Josh Smith was never meant to finish out the 2012 season in Atlanta. The team tried to trade him multiple times before the deadline, but was never able to pull off the feat. Now, as the offseason approaches and Smith is set to become a free agent, a trade might again be possible, involving Paul Pierce.
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Pierce was also not supposed to finish out the season with his respective team. The Celtics came very close to sending him to the Dallas Mavericks, something that could also be revisited come the offseason. Pierce is owed upwards of $15 million from the Celtics and owner Danny Ainge does not seem too keen on handing that money out. In an interview with the media on Tuesday, Ferry said the first step in the offseason was to decide the fate of Pierce. He noted the Celtics were more than one player away from a Championship, but that may or may not include Pierce.
Boston was very close to moving Pierce to the Dallas Mavericks prior to the trade deadline, but the two teams could not work out the ideal deal. Now, a three-way trade could be secured, featuring two big name players. Boston is looking to secure Smith. The Mavericks would get Pierce and save salary cap space. The Hawks would get Dallas rejects.
This has been the closest Pierce has coming to parting ways with the Celtics. The Hawks and Smith are eager to move past one another. A sign-and-trade would get Smith the most money in a contract while also giving Atlanta something in return. The team plans on making a push for Dwight Howard and want as much cap space as possible to offer him a max contract.
Dallas is looking to save on cap space as well to make a run at Howard or Chris Paul. Getting Pierce in a trade would allow the team to keep their flexibility. Mark Cuban is intrigued by the idea of having Dirk Nowitzki and Pierce playing side by side for at least a season.
There are plenty of complicated factors that could either allow this trade to happen or have it completely fall apart like it did earlier in the season. The offseason has not even begun and the rumors of several marquee players making big moves has already started. This is a trade that was supposed to happen a lot sooner so it is not crazy to believe that it might happen again.