Not even a year after trading Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets and jump-starting a long-overdue rebuilding project, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge hasn't ruled out the possibility of The Truth's return, per WEEI's Ben Rohrbach:
Ainge on possibility of bringing Paul Pierce back: "At the right price, right circumstance."— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) April 17, 2014
I know what you're thinking: The Ainge household most definitely recycles.
You're also thinking: What would be the right circumstance?
Well, for starters, Pierce would need to be available. And wouldn't you know it, he's a free agent this summer. What a coincidence.
A massive pay cut would also need to be involved. Pierce is earning over $15.3 million this season, according to ShamSports. There's little chance the Celtics would be willing to pay him even half his current salary.
More than anything, though, the Celtics need to be attractive.
Returning to Boston is something Pierce would most definitely consider, but only if the Celtics are prepared to win. That's the whole reason he left, why he was traded. He didn't want to be part of another rebuild. It's like Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin wrote in August, sentimental attachment only means so much:
Paul Pierce will always love Boston, he’s admitted being traded out of there this summer has been hard on him. His number will eventually go into the rafters and generations of Celtics fans will tell their kids about “The Truth.”
That didn’t mean he wanted to stay through a rebuild.
Winning is the biggest snag in any potential return. Boston only began rebuilding. The Celtics won only 25 games this year. They would need a complete reversal of direction if Pierce's return is to make sense for both parties.
The good news there is Ainge clearly despises rebuilding and is growing impatient:
Danny Ainge: "I don't [have the patience for another losing season]. I didn't like that season very much."— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) April 17, 2014
Restless enough to make a blockbuster trade this offseason? Just maybe:
Ainge on a dealing for an All-Star: "That's possible. We'll certainly look into that. So much depends upon where we end up in the draft."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 17, 2014
Ainge on 'fireworks': "I'm looking to make something happen. But I have to make sure that we do a good deal, not just to make a splash."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 17, 2014
Before you go busting out the ol', not-yet-besieged-by-mothballs Pierce Celtics jersey, understand that a return is unlikely.
Trading for an All-Star isn't easy. Though the Celtics have plenty of roster flexibility, they aren't teeming with the assets necessary to give Rajon Rondo a superstar sidekick who vaults them back into contention. Any deal they strike would have to include one or more of their first-round picks for this year's draft.
There's also no guaranteeing the Celtics don't traverse a completely different path.
Instead of landing an All-Star, they could decide to trade their own. No one on their roster is untouchable.
Is any player un-tradable? Ainge: "No."— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) April 17, 2014
Will Paul Pierce ever actually play for the Celtics again?
Unless Pierce plans to sign with them only to retire immediately after, don't count on the nearly lifelong Celtic sporting familiar green next season.
Crazier things have happened, but a reunion between the two isn't imminent. The sentiment is nice. Warm and fuzzy, even. And it's not impossible.
It's just unlikely.