With the Josh Smith rumor mill churning at full-speed, it seems that Boston has entered the mix for his services.
ESPN’s Marc Stein is reporting that Danny Ainge has “registered interest on the Smith front”, which immediately means “THE DEAL IS IMMINENT!!!!” (insert sarcasm here). Let’s take a look at the possibility (or unlikelihood) of a Boston deal coming together.
There are three different eight-figure salaries on the Boston roster that would be close to “matching” for a Josh Smith trade. Kevin Garnett makes just over $11.5 million per season, Rajon Rondo is on the hook for $11 million, and Paul Pierce soars over the others at over $16.7 million. One of these players would almost have to be included in any deal for Smith, simply because Jeff Green (the team’s 4th-highest salary) is a player on a horrendous contract and I can’t fathom Danny Ferry centering a Smith deal around three additional years of Jeff Green.
Kevin Garnett is not coming to Atlanta. KG has a full no-trade clause (one of the only guys in the league with such a deal) and has repeatedly stated his allegiance to Boston, with a recent statement that he “bleeds green” as additional emphasis. The only situation that anyone could see Garnett waiving his no-trade rights for would be to play in Los Angeles, because he a) lives there, b) is best friends with Chauncey Billups, and c) could win a title this season. Atlanta can’t provide any of those things… so he isn’t coming.
Rajon Rondo tore his ACL a couple of weeks ago, and any possibility of a blockbuster deal surrounding him probably died with that injury. On paper, a Smith/Rondo trade actually makes some sense, as Boston could have been looking to “change things up” and Atlanta would almost certainly have interest in an all-world point guard on a modest (relatively) contract. Alas, I can’t see anything coming together with Rondo on the shelf.
That brings us to Paul Pierce. ESPN’s Stein references that a deal “would almost certainly have to be built around Paul Pierce” and I couldn’t agree more. Basically, his inclusion would likely be the only way that Boston could provide both matching salary and fair value. With all of that said, however, does Danny Ferry really want to build around Paul Pierce (at age 35) for another full season at max-level money? I would argue that the only reason to pursue Pierce, or a player of his ilk, would be to push the team into full-fledged “contender” status, and shipping out Smith to acquire Pierce certainly wouldn’t do that. The other (negative) side is that, while the deal makes some sense on paper for Boston, I’m not sure that Danny Ainge would ship out the long-time face of his franchise for a half-season, no-guarantee acquisition of a temperamental guy like Smith. I just don’t see it.
In the end, rumors are just rumors, and I do believe that Ainge and Ferry (or their minions) have spoken about a Smith trade. That said, I don’t see a real match here and I’d honestly be floored if anything came together in a two-team trade with these parties.
At the very least, Danny Ferry can probably take solace in the fact that the legendary Celtics franchise are interested. Every little bit helps.