Originally posted on Celtics Town  |  Last updated 3/6/12


It has been reported in multiple outlets that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen — rather than Kevin Garnett or Rajon Rondo — have the highest trade value on the Boston Celtics. I’m surprised Greg Stiemsma isn’t drawing more interest on the market, but otherwise that makes some amount of sense.

What contender isn’t looking to add a professional scorer or the greatest shooter of all-time, especially when the price is essentially a draft pick and a young, undeveloped player with upside? Rajon Rondo is more valuable than either of his star wing teammates, but the Celtics also won’t part with him for such a measly package of future gifts — they would likely need a star in return.

But according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, who cites multiple league sources, “there just hasn’t been much call for the Big Three.” It’s surprising that Allen and Pierce, with smaller contracts and games adaptable to any system, would not draw much interest, though Pierce’s contract (two years, $32 million left after this season) could serve as a repellent. But it makes sense in Kevin Garnett’s case — at any rate, it’s difficult to match salaries for somebody making $21 million, especially when the Celtics, who are looking to build for the future, would refuse any deal that left them with long filler contracts, like the one the Magic assumed when they traded for Gilbert Arenas.

Danny Ainge is smarter than that; he knows that any potential trades made this season are about the future rather than winning a title. That is why he will accept calls about anybody on his roster; it is also why he should be selective in dealing away any of his core players, since the Celtics are already well-designed for a rebuild (or, in a perfect-case scenario, reload) prior to this season.

Bulpett goes on to suggest that Ainge would consider trades that might leave the Celtics out of the playoffs this season.

The belief here, too, is that the Celtics wouldn’t mind getting worse to get better . . . you know, buy a lottery ticket. If they could find a deal that got them something for the future (a draft pick or the rights to a currently entwined foreigner) but hurt them this year to the point they missed the playoffs, a lucky bounce of the ping-pong balls might be the best thing that could happen to this club. Or do you forget what a Mr. T. Duncan did for San Antonio’s fortunes?

Keep in mind: making the lottery this season will be incredibly difficult, even if the Celtics are gutted at the deadline. With 30 games left on the Celtics’ schedule, they are currently five games ahead of Milwaukee, the East’s No. 9 squad. Unless the Celtics start drinking beer, playing video games and eating chicken on the bench, they should be able to qualify for the postseason — even if they trade, let’s say, both Pierce and Allen.

But keep in mind the type of deals being offered for those two: the rumored Clippers deal for Allen included Mo Williams (a reasonably talented bench player who plays Rondo’s position, shoots 43 percent from the field and makes $8.5 million next season unless he waives his player option, which would be quite foolish), Eric Bledsoe (a 22-year old who averaged 6.7 points per game last season, but hasn’t played more than 14 minutes in any contest this season) and presumably some draft pick the Clippers would conjure out of nowhere.

That trade would certainly make the Celtics worse this season. But it’s not what they’re looking for. At all. I hope. Please lord.

Though I would hate to see Pierce or any of the other Fabulous Four members in another jersey, I’m not opposed to the Celtics getting worse now to improve in the future. That’s always, always, always the point of rebuilding, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Sam Presti. Considering that the Celtics have approximately zero chance of winning a title this season, keeping an eye on the future is important.

Keep an eye on the future. Think about the rumored trades that have surfaced. I love Pau Gasol’s game, but he’s a 31-year old big who’s already showing signs of slowing down. Why trade a 26-year old, three-time All-Star for that? I like Eric Bledsoe’s talent, but if you have to keep Mo Williams and his $8.5 million for next season, it simply doesn’t make sense — why waste cap space on Mo Williams when the plan for four seasons has been to have loads of cap space after 2012?

Ainge will be looking for deals. He’s always looking for deals. The key is accepting the smart ones. And the smart ones build for the future while maintaining all the cap space Ainge worked so diligently to clear.

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