Boston Celtics: 7 Potential Trade Suitors for Paul Pierce
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The "What Will the Celtics do Now???" train is full steam ahead in the days following their dismissal from the NBA playoffs last Saturday, with most of the attention being paid to free agents Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
But what about the captain?
The latter option seems unlikely given the amount of money he's owed in 2012-2013. But the C's, if they commit to full-on rebuilding mode, could look to move him this summer.
If that's the path they choose to take, there will likely be no shortage of potential suitors.
Here's a few possibilities.
1. Houston Rockets
McHale's Celtics' ties could entice the Rockets to chase Pierce.
The Rockets are in NBA purgatory, not good enough to make the playoffs (they haven't been there since 2008-2009), not bad enough to sniff the top of the lottery (they pick 14th this year, right near the bottom of the non postseason group).
They need to do something.
Hoopsworld has them as a potential sleeper team on the lookout for an impact 3-man, stating that Houston "has made overtures to the Philadelphia 76ers about Andre Iguodala and the Indiana Pacers about Danny Granger."
What about Pierce? He'd essentially be a one-year rental, with his contract coming off the books after the upcoming season. He can still shoot and score when healthy despite not being as young or athletic as the likes of Granger or Iguodala. And the Rockets are coached by Kevin McHale—a former Celtic with very close ties to C's GM Danny Ainge (see KG to the Celts from Minnesota in July, 2007).
It's a bit of a long shot. But it could make sense for the Rockets.
2. Toronto Raptors
Bargnani and the Raptors are looking for scoring help on the wing.
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Like the Rockets, the Raptors are apparently in the market for a small forward, and though there's no evidence that Pierce's name has come up in their conversations, he still could be made available.
Again, Hoopsworld has the skinny on Toronto, noting that the NBA's only Canadian franchise "aggressively" has its eye on players like Iguodala, Sacramento's Tyreke Evans, and perhaps, even Memphis's Rudy Gay.
Pierce's name is nowhere to be found in this piece, but he's a small forward and would come more cheaply than either Iguodala or Gay given his contract status.
3. Sacramento Kings
Evans could come back to Boston in a potential trade for Pierce.
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Ainge himself was sent packing to California's state capital. Would he ship Pierce out there as well?
Probably not. But if the Kings are serious about moving Evans, it's not out of the realm of possibility that they'd take a look at Pierce.
Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated says the Kings are enthralled with Florida 2-guard Bradley Beal at No. 5 in the upcoming draft. Someone like Beal would probably necessitate moving Evans, as the Kings already have wing scorers like Marcus Thornton and John Salmons, both of whom make pretty good money.
But if the Kings go big in an effort to bolster their frontcourt alongside DeMarcus Cousins and still choose to move Evans, Pierce becomes a more appealing option, especially because again, he'd be off the books after just one year.
And maybe, just maybe, if this is something the C's are interested in, they could take Evans, a super-talented, athletic scorer and former Rookie of the Year, in exchange.
4. Golden State Warriors
If the Warriors are indeed looking for a 3, Jackson would probably relish the chance to coach Pierce.
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You won't believe this, but there's another team on the hunt for a small forward.
That's right, the Golden State Warriors, owners of four picks in the draft, including No. 7, are willing to make a deal with some of those if they can get a "proven upgrade" at small forward, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Warriors writer Rusty Simmons says Iguodala and Gay are at the top of Golden State's list, but money is an issue. Pierce will make a truckload of cash in '12-'13, but again, given the time remaining on his deal, it may be easier for any team acquiring him to make the kind of arrangements necessary to bring in the Truth.
There are also rumors afoot that the Warriors may be looking to draft Kentucky's Terrence Jones with the seventh pick, and that would probably preclude them from dealing for a 3-man.
5. Memphis Grizzlies
Some reports have Gay wanting out of Memphis.
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If you believe our good friends at Hoopsworld, Gay is unhappy with the direction the Grizzlies are taking and wants out.
Feel free to take your time wondering how someone could be unhappy making maximum dollars for a young, exciting, up-and-coming team like Memphis.
Anyway, if Gay really does want to be traded, and the Grizzlies, more interior oriented with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol up front, and also, possibly interested in keeping restricted free agent O.J. Mayo, the Celtics may not be a terrible match.
Pierce and Gay play the same position, make similar money this upcoming season and would probably be happy with the return on the investment beyond 2013. Gay could become a cornerstone for Boston, Pierce's potential heir apparent, while Pierce would give Memphis financial flexibility moving forward.
Memphis may be looking for a bigger return on a player of Gay's age and skill level. But this is a possibility not worth ruling out.
6. Philadelphia 76ers
If the Sixers trade the guy on the left, perhaps they'll look to grab the guy on the right.
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The Sixers impressed a lot of folks getting to the Eastern semis and taking the Celtics to a Game 7.
Philly looks to be ready to change things up, though. Iguodala's name keeps coming up, Lou Williams is a free agent, and there are rumblings that the team may use its amnesty clause on veteran forward Elton Brand.
If all three of those players are elsewhere, there will be more room for younger guys like Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen. But the Sixers will be almost too young. Jrue Holiday was big in the playoffs, but he will become the focal point without all those other names, and he's just about to enter his his fourth year at just 22 years old.
It's a bit hard to imagine the Sixers and Celtics dealing with each other given the intertwined history of the two franchises and the fact that they play in the same division.
But if they could do business, Pierce would fit the Sixers plans perfectly in the short term if they are to let go of Iguodala and lose Williams.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
Could these two be teammates? Possibly.
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ESPN's Ric Bucher floated the idea back at the end of May.
The rationale is fairly simple. Pierce could take some of the scoring load off of Kobe Bryant. He's from L.A., and Gasol would thicken up the thin front court of the Celtics.
Bucher even adds that if Jeff Green is healthy and the C's re-sign him, the deal makes even more sense.
It's a potential deal that both Celtics fans and Laker fans probably would rather not see.
It kind of makes sense, though—kind of.