With Rajon Rondo now gone for the rest of this season (and part of next season, and really he likely is not his old self until the season after that) it’s time for Danny Ainge to consider breaking up these Celtics.
But the first rumors flying around are not likely at all — that they want Rudy Gay.
One team that rival execs expect to be at the forefront of the Pierce pursuit is Memphis, which delayed but did not solve its long-term payroll concerns by getting under the luxury-tax line with last week’s trade with Cleveland. While Memphis can survive for the rest of this season without trading Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, it still cannot sustain such a top-heavy payroll for the next two seasons. Pierce would keep the Grizzlies dangerous — arguably, make them more dangerous — for the rest of this season, and allow them to reorganize their spending as soon as next season.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes it one step further and discusses a three-way trade that brings the Lakers into the Celtics/Grizzlies mix.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, NBA executives believe the Grizzlies, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have had trade discussions that could involve Gay, Paul Pierce and Pau Gasol. The speculation is that Memphis would receive Pierce, Los Angeles would get Gay and Gasol would land in Boston.
I’m not buying it.
I’m not sure Boston is going to take on a lot of additional salary and Gay makes $17.8 million next year (Pierce $15.3 million) and Gay makes $19 million the year after that (and that second year is the first time you can count on Rondo to be healthy and back leading the team the way he can). Then there’s the simple question of if you think Gay is really a step up over Pierce — he’s more athletic, but whom do you trust?
As for the three way, I’m not convinced at all the Lakers move Gasol at the deadline. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash want to keep him, which is a big deal around that locker room. Also the Lakers are trying to keep cap space open for the summer of 2014 and if they are going to kill that I doubt it’s for Gay. The rest of the three team makes a little sense for teams involved.
Marc Stein on twitter made a more logical suggestion.
But the rumors are flying and there are going to be a lot more of them.