Report: Boston getting calls asking about Paul Pierce

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Can you picture Paul Pierce in any other uniform than Boston green?

It seems weird. But Celtics fans are starting to try, they taking to message boards and asking the big question:

Is it time to blow up the Celtics and rebuild?

This team has lost five in a row, has fallen to 4-8, and in their loss to Oklahoma City Monday it was clear they were not as athletic, as deep, as talented or as good. OKC is what a contender looks like. Is it time for Boston to start trading everyone not named Rajon Rondo and rebuild from the ground up.

Other teams are wondering if Boston is considering that, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

Does ownership and general manager Danny Ainge go for the complete rebuild and trade Pierce before the March 15 deadline? Several contending teams have inquired about Pierce’s availability. As one Eastern Conference official said, there are “lots of calls asking if [Boston] will blow it up.”

Last summer Boston made the conscious decision to make one more run with this group, but it may be one run too many. General Manager Danny Ainge has long wanted to break up these Celtics too early rather than hang on too long (what he saw as the big mistake after the 1080s teams that he played on).

Would he really do it? Maybe. He traded Kendrick Perkins and did not bring back Tony Allen. He’ll make hard decisions. And there would be trade value for the big three right now.

Ray Allen is playing well (shooting 51.3 percent), is in the last year of his deal and fits in just about any system — there would be multiple offers for him that gets Boston picks or young players. Garnett is also in the last year of his deal and would draw interest. Pierce is stickier — he has this season plus $15.3 million for next season remaining on his deal. He is playing better as he rounds into shape, he played well last season, but is another team going to take on that much salary for an aging player with question marks?

Boston is not going to make a move soon, it would be closer to the All-Star Game or trade deadline. These Celtics are not a 4-8 team and as they keep improving things will get better — but this is not a contender in the best of circumstances. But there are contenders or teams on the fringe that would have interest in the big three.

It seems the hard thing to do, to break up the best Celtics core in a while. But it’s going to happen in the next year or so one way or another. Is it better to jump start the process, even if you have to see Paul Pierce in another color? Maybe it is.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.