Boston Celtics mainstay Paul Pierce has been the recent subject of trade rumors as the Celtics have lost five of their last six, sinking to a 5-8 record and third place in the Atlantic division.
According to Yahoo! Sports, several contending teams have already been calling Celtics' general manager Danny Ainge about Pierce's availability, a sign that the Big Three of Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen could potentially break up in hopes of rebuilding.
Ainge has considered rebuilding for months, as he implied when he spoke to the Boston Globe, after seeing how the 1980s Celtics' teams with Larry Bird, Robert Parrish, and Kevin McHale really began to show their age by the early 90s.
I sat with Red [Auerbach] during a Christmas party [20 years ago], Ainge said. Red was talking to Larry, Kevin, and myself, and there was a lot of trade discussion at the time, and Red actually shared some of the trade discussions. And I told Red, 'What are you doing? Why are you waiting?' He had a chance to trade Larry [to Indiana] for Chuck Person and Herb Williams and [Steve] Stipanovich, and he had a chance to trade Kevin [to Dallas] for Detlef Schrempf and Sam Perkins. I was, like, 'Are you kidding?'
Ainge continued: I mean, I feel that way now. If I were presented with those kinds of deals for our aging veterans, it's a done deal, to continue the success.
Pierce is owed $32 million over the next two seasons. Few teams would be able to trade for him due to salary cap restraints.
The Indiana Pacers look like a playoff team this season with a 9-4 record, and can afford to take on Pierce's salary. The Pacers could also use Pierce's veteran presence, and another scorer.
The Pacers are $14.2 million under the cap and have expendable pieces to include in a package. Boston will likely want draft picks, and would expect to receive some players who can contribute this season, and beyond.
The Pacers might consider shipping swingman Paul George, center Louis Amundson, and a draft pick, for Pierce. George, 21, is averaging 11.2 points per game with Indiana, and has shown signs of promise. Amundson, 29, is a serviceable big man off the bench, where the Celtics are rather thin.
Both teams could be much better off with this deal. The Celtics get younger, start the rebuilding process, and free up some cap space. The Pacers would receive a clutch veteran who can play shooting guard, and ease pressure off franchise star Danny Granger.
Should Boston deal Pierce, the payroll flexibility could help the Celtics going forward as Ainge decides the fate of Garnett, 36, and Allen, 35, who are both playing with expiring contracts.
Ainge might be on to something here.