By Ben Golliver
All three of Boston's premier players have now found themselves in rumors in advance of Thursday's trade deadline. Will any of them actually move?
The Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets have discussed a trade for Celtics star Paul Pierce, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Nets' offer centered on forward Kris Humphries, guard MarShon Brooks and a first-round draft pick, but the Celtics want a more substantial package to consider moving Pierce, league sources said. ... Boston has shown interest in guard Mirza Teletovic and securing another possible first-round pick, but the Nets have shown no inclination to pay that steep of a price for Pierce.
The New York Post reports that there's "not much" to the talks between Boston and Brooklyn.
Pierce joins guard Rajon Rondo and forward Kevin Garnett to find himself in rumors this week. Celtics president Danny Ainge reportedly told Rondo's agent that his client would not be traded while Garnett said this weekend that he would not waive his no-trade clause, thus ensuring he remains in Boston.
A trade scenario between the Celtics and Nets would seem to be problematic for a number of reasons. The two teams are division rivals and are jockeying for playoff position; the Nets are currently in the East's No. 4 spot while the Celtics are No. 7. Moving Pierce without receiving a player of a similar caliber amounts to punting on this season, and Boston doesn't have much motivation to do that if Garnett remains in the fold. The temptation will be to take their chances with a veteran core and hope for favorable match-ups to make a postseason run.
If a star-type player doesn't return for Pierce, the Celtics would at the very least need to acquire some worthwhile assets. Humphries, significantly overpaid given his contributions this year, and Brooks, who isn't a home run prospect, isn't exactly the type of return you would expect for a player of Pierce's caliber and experience.
The Humphries/Brooks package has also circulated as a possible combination in a deal for Hawks forward Josh Smith and Humphries has appeared in a trade rumor involving Bobcats guard Ben Gordon, although the New York Timesreported Wednesday night that Brooklyn was no longer interested in that deal with Charlotte. The key point: It's possible that Pierce's late mention in the hours before the deadline is a by-product of other Brooklyn dealings. It's worth noting that the veteran forward took the court for the Celtics on Wednesday night against the Lakers.
Pierce, 35, is averaging 18.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He's on the books for $16.8 million this season and $15.3 million next season.
Humphries, 28, is averaging six points and 6.2 rebounds in a reduced role this season. He's on the books for $12 million this season and $12 million next season.
Brooks, 24, is averaging five points in 11 minutes. He's in the second year of a rookie contract that can run through 2014-15.