With Rajon Rando, far right, out for the season, are Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett,far left, Paul Pierce, second from left, on the trading block? (Photo : Reuters)
As the NBA trade deadline looms closer and with Rudy Gay already having been shipped out from top contender Memphis, the Boston Celtics might be more open to parting with some of their star players than previously expected.
Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge said on a radio show interview Thursday that while his team was not currently involved in any major trade talks, the Celtics would be open to any deal that would be open to any deal that would make the team better in the long haul.
"We are open and listening, but we don't feel pressure to do anything," said Ainge. "Whether we win every game or whether we struggle, I think it all depends on what opportunities are presented. We want to make some change to help improve our team."
That statement comes on the heels of their young superstar Rajon Rondo tearing his ACL last week against Atlanta, which leaves him sidelined for the season.
Without Rondo, the Celtics, who made it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season, are looking to be in dire straits, having struggled all season and compiling a losing 22-23 record.
The most valuable pieces the Celtics can trade are their two other big stars Paul Pierce and All-Star starter Kevin Garnett.
Garnett has been having a down year statistically, averaging 14.9 points and 7.3 rebounds, which is lower than his career averages of 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds. However, the 15-time All-Star and former NBA champion can help a team with his rugged defense and interior presence.
Pierce leads his team in scoring with 18.7 points per game and the career-long Celtics player has made a career out of scoring clutch baskets. As only $4 million of his $15.3 million contract next year is guaranteed, Pierce has the potential to attract contending suitors.
While Ainge says that he hasn't been approached regarding any trade talks for Pierce, the GM said he would keep his longtime franchise piece in the loop.
"Nothing has been talked about with Paul," said Ainge. "Nothing is close to being done. I too would like to see Paul retire as a Celtic.That would be great. We're all attached to Paul. He's been great for the city, the franchise, and he's been a true pro. Having said that, if something came up I would talk to Paul. My job is to do what's in the best interest of our team, regardless of my personal ties or my personal feelings with the players."
Garnett came to Boston along with Ray Allen in the 2007 offseason, forming the Celtics' "Big Three" of Garnett, Allen and Pierce that lead the team to a 2008 NBA title and two NBA Finals appearances. However, talk of breaking up the aging stars has been circulating for years, and Allen jumped ship to Boston last summer.
Regardless of what happens with Garnett and Pierce, one thing Ainge won't do is shop for another point guard to replace Rondo while he's on the mend.
"He single-handedly carries us every night, and I don't know how people don't see that," said Ainge. "It's silly. He's a great, great player, and he's proven that time and time again. The guy's been MVP of probably four or five series over the last five years. He's been the best player in a series against LeBron James. He's been the best player in a series against Derrick Rose. He's been the best player in three games in a Finals series. The guy has done too many good things. The question is, 'Are the pieces right around him?'"