So, from completely out of left field(or left sideline, if we want to keep our metaphors in the same sport), comes this story from Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski:
Before the trade deadline passed, the Boston Celtics had one final choice to make on the franchise's future: In a three-way deal that would've secured Josh Smith and surrendered Paul Pierce to Dallas, Atlanta wanted Boston's first-round draft pick, too.
The article focuses on the Celtics perspective, since Boston and Atlanta play tonight, but I'm curious if we'll hear more about this from local sources at some point. It may seem pointless to analyze a trade that didn't happen, but I'd like to, because I think there are some very curious implications here.
I'll be honest: my initial reaction to this was one of puzzlement.
Paul Pierce is a fine player. He is certainly a "name" guy, who would attract fans and perhaps other NBA players looking for new employment. In this regard, a trade to acquire Pierce makes plenty of sense, and for the reported cost, seems like quite a coup.
However, looking at the bigger picture, a trade for Pierce is a bit confusing. Pierce, while still a very productive player, has seen a slight decline in his efficiency from the days when Boston was making Finals appearances, and he's 35. Most importantly, though, he's due to make $15 million next season. So, acquiring him would have severely limited the financially flexibility Dallas has seemingly been so protective of since winning the NBA title. This, in of itself, is a story.
Pierce, of course, plays the same position as Shawn Marion, and together with Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas would have had close to $48 million tied up next year in those three forwards. We can't know what, if any, substantial trade offers Dallas might have had for Shawn Marion, but sufficed to say, that's not an ideal scenario for building a complete roster. At that point, you are almost certainly having to choose between bringing back Marion or Mayo in 2013, assuming you want either, and in case it wasn't clear, you are also likely taking yourself out of the running for a max level free agent.
Finally, there is the exchange of the picks. At the deadline, Dallas was 24-29, having just beaten the Magic, and the Hawks were 29-23, having just lost to the Heat. Would just under 30 games have been enough for either team to make that swap favorable for Dallas? Currently, Atlanta is slotted to pick at #21.
Overall, the issue for me is one of asset management, and that's where this trade starts to look less like a coup and more like they may dodged a bullet. If you're building a complete team, would you rather have the extra $14-ish million in cap space, a low-teens pick, and Shawn Marion? Or Paul Pierce, a pick in the high teens, and whatever asset you might be able to get in exchange for the soon-to-be 35 year old Marion? Is Pierce enough of an upgrade over Marion that you believe you can take that pick and the bounty for Marion's contract and put together a title contending team?
Or, since we're playing the "would you rather" game, would you rather have Tyson Chandler or Paul Pierce?
To clarify, I wouldn't say this would have been an awful trade. Seeing Pierce and Dirk, forever linked by going back-to-back in the 1998 draft, together on the same team would have been fun. I am sure there are legions of Boston fans who would sing the praises of Pierce as a player. I think you still have issues at guard and center that aren't addressed, but perhaps Pierce and Dirk is enough to overcome those, or at least look good trying. Mainly, as I said, I'm just confused. It seems inconsistent, after the sacrifices to get the cap flexibility, and the tireless pursuit of a star who would take the mantle from Dirk.
What do you think? Do you wish this trade would have gone through?