The speculation just won't stop. It seems that Rudy Gay has been on the trading block for months. With already a few rejected offers from other teams and the Memphis Grizzlies freeing up some cap space to potentially keep him, it's evident that Gay might be staying after all, right?
Although there are still live rumbles on the league's personnel grapevine that this will actually be the February that Celtics front-office chief Danny Ainge finally parts with Paul Pierce or Rajon Rondo, I'm still pretty skeptical. As one team monitoring the Celtics said this week: "[Boston] has floated the idea of moving Pierce or Rondo out there for the last three years ... but has never pulled the trigger."
So it's premature, to me, to throw Pierce's name up there with Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol on the list of high-profile names available this trade season, even though we've heard more than one rival team speculate -- given that the Celtics and Grizzlies, sources say, have indeed held some exploratory trade talks since Gay hit the market -- that a three-way deal where Pierce lands in Memphis, Gasol goes to Boston and Gay joins the Lakers makes "some sense."
It would be hard to see Danny Ainge deal a franchise Boston Celtic who has been with the team through its graceful championship contending era and its tumultuous rebuilding period.
From the duo of Pierce and Antoine Walker, to the "Big Three" of him, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, to taking a backseat to a young Rajon Rondo—Pierce has seen it all.
But with the Celtics currently in the midst of an egregious six-game losing streak and Pierce playing like a shadow of his former self, is it time to finally let him go? Or will Ainge keep together this team and give them one last shot at a chance for a championship?
Although it's hard imagining Pierce in any other jersey besides the green and white, the three-team trade speculated by rival general managers and scouts looks reasonable for all parties involved.
The Celtics are currently tied with the Charlotte Bobcats for 28th in the league in rebounding rate (per Hollinger's Team Stats). However, Gasol averages a career 9.2 rebounds per game—higher than any current Celtic on the roster.
Gasol clearly isn't playing up to his usual standards with the Lakers, but if he's put in a better situation, he's likely to contribute at a higher level. Without Dwight Howard clogging the paint, Gasol can fill in as the starting center for the Celtics and allow Garnett to shift to his natural power forward position.
Garnett's shooting ability at the 4 can stretch the floor and free up the paint to allow Gasol more room to operate through his best offensive skill—posting up.
Pierce would also be a great fit for the Grizzlies. He's not a great athletic defender like Gay, but he's still a solid individual defender.
He can create, score and draw fouls just as well as Gay, but his shooting ability is the one thing the Grizzlies certainly need. According to team rankings, the Grizzlies are ranked 24th in the league in three point percentage, standing at a lowly 34 percent.
Pierce, on the other hand, is a career 37 percent three-point shooter and shooting doesn't decline with age. The Grizzlies already have enough interior presences who clog the paint, so having a proven shooter would be the last piece to push this Grizzlies team to the next level.
The Lakers recorded an admirable win recently against a Utah Jazz team that they lost to twice already, but the fact is that they're still seven games below .500 and way out of the playoff race.
Gay can play as a stretch 4 in Mike D'Antoni's system way better than Gasol. His supreme defensive capabilities on the perimeter and in the post will undoubtedly help the Lakers' defensive woes. Although Gay is better with the ball in his hands, he's still a prominent off-ball player who can do a variety of things other than score.
On an older, slow Lakers team, Gay's athletic competence on both ends of the floor would be a luxury to have.
With all the speculation and trade rumors going on for the past few weeks, this three-team trade makes the most sense so far. Every team benefits and none of the players lose out either, considering all three teams are trying to win right now.
While the teams' decisions to pull the trigger is still up in the air, I wouldn't be surprised if Pierce, Gay and Gasol donned different jerseys before the trade deadline.
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