Trading for Josh Smith would be worth it to any number of NBA teams. You can debate whether he is or isn't a max-level player, but there are franchises so talent deprived that they might as well cash out Josh Smith.
Boston, in terms of talent on the roster, just might be one of those teams:
Latest deadline rumble: Boston exploring its Josh Smith options. The prob: Can't do it w/out Pierce. Just can't see Ainge sending PP to ATL
—Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 19, 2013
When you look at the Boston roster, such interest in Smith makes sense. Rajon Rondo is the most talented of the younger Celtics, and he just tore his ACL. Not only that, but Rondo did so after a disappointing half season as the guy designated to carry the franchise.
So Boston's in a tough spot, as a team powered by middle-aged stars like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Even given that, sentiment should prevail in this instance.
It would be one thing if Josh Smith was a certain superstar. It would be one thing if he was a perfect roster fit. Smith is neither, which is why lifetime Celtic Paul Pierce shouldn't be dealt in exchange for Smoove's services.
Let's take a look at Boston's limitations and how they mesh with Smith's limitations. The Celtics are unusual in that point guard Rajon Rondo is nearly a non-shooter. Almost every team has a point guard who can hit open threes. Boston's an exception, and it places certain demands on what they can or cannot do.
The Celtics have a mediocre offense in part because Rondo has yet to develop a reliable jump shot, but they can be competent thanks to spacing from other players. Kevin Garnett is one of the best shooting bigs in the game, and Paul Pierce has deep range.
Josh Smith, though he's on a current hot streak from three-point range, is also a poor shooter. If the plan is to eventually team up Rajon Rondo and Josh Smith, you're already starting from a position where opposing defenses can sag off two of your premier players. That's a problem.
If the plan is to let Josh Smith walk after this year's playoff run, thus avoiding the Rondo-Smith combo issue, then that's not quite right either. Paul Pierce has been a Celtic his entire NBA career, and he's still good at age 35. Is trading Pierce for a half season of Josh Smith really worth it?
The answer is "no," despite Smith's tantalizing talents. He can perhaps help another team with his odd brew of shot-blocking, passing and dribbling. That team just can't be Boston, if they have to give up Paul Pierce.
Though it's understood that a general manager shouldn't be overly sentimental, there are limits to that rule. When a player has given as much as Paul Pierce has, for as long as Paul Pierce has, it's unwise to ship him out via a risky move.