Yesterday, I highlighted a trade with the ESPN trade machine that I felt the Celtics could make with the Phoenix Suns.
Tonight is a similar spin on that same theme: Deal Pierce for some young talent, maybe even throwing in a pick with Pierce.The proposed trade:
Boston gives up: Paul Pierce & a first
San Antonio gives up: Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard, DeJuan Blair, and Stephen Jackson’s $10 million contract.
How the Move benefits San Antonio:
The Spurs only get better. Instead of starting a defensive stopper at small forward like Leonard, or even platooning in over-the-hill and ineffective Jackson, they can now start Paul Pierce…What a lineup:
PG- Tony Parker
SG- Manu Ginobili
SF- Paul Pierce
PF- Boris Diaw
C- Tim Duncan
They sacrifice some young talent, but that starting lineup has the look of a contender. It is an all or nothing last shot for the Spurs to get another title or two before Duncan retires, and Pierce and Duncan could walk off into the sunshine together, with a couple more rings each.
Think about how good the Spurs would be at closing out games with Parker, Ginobili, Pierce, and Duncan all as last shot options. Who do the Spurs isolate at the end of quarters? Ginobili or Pierce? Does it matter? Both are superb options.
Why it makes sense for the Celtics:
The C’s need to get younger, and getting rid of Pierce is the first step in that process. His contract is big, $18 million per season, but he has a lot of value still and can provide a lot of help for a team needing a big time player who is only on the hook for this season and the next.
The Spurs package would be awesome: Tiago Splitter has the makings of a top 15 center. DeJuan Blair, ACLs or not, is a great rebounder who can provide some toughness for at least another five seasons. Kawhi Leonard is a top tier defensive stopper already, and isn’t a bad scorer by any means. He’ll be an All-NBA All Defense selection soon enough. Lastly, Jackson’s expiring contract is a huge gift, as it would enable the Spurs to go chase a decent free agent next summer.
The Celtics remain a contender long past Pierce’s expiration date, Garnett retires in two years, and the rest of the roster is young and talented.
A possible depth chart*
PG- Rajon Rondo / Dionte Christmas (?)
SG- Avery Bradley / Courtney Lee
SF- Jeff Green / Kawhi Leonard / Kris Joseph (?)
PF- Brandon Bass / DeJuan Blair / Jared Sullinger
C- Tiago Splitter / Fab Melo
*- Add one pretty mid range free agent to the mix, $8 to $10 M
That team would stack up pretty well against a lot of different lineups. Rondo and Bradley are likely the backcourt of the future, while I see Lee as more of a sixth man type of player.
Jeff Green and Kawhi Leonard would be a deadly duo at small forward, as both are good to great defenders who can shoot the ball and run the court very well.
At power forward, some of that depth would likely be dealt, and it’s uncertain which of those three players will eventually be the best option. A wait and see approach is nobel.
Lastly, Splitter is an above average center in the NBA already, and Melo is probably going to be about replacement level for a backup center, so the Spurs could stand to upgrade by dealing a power forward + a pick to obtain another good center. Of course, the designated free agent signing could be used to lure a big man, as well, but then again, Splitter may pan out and be as good as he was once expected to be (He was at one point projected to be a top-five pick).