Rajon Rondo Wants Rudy Gay on the Celtics, Is Paul Pierce Trade Bait?

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterJanuary 13, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 2:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies takes a shot over Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics during the game on January 2, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Hell yeah, Paul Pierce is trade bait.

Right now, Pierce is a pair of sneakers on the clearance sale rack at Foot Locker, just in a hidden room for preferred clientele. He has a team option for next year but has publicly stated he wants to "see what it feels like to be a free agent for once in my life."

We've heard that one before.

With the possibility that Pierce will be leaving the Celtics and the team unlikely to contend for a title, he's made himself expendable as a trade chip for the future.

Pierce is still playing at a high level but not high enough where he gives Boston a realistic shot at dethroning the Heat. If Danny Ainge can acquire a fresh, young talent for a 35-year-old who might just bolt after the season, I'm not even sure there's anything to think about.

CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported that the Celtics are open to discussing Pierce in trades, and with only $4 million of his $15.3 million salary guaranteed next season, Pierce's offense and experience comes without long-term restraints.

Cue the Memphis Grizzlies.

Memphis has been shopping Rudy Gay and the $37.2 million he's owed over the next two seasons in order to avoid a monstrous tax bill for a small market owner.

Coincidentally, Gay happens to be good friends with Boston's Rajon Rondo, who according to Gay, always tells his buddy "We need you over here."

Rondo knows the deal. His team has a ceiling that doesn't reach the finals and few young players to build with moving forward. Boston needs an athlete who can play above the rim and handle primary scoring duties for the next chapter of Celtics basketball.

Whether this is something Memphis would even consider is another story. Berger reported that the Grizzlies were looking to acquire a young player and not just dump salary.

You could argue that Pierce would actually be a good fit for Memphis right now, who could use a guy that's actually been there and done it. He'd slide comfortably into the 3-spot and essentially play the same role he's played his whole career.

Trading Gay for picks or unestablished talent does seem like a step in the wrong direction for a team that's headed on the way up. If it were me, I'd keep Gay and build with what they have, but I also don't pay the bills. That would really suck.

If Boston wants to acquire a substantial building block for the future, Pierce is likely the guy it has to dangle in the shark tank. With the team's star point guard in favor of Gay, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Rondo help hold the fishing pole.