Pierce Those Trade Rumors

Everybody and their grandmother has a great trade idea involving Paul Pierce. Or maybe it's just my grandmother. Either way, it's not going to happen because he's in that second tier of production that makes him too talented to dump for draft picks and cash but not quite elite enough to bring back a franchise player.

For example, he would not fetch someone like Dwyane Wade or LeBron James in return, as those are franchise-caliber players. Pierce, by Boston GM Danny Ainge's own admission last year, is not a franchise player, but he is an exceptionally solid player and a legitimate All-Star. Without him, the Celtics are a guaranteed lottery pick this year. With him, they will continue to flirt with the top of the Atlantic division.

You don't want to dump him and tank the season for draft picks because the draft is always a questionable event, even if you have good scouts, luck, and high picks.

Red Auerbach's philosophy as a GM, as told in his recent book "Let Me Tell You a Story," was to get one player a year, whether by trade or by draft. One solid player to add to the nucleus of the previous season. This year, the Celtics got two in Tony Allen and Al Jefferson. Last year, they got Ricky Davis.

Will Pierce be traded anyway, despite my protestations? The fact is he's a terrific player but he's not perfect. You'd like to see him give more outlet passes for the break, though when he does send them, they are usually spot on, and he's clearly an unselfish player. You'd like to see him come off more screens and play tighter perimeter defense. You'd like to see him evolve into a Tracy McGrady or Kobe Bryant kind of player and under the tutelage of Doc Rivers he might get there, at least on the offensive end.

In any event, yes, he could be traded. If he is traded, Boston's most glaring need is a young, fast breaking point guard. Jason Kidd a decade ago. Tony Parker today. Baron Davis when he's healthy.

The best indication to my way of thinking of whether Pierce will be traded or not is what the Celtics do before the trade deadline in regards to their multiple draft picks. If they do tiny little trades that bring back more picks, be they second-rounders or first-rounders, that probably means they are looking to move Pierce, especially if they keep all the depth at the wing spot that they have now: Tony Allen, Ricky Davis, Jiri Welsch.

Of course, it's not a perfect predictor. Boston could always try to package those deals to New Orleans or Atlanta, for example, along with some young but experienced talent to try to move into the top-five of the draft. But still, if the thinking is that they are keeping Paul Pierce, they will not be needing much more youth. Their goal should be to add a point guard.

One view of last night's game against the Suns should be enough to convince anyone of that. The Suns are playing how the Celtics want to play, though with perhaps too much of an emphasis on their amazing three-point shooting (Boston cannot compete in that department). But though they play alright without Steve Nash, with him in the lineup, they are a dominant force. The importance of a point guard can't be overstated especially when it comes to a fast-breaking team like the Celtics. Without Gary Payton this year, they would be at the bottom of the division.

And next year, perhaps even next month, Payton may no longer be around. The Celtics do need a point guard but who would trade such a player for Pierce, and who would want the kind of point guard that other GM's are willing to trade for Pierce?