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The Mass Media

Sports Spiel: Celtics Need to Start Dealing Before the Deadline


Courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr



Throughout the years, Boston fans have developed and mastered the ability to move on from seasons and from players.  Our four teams have lost a lot of great athletes and hometown favorites over the years and it’s time to ring that bell one more time.  The first half of the NBA season is almost over and the Celtics haven’t looked much better than the over 30 team at your local YMCA.  It’s time to send off our old Paul Pierce, but don’t worry—he wont be alone.  

The Celtics currently sit in eighth place of the Eastern Confernce, and two and half games behind the Milwaukee Bucks. In their last 14 games, the Celtics went 5-9 while failing to reach 90 points in half of those contests. The opportunity to rebuild and still fight for a playoff spot is now, and it must start with dealing Paul Pierce.  

Pierce is the most valuable trade piece for the Celtics if they still want to contend this year.  Kevin Garnett needs to stay because he will be an important part in rebuilding this team.  It’s clear that Garnett is now the team leader, and he is the only guy on the team that can keep Rajon Rondo in check. Pierce only has two years left on his contract, compared to Garnett’s three.  So how do the Celtics receive a scoring threat and a big man?  Danny needs to call the Atlanta Hawks and the Utah Jazz because “Big Al” needs to come home.  

Al Jefferson has one year left on his contract, so it’s likely that Utah will try to dump him and get something in return.  Utah is a small-market team that has a fan base more focused on Oakley ski goggles than its basketball team’s center.  Atlanta also has a salary dump of their own: Josh Smith.  

So this is how the trade would work.  Boston would receive Josh Smith and Al Jefferson while Atlanta gets Paul Pierce and Fab Melo with Raja Bell from Utah in return.  Utah then gets Jeff Green, Jason Terry, and Kyle Korver.  If Danny Ainge proposes this trade, we can only hope that Utah will be happy with the scoring threats they get in return.  Not only are they adding scorers, but they would also be freeing up money to sign Paul Milsap long term and create more rotation for their younger and more promising players.  

Then we have to hope that Atlanta is convinced not to re-sign Josh Smith and that they like the veteran leadership in Paul Pierce and Raja Bell for a strong playoff push.  So why should Danny Ainge put faith in two players who are on the last years of their deals?

Sell the idea of nourishment to Al Jefferson.  He will get two years to work with Garnett.  Let Garnett close out his career teaching one of the better big men in the league, and also coaching one the Celtics’ most promising rookie since Rondo: Jared Sullinger.  When Garnett leaves, imagine “Big Al” and Sullinger teaming up in the paint. Signing Josh Smith might be more difficult, but I’m sure he’ll love the fast break play with Rondo.  I know Rondo will—just watch a game and notice how many times he sprints up the court and has to wait for his team to catch up.  The Celtics will have a young nucleus able to contend for the next few years, and that is what Danny Ainge needs to show Josh Smith.  

So now the rotation looks like this, for the starters: Rondo, Smith, Bradley, Garnett and Jefferson.  For the top three to rotate in there are Bass, Sullinger and Barbosa.  Barbosa also needs more playing time.  He is a veteran leader and knows how to play fundamental basketball; both of those skills are key for a playoff push. Ainge did it once and he needs to do it again, get creative and take a chance.  

It’s time to part with our old friend, because if we are going to make the playoffs this year, Larry Bird ain’t walkin’ through that door!