Let me preface this column by stating 2 things:
1) This isn’t rumor, I have no inside information, and this is simply me thinking out loud.
2) As a dedicated Lakers fan, I love the Celtics like a Yankees fan loves the Red Sox.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, the Lakers and Celtics can actually help each other this summer. It starts with this trade proposal; Paul Pierce for Pau Gasol. It works and makes sense for both teams.* Let’s get into this, shall we?
It’s no secret that Pierce’s days in Boston are very likely over; he is due $15 million next year, the last year of his contract, which the Celtics have a team option for for $5 million, and the Celtics are looking to cut spending and rebuild. They aren’t looking to pay a player entering his late 30’s whose skills, while still very much legit, are absolutely in decline. Therefore it has been widely speculated that Celtics GM Danny Ainge will first look to trade Pierce, and if that proves un-successful. will likely buy his contract out for $5 million.
As for Gasol, it’s no secret he has been on the trade block for 2 years now (fans will bitterly remember that he was in fact traded for a few hours as part of the Chris Paul deal). Though younger than Pierce, Gasol is still on the wrong end of 30, and his body gradually breaks down more every season, which has obvious effects on his still impressive skill set and has made trading him more complicated. He is in a similar contract situation as Pierce, and after another disappointing season, it is again widely assumed Gasol will once again find himself on the trading block this summer.
Since Ainge traded young starting center Kendric Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder two years ago, the Celtics have been in desperate need of a BIG. Kevin Garnett has impressively filled the void left by Perkins, but he is closer to retirement than Pierce, and the Celtics have next to no big men to back him up, let alone play alongside him. Besides, Garnett is much better suited (and made his HOF career) as a power forward.
Gasol would absolutely fill that void for the Celtics as he is a PF/C hybrid, and often plays both positions for the Lakers (he was the starting center on the 2009 championship team). He would provide much needed relief for Garnett, and the two of them would form a formidable front-court. He would also come in with an expiring contract, which would make him an even more attractive trade asset.
Bringing Pierce to the Lakers would immediately provide another scoring option. Pierce can easily create his own shot, which of current Lakers, Kobe Bryant can really only do effectively. Pierce is also a solid defender (he’s given LeBron James fits over the years), and a 3-point threat. He also has experience playing with a pass-first point guard (multiple years with Rajon Rondo), so the transition with Steve Nash shouldn’t prove to be difficult. Pierce would provide a much-needed upgrade over Metta World Peace (who could be amnestied to make room for Pierce). Like the Celtics getting Gasol, Pierce would be bringing his expiring contract with him to LA, which again always makes for attractive trade bait.
Now this trade will likely never see the light of day (again, this is just me thinking out loud), but it’s fun to think about, mainly because the finances work, and frankly, it does make sense for both team to pursue.
*This trade assumes Dwight Howard re-signs with the Lakers this summer.