The Deadline Tolls

The Deadline Tolls
February 21, 2013, 12:30 pm
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LOS ANGELES — In the moments after last night’s 113-99 loss to the Lakers, Doc Rivers fought his way through the post-game media scrum that had formed outside the visitors’ locker room. After finally emerging from the sea of sweatyness, Rivers gathered himself for a second, looked straight into the camera and presented his opening statement:

“Well,” he said. “We’re going to trade them all now.”

Doc was joking, but he was also recognizing the elephant in the room. In this case, that no one really cared about what had just transpired between the Lakers and Celtics. That if only for one night, the greatest rivalry in NBA history was nothing more than background noise; green and gold wallpaper. That even as Boston hovered within striking distance for most of Wednesday’s loss, there was only one question on everyone’s mind:

What happens next?

So . . .

To be honest, your guess is probably as good as mine. With only a few hours left before the trade deadline, we’re all stuck in the same demented NBA Matrix; where everyone’s gone mad and there’s no way to tell the difference between a rumor with substance and one born out of a random reporters’ acid trip.

But just for fun, here’s my somewhat educated opinion —

Will Pierce and/or KG be traded?

I say there’s a 15 percent chance, and have three things to add:

1. Trading Pierce and Garnett isn’t something the Celtics (especially the owners) want to do, but it’s something that Danny Ainge is willing to do.

I know we say that every year, and that it rarely amounts to much, but it’s worth saying again.

2. Right now, it’s easy for the front office to fold their arms, stick out their tongue and claim that they’re holding out for a perfect Pierce/KG offer. But with that being said, it’s going to get wild down the stretch.

As time slowly (and then quickly) ticks away on the deadline, there’s no doubt that there will be offers on the table, emotions running high and that Ainge will find himself in the position to ride a hunch on his set of steel balls and usher the next era of Celtics basketball.

3. It’s all about KG. He has a no-trade clause, and he’s not afraid to use it. So far, he’s sworn that he will use it, and done it so adamantly that you’d be nuts to question his word.

BUT — what if Pierce goes first?

What if Danny calls Garnett this afternoon and says: “Listen, we just sent Paul to Milwaukee (?) and we’ve agreed on a deal to send you to LA. I know this isn’t what you signed up for, but here’s what the Clippers can offer: 1) A chance to live at home in Malibu. 2) A chance to finish your career with your best friend Chauncey Billups. 3) A chance to play with the best point guard in the league, mentor one of the next great power forwards and, without question, contend for another title.

So, what do you say?

What do you think he’d say?

Will Rondo be traded?

Ehh . . . one percent. I won’t say it’s impossible because, who knows? Maybe David Kahn gets into his silly pills and offers Ricky Rubio, Nikolai Pekovic and Derrick Williams. In that case, fine, trade Rondo.

But in reality, what’s the market for a 27-year-old (next week) head case with a recently torn ACL?

(I love Rondo, but if you don’t think he’s a head case then . . . oh come on! We don’t really need to have this argument.)

Will ANYONE be traded?

Yes! I’ll give it a 51 percent chance, which is to say that I believe it’s more likely that something — however small — happens, as opposed to nothing at all.  

Why? Because if the Celtics stick with Pierce and KG, that means they’re playing for THIS year. And if they’re playing for THIS year, that means they need another big man. NEED. ANOTHER. BIG MAN. As for potential targets, Marcin Gortat is still alive and kicking down in Phoenix. The Blazers will move J.J. Hickson for the right price.

May I interest you in DeMarcus Cousins?!

Just kidding. (I think)

Or maybe the C’s will go the alternative route and dump some salary (Brandon Bass?) to sneak under the luxury tax threshold?

Either way, it makes sense for them to mix it up.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO SAY?

Why yes —

For all my trade deadline uncertainty, I’m 100 percent sure that rumor season has run its course, and can’t wait for what lies ahead in our post-3 pm world.

The prospect is a little frightening. Even if it’s unlikely, the idea that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have played their last game in green is overwhelming. And if it plays out that way, I’m really not sure how I, or anyone in Boston will react.

It will be a monumental moment in Celtics, Boston sports and NBA history.

But even if the deadline passes without a whisper, it’s clearly time for it to pass. As of this morning, it’s like we’re all extras in Ghostbusters II and these rumors are the pink slime that’s infested the NBA world. I mean, damn — the rumors killed the Lakers/Celtics rivalry. Have you ever cared so little about the Celtics getting their butts kicked in LA on national TV?

Does anyone care that the C’s have now lost two straight, and three of their last four games? Or that they’re once again closer to the eighth seed than they are the sixth? Or that clear and present holes have emerged in this post-Rondo framework?

Of course not. With the rumors and impending deadline, it’s impossible to care about anything. All because of what we don’t know. Because of what might happen next. I tell you what, when three o'clock comes and goes this afternoon I just might crank this song on my iPod and dance around the apartment.

Sweet freedom!

Unless Doc wasn’t joking in that original quote.

In that case: It’s about to get weird.

But for the first time since rumor season kicked into high gear, at least it will be real.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rich_levine