Monday, August 06, 2007

Celtics: is it time to trade Pierce?

This post was in response to talk about the need to trade Pierce and seriously tank/develop youth after losing out on Oden or Durant in the 2007 draft. Posted on 5/26/07.
There is no 'need' to trade Pierce just yet. Quite the opposite I would say. Losing out on the draft brought some clarity to the picture. The only way forward is to use the contracts, picks and players available and make a deal for an impact player. This is the season it is either going to happen... kind of like when Philly rolled the dice with Webber, but hopefully a much better result.

People decry Ainge's ability to swing trades, but one thing he cannot be accused of is rushing into anything. And when taken in context, Ainge is the best GM (de facto) we've had since Red actually called all the shots - better than Wallace, Pitino, M.L., Gavitt and Volk. Now this is faint praise, but on the other hand Ainge has not committed the whoppers that the others had been guilty of - I won't bother to list them all.

Ainge's worst trade is, as far as I can tell, the draft day deal from last season, and I think it would be best to see what he can do with Ratliff's contract in combination with our other resources before ginning up the lynch mob. Can Ainge pull something off? I don't know - so I can't say he is a genius. On the other hand I can't say he is an idiot either. He has avoided making any earthshattering blunders so far... that is, as long as he is able to use the Ratliff contract to swing a deal. So as far as I am concerned the clock is ticking on Danny, but he's not down for the count yet.

Right now we are one of the few teams that has the salaries, talent, and picks to make a blockbuster unaided. As far as I am concerned this season is the real test of what Ainge is capable of. For the past four years we have been digging out of the rubble - what else do you call it when you have 3 first rounders and end up with nothing but Tony Delk for your trouble? Or that we are only just this summer FINALLY rid of Gin Baker's financial legacy?

Am I happy we have been losing these past few years? Obviously no, but on the other hand, there is losing while frittering away assets and then there is losing while increasing assets. I'd rather not be in either category, but if we are losing it is some consolation to see our assets - like Jefferson, Allen, West, Rondo, Gomes and even Green - increase in value. What needs to be done now is to hold onto Pierce, Jefferson and Rondo and do what is necessary to score a game changing PF - I've listed some that I'd target before.

Minnesota in particular seems to be in tough straits - now there is a model for how NOT to add assets to a middle of the road team that is losing. They are weighed down with contracts to mediocre players with years yet to run (ah yes, the wonders of MLE), have traded away a good number of picks, have a star past 30 who can't carry the team by himself.... oh, and by the way their conference just added Oden and Durant for them to face for 4-5 games a year each.

Now *there* is a team that needs to reshuffle the deck (and ironically it is because their ownership has been willing to 'spend money' on the MLE and waste picks in sideways trades). And we may be able to cash in IF they do decide to cash in on Garnett precisely because we have NOT been engaging in the sort of behavior that the 'blame Ainge & ownership' detractors apparently desire. If the Celts do end up back on top sometime in the near future, it won't be due to the luck of the lottery balls, but because of prudent decisions - including decisions not to spend - that will enable them to take advantage of other franchises that have spent for the sake of spending.