The Celtics acquired Gary Payton's contract, now it's up to Boston's marketing machine to actually get Gary Payton. What would convince the Glove to go East?
Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers need to work the same magic on Payton as they did on Mark Blount. Earlier in the summer, Blount had been 99.99% sure, with maybe a few more 9's after the decimal point, that he wasn't coming back. Yet the persistent duo of Ainge and Rivers was able to convince him to stay.
It's time to charm the Glove. What would convince him to either move or miss his family for a year? Payton wants to play his game and he wants to win. Reportedly Payton and Paul Pierce have worked out together somewhat this summer, and we have seen how well such pairings have worked in the past: Ricky Davis has been virtually a perfect citizen in his time with the Celtics, even including his unnecessarily acrobatic dunks.
Has too much been made of the possibility of two potential sour grapes on the same team: Davis and Payton? Yes, they can be temperamental. Who can't? That's a non-issue.
So what else could convince Payton to play 21 home games during the frigid months of December through February?
Can Ainge really promise him the ability to contend for a title?
Suppose Ainge is a bit off his rocker and tells Payton that he's looking to go after Portland's Shareef Abdur-Rahim. That therefore the Celtics would have a potential starting lineup of Payton, Davis, Pierce, SAR, and Blount. It's not four future Hall of Famers, but it might be two. It's not a favorite to win the title, but it'll get into the playoffs, and possibly one of the top seeds.
Payton would get to play an uptempo game. He'd get to post up shorter point guards, something he loves to do. He'd have options in Pierce, SAR, and Davis for racking up the assists.
He won't have the most dominant center in the world to clean up rebounds and defend the paint and put up high-percentage shots, but he will have the league's SECOND-best field-goal percentage shooter from last year (Blount).
If Ainge offers him that kind of vision, can he back it up?
Is there still a way for SAR to come to Boston?
Portland has supposedly rejected many deals for SAR, including Wally Sczcerbiak and Michael Olowokandi from Minnesota, and various packages from Boston. With the loss of Chucky Atkins's medium-sized contract, Boston's options have dwindled.
There are only two ways Boston can get SAR without giving up Pierce:
(1) Boston gives up Davis and Raef LaFrentz
(2) Boston gives up Davis and Michael Stewart, and any two of the following three: Jumaine Jones, Jiri Welsch, and Walter McCarty
Either way, they'd likely have to include the protected first-round pick they just received from the Lakers.
Portland is likely not interested in LaFrentz, given his large and long salary situation. Stewart is just an expiring contract and a good locker room presence: Portland probably would not object to him as long as they receive something of interest in return. Of the three remaining, Welsch is by far the biggest draw.
Welsch can play any of the 1-3 positions, though his time at point would likely be in a backup and limited-minutes role, on an if-needed basis. Still, his versatility would be a great addition for the Blazers.
The biggest problem is that both of those above scenarios involve Davis, who would then be rejoining his former Cleveland teammate Darius Miles. Would that be a good thing?
The biggest problem from Boston's point of view is that it would be a shame to lose both Davis and Welsch in a single deal for a one-year rental of a player.
Payton could potentially be sold on such a package. It changes the starting lineup by removing Davis from the picture but it inserts the explosive rookie Tony Allen as a starter. Not to mention you have Big Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins willing and able to play big minutes. The Celtics would have a mammoth amount of spending money come next summer as large chunks of the roster have expiring deals.
Of course, this is all assuming only a two-way trade with Portland. If Minnesota gets into the act by offering Sczcerbiak and Stewart from Boston, and in return the Timberwolves finally get Davis, whom they have long coveted, Portland could still end up sending SAR to Boston. At that point, however, there are so many variables and parties involved that speculation doesn't add any insight. Bear in mind, of course, that Minnesota's and Boston's GM are close friends, so if any third team would be involved, it is only safe to assume it would be Minnesota.