Danny Ainge, as GMs should, will look at all possibilities to improve the Boston Celtics roster. He will inquire what Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen might fetch at the trade deadline. He will (and has, according to reports) field calls about Paul Pierce’s availability. He will explore what the Celtics could net by trading Rajon Rondo. He has to do those things, and if he trades any of Boston’s core players, it’s business. He’s just trying to make the team better, just trying to operate with an iron heart like the New England Patriots have for the past decade.
But Steve Bulpett cautions that even the most cold-hearted GM would have trouble moving any of the Big Three for the right value. (Boston Herald)
Team president Danny Ainge didn’t want to discuss transactional possibilities yesterday, but league sources who have dealt with the Celtics confirmed that there is not much the club can do to steer out of this skid.
It is more valuable to the Celtics to let their expiring contracts (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen) run out rather than deal them for lesser players who would be on the books beyond this season. In theory, it would help to get away from the $16.8 million Paul Pierce [stats] has coming for 2012-13, while he makes $15.3 million this season.
That means the Celts would have to take back roughly that amount in a trade, and how many teams that would need Pierce to make a run now can offer that much back in expiring deals?
So while you might want Ainge to do something immediately to alter the bad basketball you’ve been watching of late, the truth is the club may be better off riding out the storm the rest of this season.
The thought of Pierce wearing a red jersey, or a blue one, or whatever other color he might wear in the event he is traded from the Celtics, makes me want to slow down time and cherish all these losses. Watching the Celtics begin games by spotting opponents 15 points, fight to make contests close and then ultimately fade down the stretch has been uglier than Ronnie Brewer’s jumper, but at least Pierce is currently competing for the one organization he’s ever known, and at least Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are competing for the organization that adopted them and treated them as its own. There’s something we should appreciate about being able to cheer for these men — our heroes for the past four-plus years (or in Pierce’s case, 13-plus) — even if they can no longer spread their wings, form a ‘V’ and soar well over their opponents’ heads.
There’s not much loyalty in professional sports these days — not from players who force trades to bigger markets, not from GMs who would trade their first-born if it would help bring a championship, not from owners who quickly and Comic Sans-ly turn on departed players — but from an emotional standpoint it would be nice to think that the last two and a half years on Pierce’s contract are unmovable, even if that sets back Boston’s rebuilding process in the meantime.
Objectively, as Jeff Clark writes on CelticsBlog, it’s easy to see why the Celtics would want to move Pierce — he is a 33-year old on the far side of the hill, and he has $30 million remaining on his contract after this season. But on a far more personal level, Pierce has spent 13+ years in Boston, growing from a young boy who shot too much, headbutted with coaches and occasionally partook in immature outbursts, into a players — a man — of whom the entire city can be proud.
Moving him to another team wouldn’t just free cap space and encourage Boston’s rebuilding process — it would callously remove the chance for Boston to provide Pierce with fitting closure to a Hall of Fame career. Think about John Havlicek’s seven-minute standing ovation, which will live in Celtics lore long after everyone forgets the Gerald Green years. What if Red Auerbach had traded Havlicek away for a little more cap space, and Havlicek’s last home game had instead been played in Washington or Portland, in front of a home crowd that couldn’t possibly appreciate him like Boston’s did? How much can a team lose in its quest to win?
Ainge will do whatever he sees fit. He has said for years he will have no problem dealing any of the Big Three when the right time comes. If he does trade Garnett, Allen or Pierce, it could allow the Celtics to forego at least a portion of what could become a painful rebuilding process. There will be reasons for whatever move he makes. Trading Pierce, especially, makes sense from a financial standpoint because his contract extends for years.
But ask yourself what price you would pay to earn the No. 4 seed in 2013. Is THAT worth a second helping of THIS: