As the Celtics try to evolve from the departure of Ray Allen, one must continue to ask the question, “Is the Celtics window for a title open or shut?”
The young tandem of Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo have looked mighty impressive in their summer league games, but is it nearly enough to improve a team that was one-win away from making the NBA Finals?
The Celtics still need to make more moves to compete with the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls when Derrick Rose returns from injury.
If the Celtics see their chances at a title in the impending season dwindle or come to a complete halt, I see four moves involving Paul Pierce that they can make to improve their roster for a title run the following year. Note that draft picks are not included. This is because of the obvious reason of the inability to determine how valuable a draft pick is without knowing the success of the team during the season.
1. Memphis Grizzlies http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=7zknsty
- Memphis Grizzlies receive: Paul Pierce
- Boston Celtics receive: Rudy Gay
Yes, the trade analysis shows the Celtics on the detrimental end of this deal. Pierce in no way however can be better in the future and will only decline from his current stature.
However, Rudy Gay still hasn’t surfaced the pinnacle of his talent. Gay is a very effective scorer and plays above average defense. He may not have the star power of other small forwards in the league but he can make an extremely beneficial partner for the quick tempo Rajon Rondo.
Gay is a much more agile player than the aging Paul Pierce and Rondo would serve much better with his ability compared to Pierce. This would be beneficial to a Memphis Grizzlies team who are on the cusp of championship run but need to fill the void of OJ Mayo’s shooting ability. Pierce may walk instead of run but he is still able shooter. Pierce would give the Grizzlies a better closer compared to Gay and a veteran leader in the locker room.
2. Chicago Bulls http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=9derg8z
- Chicago Bulls receive: Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley
- Boston Celtics receive: Luol Deng, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler
I know it is devastating for Celtics’ fans to see Avery Bradley go, but he can be excellant trade bait for any team willing to over compensate for the defensive specialist. This is Rondo’s team and with the Celtics going to the All-Star point guard, he needs a better option than Avery Bradley in the future.
Jeff Green may be a solid starter for the C’s in the future, but they need to make an addition to their front line once Garnett relinquishes his spot on the team with his soon approaching injuries/retirement.
Deng and Gibson give the Celtics much younger pieces to help Rondo pile up his assist numbers. Luol Deng is one of the more under appreciated players in the league, he’s a coach’s best friend, and younger than Paul Pierce.
Doc Rivers would certainly like his athletic play and basketball IQ. Yes, the Celtics may lose more in this trade depending on how good Avery Bradley turns out, but with Deng coming off his 1st All-Star appearance, the Celtics may enjoy the grit the current Bull’s players may provide.
3. Sacramento Kings http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=94zhllf
- Sacramento Kings receive: Paul Pierce
- Boston Celtics receive: Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton
Tyreke Evans has become expendable by Kings’ management with the signing off Aaron Brooks and the cinderella story of Isaiah Thomas. Evans was largely pursued during the trade deadline from last season, and the Kings failed to trade away the former Rookie of the Year.
Evans has the makings of being a star in the association but growing pains arose from his inability to play one position well. He shifted from point to small forward and with the Kings being heavy in guards they need an effective scorer from a true small forward like Paul Pierce.
Evans and Thornton both are dynamic scorers and together average 33.5 points per game. The Celtics can rebuild with 4 very good guards which makes excellent trade bait in the future to acquire a big man. If the Evans experiment does fail, the Celtics can simply not resign him and they still keep the dynamic shooting ability of Marcus Thornton while not having the much more expensive Paul Pierce.
4. Atlanta Hawks http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=8lqcnwf
- Atlanta Hawks receive: Paul Pierce, Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger
- Boston Celtics receive: Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia
Both teams easily win in this deal. Josh Smith has threatened to leave the seemingly always a first round-exit in the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks.
Under the leadership of General Manager, Danny Ferry, the Hawks are preparing for a rebuilding period with Al Horford as their center piece for the future. Pierce gives them cap room in the future while providing a bit of leadership that Josh Smith clearly lacked.
Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger are the jewels for the Hawks in this deal. Both are prime contributors in the future for whatever organization they will be a part of. The Hawks could groom Sullinger and Melo to work alongside with All-Star Al Horford and give them valuable pieces for a future trade or championship runs.
Now to Josh Smith: He has been linked to multiple teams like the Brooklyn Nets, but why not the Boston Celtics. Josh Smith is a defensive freak of nature and gives the Celtics’ the blocking tandem of Smith and Garnett.
Smith is also a talent that can work alongside Rajon Rondo and build a more uptempo offensive for the often stagnent Celtics of the past few years. If Smith were to go to Boston, the Heat could very easily be shut down by the stellar man-to-man defense of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Kevin Garnett, and Josh Smith. Meanwhile, Zaza is just a filler for cap space, but gives the Celtics a hustler and a couple of fouls throughout the game. Something the Celtics have coveted on their bench for many years.
Overall, this trade makes most sense out of the 4 trade possibilities metioned, and the Celtics need to capitalize in the prime talent of Josh Smith and convince him to play 40+ games at the TD Bank Garden for many years before he commits to another team in the impending free agency period.