The Cs have 24 games until the trade deadline. If they go 9-15 in them, for example, would KG and Pierce think about finishing out their careers on a team with a legitimate chance for a title?
I'd like to think that both players would prefer to go down with the ship, fighting till the end, but they're both winners who deserve better than to waste their final years on a middling team.
Would KG agree to finish up in Chicago for Thibs? The Cs could ask for Taj Gibson, the rights to Nikola Mirotic, who projects to be a very good NBA player, and Rip Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich for money ballast to make the trade work. The Bulls would also get Wilcox and Barboza.
Chicago ends up with a big rotation of KG, Noah, and Boozer, the best big grouping in the league, and can use Barboza and Wilcox at the end of their rotation. Assuming Rose comes back, a line up of KG, Noah, Deng, Rose and Belinelli, with Boozer, Jimmy Butler, Barboza or NateRob and Wilcox would be a good one. The Bulls could bring in a buyout wing at the deadline to shore up the roster.
Boston adds a young big in Gibson and a great prospect in Mirotic. This trade could bring in some other teams to ship Rip and Hinrich elsewhere for expiring deals and picks.
Pierce would have to go to a contender who is close to a title. OKC could send Kevin Martin and his expiring deal, along with Jeremy Lamb and a pick. Pierce would give OKC a more versatile scorer who plays defense and has championship experience. Pierce should similarly benefit from playing on such an offensively talented team (Martin shooting 47% from 3, 9% higher than his career mark of 38%. PP is a career 37% from 3). OKC would get two years of Pierce to run at the title. They'd be in tax hell next year, but would be at around the same payroll if they re-signed Martin to close to what he's earning now.
Lamb has great upside as a prospect, and Martin could either be shipped in this deal to a team that needs him this year, or re-signed/S and T-ed in the summer.
This year's roster as they play out the string after the Feb 21 deadline:
PG: Rondo, Hinrich ($4m/1 year remaining -or someone more useful/expiring)
SG: AB, Martin (expiring), Jet, Rip (or someone more useful, $5m team option next year)
SF: Green, Lee, Lamb
PF: Gibson, Bass
C: Sully, Melo, Collins
With Mirotic coming next season.
The Cs would have a young core of Rondo, AB, Gibson, Sully, Melo, Lamb, Mirotic, Lee and Green, which is pretty good. Ainge can clear out Hinrich, which should be easy, Terry, and Bass in the summer. Or Ainge could combine a young asset or two with one or two of the vets to bring in an all star level player.
The key to the deal is if Mirotic and Lamb can become big time NBA players. For financial reasons, Mirotic probably won't extricate him from his Spanish team until the fall of 2013, but he's a Dirk like player who opened a lot of eyes when he played NBA teams in the pre-season. Big upside there.
Lamb is young, but should become an excellent defender who can also shoot and score. He would benefit tremendously by getting minutes with a great set up PG like Rondo.