Should Pierce sign elsewhere, Ainge said that doesn’t mean the
Celtics’ chances at another NBA title over the next two years would
necessarily be aborted.
“There’s too many other things that factor in right now,’’ said
Ainge. “Who else can we get? But it’s not all dependent on getting Paul
back. I don’t think it all rests on his shoulders.’’
“We were negotiating an extension in good faith,’’ said Ainge. “He’s
worked hard to become a free agent, but I still think that in his heart
of hearts he still wants to stay in Boston.
“It’s all a negotiation,’’ he said. “Risk is involved in all of these
things. But I’m telling him that we would like him to come back and
make another run at a title.’’
Sounds like there's a little bit of a game being played here. Welcome to negotiations, folks.
There's a risk involved with opting out as a negotiation ploy. You have a player here in Pierce who has said many times that he wants to come back. Although he has also said many times that he understands that this is a business. So he ultimately will be OK, albeit possibly disappointed, with plying his trade elsewhere. It's good business to opt out right now (because of the CBA, blah blah blah… you've heard that part from us already), but it's also part of the negotiation.
However, opting out gives Danny pause as well… and perhaps an opportunity. He wants Paul back and Paul wants to come back… but that's not necessarily the 2 + 2 equation that will equal 4. Danny wants Paul back… at the right price. Danny is sitting there looking at his own long-term goals of building around Rondo (a point mentioned in Murphy's linked piece). Is he going to handcuff himself by overpaying Paul and removing any cap flexibility.
On the other side, Paul wants to come back… at the right price. He may take the hometown discount in the end… but he's not going to play for much less than he thinks he's worth. In the end, you can justify leaving as a not being able to see eye-to-eye and that's that. We've already gotten the championship in Boston… so he can easily go to another team, maybe win one there, and say "see Boston… this is what you could have had."
So both sides are going to put out little quotes here and there to negotiate through the media. Paul and his agent will speak out of both sides of their mouths and say how much they want to come back… so long as the Celtics play fair. And Danny will speak out of both sides of HIS mouth by saying he wants his captain back… but he's got other options just in case… and his job is to think of the next 3 years, not just the next 3 months.
It's all posturing. It's a negotiation. Its like buying a car and telling the salesman you're done talking and you get up to leave. There's a chance he's going to let you leave… and then you'll have to start all over somewhere else. Or there's a chance he'll come back and sit down with you a little while more… and give in just enough for you to sign those papers.
The thing is… in this scenario… both sides are equal parts car salesman, and car buyer. Both sides are saying "what can I do to put you into a contract extension today?" But both side also have 2 hands on the arm rests and their butts a half inch off the seat.
So get ready to hear a lot of mixed messages over the next few days… or even weeks. It feels like this game is just getting started.