that Ainge is desperately (or at least quite actively) pursuing Chris Paul. Which again begs the question: How will Ainge convince Paul to sign an extension with Boston?
He won’t convince Paul by hyping the weather, unless Paul enjoys winter mittens and snow storms. He won’t convince Paul by waxing poetically about Boston’s future prospects, unless Paul enjoys the stench of uncertainty. He might try convincing Paul by selling Doc Rivers’ new five-year contract, but even Doc’s sterling reputation as a players’ coach probably isn’t enough to overturn the pulls currently working against Boston, pulls that have always precluded Boston from signing superstar free agents in the past. No, if Ainge sells Chris Paul on Boston, he is selling him on a complete vision for the future, one that would need to include Doc Rivers, All-Star teammates and, most importantly, the ability to compete for championships every season.
Ainge must be trying to acquire Paul, then turn around and swipe Dwight Howard from Orlando. There’s no other explanation I can think of that could lead to Paul landing in Boston, or at least no explanation that makes sense. The possibility of teaming with Howard is the only sweetener that would make Boston appetizing enough for Paul to consider overlooking his reported love affair with Carmelo Anthony and New York City. I understand fully I probably sound like an irrational, overly optimistic fan boy right now — “AHHHH!!! CHRIS PAUL AND DWIGHT HOWARD!!!!!!” But is there anything else that could make Paul consider committing to Boston long-term?
There are ways teaming them both together is possible. If the Celtics trade Rondo for Paul, they will still have assets (namely: two 2012 draft picks, sign-and-trade rights to Glen Davis and Jeff Green, and a slew of expiring contracts) to throw at Orlando. That doesn’t mean any of these acquisitions are probable: more likely, Ainge swings and misses on Paul, Howard goes to the Lakers and Ainge goes back to wishing he never traded for Jeff Green. But turning a pu-pu platter into Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett (and ultimately a 17th banner) didn’t seem probable either. Anything is possible.
Trading for Chris Paul alone just doesn’t make sense. Ainge is planning a coup to extend Boston’s window of opportunity indefinitely. Let’s just hope it works out like 2007.