NBA trade rumors: Grizzlies expected to chase Paul Pierce

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The loss of Rajon Rondo to an ACL tear could lead Celtics general manager Danny Ainge to make some drastic moves. That could include trading away Paul Pierce, who the Grizzlies reportedly may have some interest in.

With the loss of point guard Rajon Rondo to a torn ACL, rumors are already swirling about the impending breakup of the Boston Celtics. The player at the center of those rumors is veteran Paul Pierce, who has been with Boston his entire career.

CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports that the Memphis Grizzlies are likely to inquire about a potential Pierce deal:

One team that rival execs expect to be at the forefront of the Pierce pursuit is Memphis, which delayed but did not solve its long-term payroll concerns by getting under the luxury-tax line with last week's trade with Cleveland. While Memphis can survive for the rest of this season without trading Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, it still cannot sustain such a top-heavy payroll for the next two seasons. Pierce would keep the Grizzlies dangerous -- arguably, make them more dangerous -- for the rest of this season, and allow them to reorganize their spending as soon as next season.

Most likely going out in any Pierce-to-Memphis trade would be Gay, the man who has been the center of trade talks for the past couple of weeks. Many figured Gay would stick around for the rest of the season following the Grizzlies' cost-cutting trade last week, but with Pierce now possibly on the market, Memphis may be more willing to re-open discussions.

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As Berger mentions, replacing Gay with Pierce arguably makes the Grizzlies better right now, although both players are having sub-par seasons by their standards. Gay is having his least productive season since his rookie year, averaging 17.0 points on 40.4 percent shooting overall and just 30.1 percent from three. Pierce is at 18.7 points, but he's shooting only 41.9 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three-point land.

Still, Pierce has a ton of playoff experience and has a knack of hitting huge shots in the postseason. Perhaps some of that magic is gone now, but at this point, Pierce seems like a much easier guy to trust in big moments.

This move also makes sense financially for Memphis. Both Pierce and Gay are set to earn more than $16 million this season, so there would be little difference there. But next season, Gay is guaranteed to earn more than $17 million whereas Pierce's contract is currently guaranteed for only $4 million. So this deal would help now and in the future.

Naturally, Celtics fans are none too thrilled about seeing Pierce's name floated around in trade rumors. Over at CelticsBlog, Jeff Clark gave a rather simple response to Berger's rumor:

Blah. I hate this.

To help somewhat comfort Clark and other Celtics fans, ESPN's Marc Stein tweeted out Monday morning that the Grizzlies were unlikely to chase Pierce because they would rather address other deficiencies if they were to move Gay. There's also the fear that Pierce would be unhappy with the move. Stein followed that up by saying while the Celtics have some interest in Gay, adding a big long-term deal seems unlikely at this point.

Let the fun begin.

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