I know, I didn't believe it either.
According to Bob Finnan of The News-Herald, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge plans to buy out the last year of Pierce's contract:
Sources indicate Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge will likely buy out forward Paul Pierce's $15 million contract for next year ($5 million is guaranteed). If that happens, Grant should be first in line to try to acquire Pierce's services. However, before anyone gets too giddy, Pierce will likely want to go to a serious contender.
The premise itself isn't entirely unbelievable. Pierce's future in Boston has been up in the air for the past few years, and reports suggest that the star forward himself doesn't expect to be back in Beantown next season.
But Cleveland? The inside scoop on the intricacies of Boston's situation are coming from a Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer? Seriously?
Forgive me in advance for having my doubts.
Rivers, though hardly thrilled, would be more inclined to endure a rebuilding era than Garnett. His future isn't likely to be as directly related to that of Pierce's as some would believe.
Garnett is a different story.
If the Celtics elect to sever ties with Pierce, do we really see Garnett coming back? It's not like cutting Pierce's cord creates a wealth of cap space Boston can use to chase star free agents.
Pierce's departure would save the Celtics roughly $10 million. They already have more than $73 million in salary commitments leading into next season. Sans Pierce, they're still over the salary cap.
Boston could decide to move forward without Pierce for financial reasons. With him gone, the Celtics wouldn't be paying into luxury tax. Yet anyone who thinks the 15-year Celtic will be cut strictly for tax purposes is insane.
Beantown wants to save money. Paying top dollar for a faction that cannot contend isn't conducive to success. Spurning your leading scorer for nothing in return just to save a few bucks isn't either.
No, Pierce's exodus would be part of a grander scheme. We better believe Boston would attempt to fetch something on the trade market first, and even if it doesn't, we had better believe he won't be the only one leaving.
The Celtics aren't going to rid themselves of Pierce "just because." He'll be just one of the many forms of collateral damage there are en route to blowing up the roster and starting over.
When that day comes, if it ever comes, expect the news to come out of Boston or someone who maintains close ties with the organization—not Cleveland or Memphis, Atlanta or even Neverland, for that matter.
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