The Boston Celtics are heading into the NBA trade deadline on a two game losing streak, have been ravaged by injuries, and are facing serious questions about whether the franchise can compete for an NBA title now and in the future. As a result, Celtic President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is in a very tough spot, with numerous opportunities to improve the team on the table combined the grim reality that he is unlikely to get fair value in any trade involving one his star players. Rumors of deals involving Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo have all come to the surface in the past week, as have more minor deals involving players like Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Courtney Lee. However, while moving Garnett or Rondo appears unlikely, trading Pierce may actually be in the Celtics best interest.
Ainge has considered blowing up his core multiple times over the past few seasons, but he has held off doing so and has been rewarded for it, with Boston making a deep playoff run almost every year. However, this time around, Celtics101 thinks that it might be the time. Garnett, one of the only players in the NBA with a no-trade clause, has made it clear that he's not going anywhere, and there is no way the Celtics would get fair value for Rondo while he is still recovering from knee surgery. But a deal has surfaced involving trading Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries and a first round pick. Now almost no Celtic fan will ever advocate trading Pierce, who has been the face of the franchise since 1998, but he really is getting to the end of the road of his career. It's not just that he's missing shots…. it's how he missing them. He is shooting his worst field goal percentage in eight years (41 percent). Every shooter goes through rough stretches, but it's not just the numbers. His shot just looks flat. It has looked flat all year. His free throws are flat. When he elevates for a jumper, he barely gets off the ground. He is even struggling finishing at the rim. Celtics101 was sure going into this season that Pierce had at least one more good year left in him primarily because he has never relied on athleticism. But for a guy who has always been just fast enough, just strong enough, and just athletic enough, perhapshim losing that last fraction of a step was all it took. He is the consummate team player, and he can impact a game without scoring, but Pierce simply isn't the player he once was.
One has to remember that trading Pierce would not just be about the on court production. Trading their captain would completely alter the identity of the team and the Celtics would have to reinvent their culture from scratch. This would be even more difficult because the Celtics are playing great basketball right now, having ripped off an 8-3 stretch since Rajon Rondo went down. However it is time to face facts – the Celtics are playing over their heads right now. Guys are over achieving, but the injuries are going to catch up to them eventually. They should make the playoffs, but when they are up against good teams and need to win games in the fourth quarter they are going to look to Pierce, and Celtics101 honestly doesn't believe he can carry the load anymore. That being the case it may be time to get what they can for him.
A package of Marshon Brooks, Kris Humphries and a first round pick would be pretty decent value for Pierce. The Celtics would like to get a little more, especially considering that, whatever his other limitations, Pierce can still catch fire on offense every once in a while. However, Marshon Brooks is very good scorer who, after a excellent rookie season, has had his development blocked by Joe Johnson. Kris Humphries is one of the better rebounders out there and would be a huge upgrade over Brandon Bass. Combine these two with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger and you have a young core to build around. It would take a miracle for the Celtics to win a championship this year, and it may be time to stop hoping for miracles.
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