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Could Boston get a max player? Almost, but would they jettison Pierce to do it?

Jun 30, 2010, 11:17 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Pierce_leaning.jpgCan you picture Dwyane Wade as a Celtic? Chris Bosh? Even that other big name? Reshaping the Celtics around that player and Rajon Rondo?

It’s not impossible. But it’s not very likely either.

Here’s how it shakes out. The Celtics have more than $15 million in room under the cap on paper, but not in reality. Yet. Pierce opted out of his contact, but under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement there is still what is called a “cap hold” on the Celtics. It holds the place of the salary the Celtics are expect to sign if Paul Pierce came back. The goal is to prevent a team like the Celtics from signing Wade or another free agent, then re-signing Pierce and Allen using their “Bird rights” (the rights of a team to go over the cap to keep a player).

What that means in English: To sign a top free agent the Celtics could have renounce their rights to Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and every other free agent on the roster. Sorry Tony Gaffney.

That all combined with the retirement of Rasheed Wallace — which he announced but is not official with the league yet — would leave the Celtics just $55,000 short of one max contract.

However, renouncing the rights means the Celtics cannot bring Pierce back. At all. He is off to wallow in Clippers losses, or wherever he lands.

All of that does not sound like what Danny Ainge has planned — he wants to work out a deal with Pierce. That’s what he told the Boston Herald.

“There’s too many other things that factor in right now,” said Ainge. “Who else can we get? But it’s not all dependent on getting Paul back. I don’t think it all rests on his shoulders…”

Ainge would rather negotiate with Pierce than renounce his rights, pointing to the fact that the Celtics general manager still believes that his captain still wants to return – albeit at a heavy cost that could tie up the team’s flexibility for four more years.

Pierce could tie be given a four-year, $96 million deal (that’s what he wants, not to be a free agent under the coming and less fun for players CBA). But with Garnett’s contract expiring in two years, would the Celtics want to tie up their salary cap for four years, slowing the eventual rebuilding around Rondo? Would Pierce accept a two year deal? Two years with an option for a third? At less money than a max deal?

Ainge has some hard choices ahead. Do you start the rebuilding now? Can you get a player of decent quality of Pierce goes? Do you really let an iconic Celtic like Pierce finish his career as a Clipper?

Hard times, hard choices in Boston.

  1. ByeBye - Jun 30, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    These aren’t hard choices. Pierce is worth about 14 mill per year. Pay him 25 if you want. Bye, Bye.

  2. vera - Jun 30, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    well i think to me its not all about the money i know that Pierce will do the best for em and his fans

  3. E-ROC - Jun 30, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    Pierce just isn’t the same guy he once was. Like at all. I don’t want to be in Danny Ainge’s shoes, but if he chose to go in another direction, I would not be surprised. The Celtics are getting older, maybe quicker than we thought. Signing someone like Rudy Gay or Joe Johnson would not shock me at all.

  4. Dave G - Jun 30, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    Money and greed is destroying the game. The fans are the only ones who really are getting hurt by this show. The fans should boycott the NBA and send the message that we are tired of the lack of loyalty of the players, and owners. We are tired of the professional wrestling like deals, games, acting and arrangements. I am done and hope the rest of NBA fans are too!!!!

  5. yoyo - Jun 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Pierce is worth about 14 million a year, and he deserve that, we shouldn’t give him more, we should get Rivers to play for us, and phil, yoyo

  6. ajs01 - Jun 30, 2010 at 5:39 PM

    wow! this writer went out on a limb..I love the line
    “it’s not impossible. But it’s not very likely either.”

  7. dman - Jul 1, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    The core of the Celtics is old. They gave it their all this year, beat 2 teams nobody gave them a chance against and came within 1 game and a bad knee injury of beating the Lakers.
    But… you could see that Paul Pierce & company are getting old, collectively. Individually, Garnett, Pierce & Allen are still capable of playing great basketball. But as a team, when 3 of your key players are in their mid-30s, then you are not going to be able to compete with younger, more energetic teams.
    …so waive Paul Pierce a fond fairwell. I’ll always respect the way he played in Boston and 2008 was a great championship. But the current team will never win another one.

  8. cfan - Jul 1, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    as a lifelong c’s fan (nearly 50 years) i say that he’s absolutely expendable. in fact, you can’t sign him to a max contract. makes no sense. he’ll end up hurting them for years as he gets older. i’ve always thought that pierce is one of the most overrated players in the league. don’t even put him in the same breath with the elite. good player, just not as great as people think.

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