Paul Pierce is busy in Brooklyn playing up the Nets and Knicks rivalry, but the Boston Celtics team he left behind still has 15 seasons of memories. For Boston's front office, one memory that hasn't been talked about much involves the Celtics nearly ending Pierce's run with them in 2005.
In Bill Simmons' B.S. Report released Thursday, the lifelong Celtics fan chatted with Boston general manager Danny Ainge. About 16 minutes into the podcast, the two got into discussing a trade scenario that included shipping Pierce away for the rights to a rookie point guard named Chris Paul.
Here's the exchange between Simmons and Ainge:
Simmons: "I think the cool thing about (Pierce's) career was he had a lot of success early. And then, you know, he got afflicted by a lot of things that happened to a lot of guys in his generation. Had a lot of money, had a lot of power, stuff went to his head. After the 2005 playoffs, you almost traded him. But he came back that next year ... he was brilliant that whole season. From that point on, you can't argue with one moment he had as a Celtic.
"You see teams give up on young players so often, right? You were almost ready to trade (Pierce) that summer. Now, if you get Chris Paul back for him ..."
Ainge: "That's a big factor. Paul Pierce for Chris Paul. It wasn't like we were trading him for (someone else) ... I love Chris Paul, I think he's a terrific player."
Sticking with Pierce turned out pretty well, especially because of his attitude adjustment and Ainge adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to make Boston a title contender.
In a feature written by the Boston Globe in 2008, Pierce admitted that the 2005 offseason -- after his seventh NBA season -- was the turning point in his career. Butting heads with coach Doc Rivers in 2004-05 didn't help with Pierce's perception, and neither did publicly complaining about being on a bad team.
But in the piece, Ainge admitted that it was a calculated risk to keep Pierce.
"We had to go in one direction or the other," said Ainge. "It was either go with Paul, or go young and start over. There was discussion. We decided we wanted to win with him here, rather than trade him and see someone else win with him."
And the rest is history.
Pierce stuck with the Celtics for another eight seasons and won a title before being traded to Brooklyn this summer. Rivers also lasted as long and, in the podcast with Simmons, Ainge rehashed his relationship with the former Celtics coach. Though he originally wanted Rivers to be a part of the rebuilding process, he understands where Rivers was coming from when he began leaning toward pushing for a way to join the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I hadn't anticipated that he'd want out, but I understand it," Ainge told Simmons. "I understand the Clippers have much more to offer right than we do on the court. I just thought Doc wanted to continue to participate with me ... and try to rebuild this thing as we've done before.
"That's not fun on coaches."