Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Per Stein, the Celtics and Pierce may finally be approaching an inevitable crossroads.
He says that both the Cavaliers and the Bucks would be interested in brokering a deal. The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes reports that Cleveland is prepared to offer a pair of second-round picks in exchange for the perennial All-Star.
Stein also writes that Paul's preference is to be traded to a contender if he has to be traded at all, essentially eliminating the Bucks and Cavaliers from the equation.
General manager Danny Ainge is believed to be seeking a first-round pick as compensation in any deal, an intangible asset that becomes absolutely necessary if Boston submits to Pierce's will and starts talking with contenders who won't have the salary cap to take him on without sending anything back in return.
Meanwhile, Deveney reports that the Celtics are also dedicated to shipping Pierce out in favor of a $15-plus million trade exception that they could use in a sign-and-trade package for the Hawks' Smith. Doing that means Pierce would likely be sent to a rebuilding team with plenty of cap space.
Because nothing with the Celtics is ever not complicated, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Brooklyn and Boston are engaged in talks that would land both Pierce and Kevin Garnett with the Nets.
Per Woj, Boston would receive Brooklyn's Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries' expiring contract, Tornike Shengelia and three first-round picks.
Woj notes that Garnett has not been approached about waiving his no-trade clause to play in Brooklyn. He also says that no deal can be struck until July 10, when Pierce's 2013-14 salary would be in effect.
Noting that Wallace's contract could be a potential deal killer, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com says that a far more likely deal consists of Pierce headed to Brooklyn by himself in exchange for Humphries and a future first-round pick.
Woj confirms that the talks involving both stars are serious and could get even bigger. Boston is apparently looking to include either Jason Terry or Courtney Lee in the deal.
On some level, you get the sense that Pierce is on his way out of Boston in one way or another.
Had the Celtics' plan been retain Pierce and Garnett all along, there would have been little reason for Rivers to help orchestrate his escape from Beantown.
Finding a deal won't be difficult; satisfying the needs of all involved will be. Pierce wants to go to a contender, but the Celtics want to save money, which likely can't happen if they send him to a playoff team. They also want a first-round pick, a price a contending team would be more willing to pay than a rebuilding one.
The possibility remains that the Celtics could simply cut their losses and buy Pierce out before June 30. Only $5 million of his $15.3 million salary is guaranteed, so Boston would still be saving more than $10 million.
Should the Celtics send Pierce on his merry way, the Clippers become his most likely destination.
But is that where he will end up? Will it be somewhere else? Will he be headed anywhere at all?
We'll know soon enough...we hope.