The Boston Celtics were dealt a serious blow when news broke that Rajon Rondo would miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Whether Danny Ainge plans to blow up the roster and begin a rebuilding process remains to be seen, but he has the pieces to do so.
According to Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld, the Celtics may be looking to deal Paul Pierce before the trade deadline:
Was told yesterday Boston was absolutely open to trading Paul Pierce for the right package in return. Hard to see that not happening now— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) January 27, 2013
With Boston currently sitting at 21-23 and barely in the playoff hunt, Rondo’s absence will be a difficult obstacle to overcome. The Celtics have been faced with rebuilding questions for some time, and now may be the time for Ainge to pull the trigger.
If Boston decides to blow up its roster and move forward with a new plan for the future, Pierce may be the first to go, and potentially not the last. According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, Boston has another player in which league executives are very interested:
Most appealing Celtic, according to multiple team execs: Jared Sullinger. Don't expect Boston to part with him— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) January 28, 2013
Boston may not be open to trading Sullinger right now, but he’s an ulta-valuable asset who could bring a lot in return. The situation will develop as the trade deadline approaches, but Pierce may prove to be the first domino to fall should Ainge decide on a major roster overhaul.
There has also been talk of Boston being a potential destination for Memphis forward Rudy Gay. As Kyler points out, though, the salary implications could force Boston to look elsewhere should they decide to deal Pierce, and there’s no guarantee Memphis wants the Celtics' veteran in return:
RT @picknpopdiaries: Pierce is a better defender than Gay ---> agreed. Not sure Boston wants Rudy's $$$ unless they shed Jeff Green too— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) January 27, 2013
RT @gstackgeorge: Pierce for Gay? -> Memphis has no interest. I think it would be an interesting move. Not sure he fits their culture— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) January 27, 2013
Still, if Memphis is serious about moving Gay this season, there may be more potential suitors to knock on the door around the February 21 trade deadline. The deadline is still more than three weeks away, giving the Grizzlies plenty of time to find a suitable deal.
The Cavs handed Memphis some cap relief by dealing for Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby for reserve John Leuer. Cleveland also picked up a future first-round selection from Memphis, and may not be done trying to add ammunition for upcoming drafts.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Cavs could be looking to deal Speights before the deadline, along with Daniel Gibson and Omri Casspi. Cleveland has cap room—a valuable trade asset at this time of year. If the Cavs hope to continue their rebuilding efforts through the draft, taking on some salary to acquire more draft picks isn’t a bad idea.
Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks
With Atlanta’s Josh Smith talking contract and constant speculation regarding Paul Gasol in Los Angeles, it seems natural to link the two in trade speculation. According to Max Luckan of CBS Tampa, there may be more to the situation than just speculation:
Just a quick update: Spoke with a source today about Pau Gasol-Josh Smith reports, and it looks like there may be something there.— Max Luckan (@MaxLuckan) January 28, 2013
Smith is asking for a maximum contract, and Atlanta may not be willing to follow through on that request. If he is dealt, it will have to be to a team that can match contracts and offer something substantial, though.
All talk of potential deals in Los Angeles is slow-moving at best, but there is still time before the trade deadline to make something happen. Will the Lakers circumvent offseason turmoil with Dwight Howard by trading him this season? Is Gasol safe in Los Angeles?
Those questions remained unanswered, but it will all be sorted out by the time the deadline arrives.