Danny Ainge on the "very hard" decision of what to do with Pierce

Paul Pierce is a Celtic legend and will one day have his number hanging from the rafters.

But, will he ever wear a different uniform?

We've seen that Danny Ainge has been very hesitant to move Pierce in the past. We've heard rumors of deals that could've sent him to the Nets, or Mavs. We heard that the Celtics could've gotten Josh Smith for Pierce this trade deadline. However, each time trading Pierce is dangled in front of his face, Ainge backs down.

The reason he's kept Pierce is not only because of his history with the franchise, but also because he's given the team the best chance to win. However, Pierce might not be enough anymore due to his age and the surrounding pieces and Ainge might have to finally act this off-season. With the team falling to the seventh seed and then to a 3-0 deficit to the Knicks and still likely looking at a first round exit, management can't be as confident in this group anymore.

Kevin Garnett is apparently taking as long to get ready for practice as he does actually practicing. The toll his body has taken has to make you think that retirement is once again realistically in the cards. Without Kevin Garnett, the Celtics have no chance. Even Pierce has said that.

So, Ainge must decide the direction of the franchise. Does he trade Pierce, buy him out? Maybe they keep Pierce, the decision is in Ainge's hands and it's a tough one.

"What's important to understand, yeah, it's going to be hard for fans and everybody else, but as far as what's doing what's best for the Celtics, it's probably going to be very hard, too," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "It's not a no-brainer. It's not like you get a 21-year-old All-Star player, or you get the number one pick in the draft [if you let Pierce go]. Those decisions would not be hard, but I have a feeling the decision is going to be very hard, yeah."

It wouldn't be popular with the fans, that's for sure. The silver lining is that Pierce has said that he would come back on a 1 day deal to technically retire a Celtic. So there's that.

As great as we feel about the team after last night, dark times could be ahead. Such is the NBA.