The Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies are three teams who have underperformed to varying degrees this year.
In the case of Memphis, that underperformance has been relatively minor. Folks thought they could be a formidable obstacle standing in the way of the Western Conference’s legitimate title contenders, and that is more or less what they have been. Theoretically they should probably be a lot better than the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors (which they currently aren’t), but it is what it is.
Those other two teams, the Lakers and Celtics, well, their underperformance has reached embarrassing proportions.
After Boston re-tooled its Ray Allen-less roster this summer, a lot of folks had them pegged as a group that could exceed the accomplishments of last year’s group. Given their current 21-23 record and taking into account the fact that Rajon Rondo is out for the season, it’s probably a safe bet that those dreams are dead and gone now.
Similarly, after bringing in two future Hall of Famers to play alongside the two future Hall of Famers they already had, the Lakers were supposed to challenge the Chicago Bulls’ record 72-10 regular season mark. So far, through 43 games, L.A. hasn’t even been able to hit 20 wins. Whereas Boston has sucked – the Lakers have sucked in historically bad fashion.
Generally speaking, underperformance in the NBA usually lends itself to trade talk. Sometimes that talk is realistic, other times it isn’t. This weekend Marc Stein of ESPN passed along a mildly intriguing trade rumor hat falls somewhere in between.
Per his report:
So it's premature, to me, to throw Pierce's name up there with Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol on the list of high-profile names we need to monitor this trade season, even though we've heard more than one rival team speculate that a three-way deal where Pierce lands in Memphis, Gasol goes to Boston and Gay joins the Lakers makes "some sense." Sources say that the Celtics and Grizzlies have indeed held some exploratory trade talks since Gay hit the market.
Whereas most of the truly nonsensical trade speculation that floats around this time of the year is based on hopes and dreams, this one actually makes some sense.
The Grizzlies have long since come to terms with the fact that for some odd reason Rudy Gay just doesn’t mesh with their roster. The Celtics need to blow up their team and begin to rebuild. The Lakers, because of Mike D’Antoni’s ineptness, can’t utilize Pau Gasol’s many, many skills.
Gasol would provide Boston with a legitimate low post, offensive presence. Gay’s athleticism would fit in perfectly with D’Antoni’s preferred run-and-gun style. (In theory, just like Dwight Howard’s was supposed to.) Pierce would offer veteran wing stability to a Memphis group whose lone weakness is precisely that.
Of course, this proposed deal isn’t without its share of drawbacks. Gasol is old and his value as at an all-time low. Ditto for Pierce, though to a lesser degree. And Gay, while he does theoretically embody everything D’Antoni wants, is expensive and injury-prone.
So far, out of all the potential deals involving these three teams that have been whispered about, this one makes the most sense. But given all of the crazy salaries and huge names involved, it will be very difficult to put together.
Can it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Probably not.