1. Eight Trade Deadline Truths
Marc SteinMarc Stein [ARCHIVE]
Originally Published: Feb 1, 2013

February is here. The first blockbuster deal of trade season has been swung.

And the countdown to the NBA's annual trade buzzer is on.

Teams awoke Friday with a mere 20 days left to try to follow up the Rudy Gay-to-Toronto extravaganza with deals of their own.

So let's lead off this edition of Weekend Dime with eight Trade Truths to get you ready for the deadline stretch run.

1. The truth about Pau


Friday marked a full five years since the Lakers gave Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson new championship life by acquiring Pau Gasol from Memphis.

The Lakers wouldn't dare commemorate the anniversary by turning around and trading Gasol before this deadline, would they?

I still say no.

As poorly as Pau fits with this current mix, I still say that the Lakers have to keep Gasol beyond Feb. 21 because they have no assurances that Dwight Howard is going to re-sign with them. It's just too risky for them to trade Gasol now, just to replace him with a player or two who might ensure they don't miss out on their puncher's chance in the playoffs, when Howard could bolt in free agency and leave them center-less in July.

That said ...

Raptors president Bryan Colangelo, in the wake of the Gay trade, is now openly acknowledging that he's shopping former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani. The Lakers' interest in Bargnani remains a matter of debate in the midst of the Italian's worst-ever season by far, but he can certainly spread the floor better than Gasol does. The not-for-public-consumption message that continues to emanate from Canada, meanwhile, is that Toronto remains intent on pursuing Gasol even after trading for Gay.

At a news conference Friday, Colangelo acknowledged that the Raptors are prepared to stray into luxury-tax territory in the "right transaction." One source close to the situation says Gasol is a guy who fits those parameters ... depending on the rest of potential trade principals besides Bargnani.

So we'll see, over the next 20 days, if the Lakers change their stance on Gasol's availability ... and if Toronto can even assemble a package to tempt them without Jose Calderon's expiring contract to attach to Bargnani.

2. The truth about The Truth


I know Kevin Garnett has a no-trade clause and Paul Pierce doesn't. And I know Danny Ainge is widely regarded as a cold-blooded gambler who'll trade anyone or anything to ensure that the Celtics don't free fall into the basketball wilderness when KG and P-Squared are gone, like Boston did post-Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.

But it's not that simple in real life. Ainge isn't just going to trade Pierce anywhere he wants no matter how many times he tells the story about Red Auerbach openly lamenting that he held onto the Celtics' 1980s glory days too long. If Ainge ends up trying to move The Truth, it's my belief -- out of respect for the way Pierce stuck with the Celts through years of futility and ultimately helped haul the franchise, alongside KG, back up where it belongs -- that he'd try to work with No. 34 to send Pierce somewhere he could get somewhat excited about.

And that leaves only one realistic option: Pierce going back home to Los Angeles with the Clippers for a package headlined by young point guard Eric Bledsoe. Which is the sort of move that would theoretically enable Boston to turn around and shop Rajon Rondo for more fresh-blood pieces.

Yet everything you hear out there to date, heading into these final three weeks before the trade buzzer, suggests that (A) Ainge realistically knows he can't get enough back at this point in Pierce's career to send a Celtics living legend packing and (B) Bledsoe remains untouchable because the Clips, like the Lakers with Dwight and Pau, can't afford to part with their prized QB prospect until they know Chris Paul is signed for the long term.

So the chances of a Pierce deal, at this juncture, are highly remote. Bringing Pierce to Clipperland would have to be classified as a major change to the team dynamic for a team that's always touting its chemistry as is. Yet the only reason you can't rule it out completely is that the Clips -- for all the whispers in circulation that they don't plan to do anything at this deadline unless it's a slam-dunk boost to their title hopes -- might end up needing a deep playoff run to ensure that CP3 re-signs even more than they need Bledsoe as CP3 insurance.

And Pierce would instantly bring them the sort of championship experience and big-game shot-making this team lacks outside of Chauncey Billups, who's been out for ages. The Clips, as tight as they are, could certainly use a shooter/scorer of Pierce's pedigree to help loosen things up around Blake Griffin.

3. The truth about The Truth's team

Deep down, Ainge surely realizes that he probably wouldn't be able to get as much as he'd want back for Pierce or Garnett at this stage of their careers, even if KG ripped up that no-trade clause.

So ...

There's a rising expectation among some of Ainge's peers that Boston will instead try to move out at least one member of the Brandon Bass/Jason Terry/Courtney Lee trio before the deadline to make getting under the luxury-tax...