Case in point: David West is opting out of his final season with the New Orleans Hornets, and that could be the best news the Celtics have heard in years.
Why, you ask?
Not because the Celtics are getting West, that's for sure. The two-time West All-Star (or is that the two-time All-Star West?) is going to demand a big payday this summer. He signed a five-year extension worth over $45 million back in 2006, but that deal scaled backward such that the final year was worth only $7.5 million. He knows he's worth more than that, which is why he's testing the open market. He deserves a huge raise.
The Celtics can't give it to him. The only way the C's can acquire a player in the $10 million range is by trading a star like Ray Allen. Not happening. West will end up with someone who can offer all the perks: cap space, a big market and a star teammate or two, preferably at point guard. Think New Jersey.
But here's what might happen for the C's.
West's departure might be the start of a larger-scale fire sale in New Orleans. Dell Demps might realize that his team isn't winning anything without its star forward (the Hornets got knocked out of the first round without him in April), and he might begin the rebuilding process early.
That might mean Chris Paul is available for 70 cents on the dollar.
And if that's the case, Danny Ainge will surely come calling.
Let's think big. Let's think about Rajon Rondo for CP3. Why not? It could really work.
Not right away, mind you. Paul will make $16.4 million next season and Rondo will make just a little over $10 million, so they'll need some extra bulk in there to make it work. The C's can wait until after the lockout is settled, re-sign Glen Davis for $5 million, and then send him to New Orleans with Rondo for Paul in the preseason, whenever that may be. Welcome to the Big Easy, Big Baby.
The Celtics would finally have a point guard that can shoot. CP3's presence would make everyone else on the floor better. More open looks for Paul Pierce. More for Ray Allen. With an aggressive point guard that can create for himself, defenses will be kept more honest than ever.
The Hornets would get a young stud they can rebuild around. And between Rondo, Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, they would have a new identity in New Orleans. They'd be a defensive juggernaut.
They'd have their No. 1 guy locked in through 2015. The Celtics would only have Paul for one more year, but after that, their chances of re-signing him will be good (assuming Bird rights still exist after the lockout).
This really could happen. Demps is a young visionary from the new school of NBA execs. He's not afraid to make a big move if it'll help his team long-term.
As for Ainge, he's definitely not gun-shy. Just ask Kendrick Perkins.
David West is moving on, and that's big news. But what happens next could be even bigger. Watch out.
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