Paul Pierce may be on his way out of Boston. Again.
Per Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Boston Celtics are exploring their trade options for the 15-year veteran.
Stein says that Danny Ainge and the Celtics are seeking a first-round pick in any deal they negotiate, and are also willing to help Pierce facilitate a move to a contender.
If Pierce can't be sent to a championship-caliber outfit, Boston could explore trading him to a team under the salary cap in exchange for some second-rounders in an effort to save $15-plus million. Or it could hold on to him and hope to move him at the trade deadline when contending franchises are beyond desperate.
Buying out Pierce is still an option, too, but given how well Pierce played last season and all that he means to the Celtics, it seems unlikely Boston is prepared to pay him $5 million to go on his merry way.
At the same time, it's still possible. Anything is. The Celtics are preparing to charter waters they haven't navigated in more than five years.
With saving money and/or acquiring a first-rounder being the primary goal, any scenario that allows the Celtics to do just that is still in play.