This tidbit was buried in Ken Berger’s latest column over at CBSSports.com, but in what will undoubtably be an active trade season for many veterans in the NBA over the next month plus, Paul Pierce may yet again find himself available for the right price:
Team executives involved in exploratory trade talks report that the Knicks (Amar’e Stoudemire), Lakers (Pau Gasol), Raptors (Bargnani) and Celtics (Paul Pierce) are open to discussing their high-profile names. In every case but one, the early indications are that none could be moved without a bad contract going back in return. (In Stoudemire’s case, his health and the $45 million left on his contract after this season almost certainly will prevent any deal from happening.) The lone exception, executives say, may be Pierce, whose ruthless scoring prowess and championship experience come with another attractive feature: only $4 million of his $15.3 million salary is guaranteed next season. With the Celtics playing better since Avery Bradley returned from injury, president Danny Ainge once again finds himself trying to determine whether the remnants of the 2007-08 championship team have enough to make one more run. Some rival executives believe the Celtics recently waived Jarvis Varnado and Kris Joseph to create roster flexibility for a potential trade. If Ainge decides to stand pat, a deal involving Pierce — which would mark the true end of the Big Three era — could be re-examined around the draft or during free agency.
A few notable things to take out of this report.
1) Pierce is playing about just as well as ever. His contract situation makes him incredibly valuable to nearly any contender at this point. With that said, he’s just as valuable to the C’s right now. Lumping him in with the Gasols and Stoudemires of the world should not be done.
2) Pierce for Rudy Gay is not a good deal for the C’s. Gay is on a ugly contract and while he may do a lot of things better than Pierce, being a more efficient offensive weapons is not one of them.
3) I put the odds of Pierce getting dealt at less than five percent, especially if the C’s continue to round back into form. We know Ainge well enough by know to realize he’s always going to listen to offers. That’s his job. Chances are though he’s going to have to be bowled over with a player or (players) that improves the C’s chances of winning both right now and the future.
With that said, we’ll have many more thoughts on Pierce coming this weekend.