While Ainge has lamented how little value his veterans have on the trade market, if he chooses to trade Paul Pierce and/or Kevin Garnett, the Memphis Grizzlies and New Jersey Nets could be their next homes respectively.
One team that rival execs expect to be at the forefront of the Pierce pursuit is Memphis, which delayed but did not solve its long-term payroll concerns by getting under the luxury-tax line with last week's trade with Cleveland. While Memphis can survive for the rest of this season without trading Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, it still cannot sustain such a top-heavy payroll for the next two seasons. Pierce would keep the Grizzlies dangerous -- arguably, make them more dangerous -- for the rest of this season, and allow them to reorganize their spending as soon as next season.
Would some big-spending contender -- the Nets, perhaps -- be willing to go all-in with a two-year rental of Kevin Garnett, whose ferocity and defensive leadership would cost $12.4 million next season plus the $6 million he'll be guaranteed in 2014-15 at age 38?
Celtics are in a difficult situation. Obviously KG would have to sign off on any trade due to his no-trade clause. Not sure if Pierce or KG would want any part of being on a rebuilding Celtics team, so f they're going to move on eventually, do you trade them now while you might actually get something of value in return? Or do you let Pierce leave on his own (to another team) in the Summer and KG retire and get nothing? It's been reported that Ainge laments not being able to pull off the Ray Allen/O.J. Mayo trade last year. I'm sure many names will be discussed up to the trade deadline. Seeing Pierce in Memphis or KG in Brooklyn would be surreal. Or either of those guys on any team for that matter. Sometimes the business of the NBA sucks.
Related: Rondo's injury may signal end of Big Three Era
Video: Doc Rivers discusses the loss of Rondo and moving forward
Celtics don't need to blow it up. Not yet.
Stein: Celtics and Grizzlies have talked, Pierce/Gay/Gasol trade 'makes some sense'
Ainge shopping Paul Pierce?