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Report: Celtics almost traded Paul Pierce to Dallas in three-team deal

By Royce Young | NBA writer

Pierce
The Celtics held on to Pierce to make one more one last run. (Getty Images)

Once the dust settled on the 2013 trade deadline, the reaction was simply, that's it?

No major moves, no big splashes, no blockbusters. A few fringe deals here and there, but no big names were dealt, no contending teams shook anything up. A lot of what the deadline revolved around was the Josh Smith situation in Atlanta, and while the Hawks got close to a few deals, including one with the Bucks and another with the 76ers, they ultimately hung on to Smith.

The right deal apparently just wasn't there. But the Hawks had offers, plenty of them. And here's one of the most intriguing we've heard yet, via Yahoo Sports. A three-team deal sending Paul Pierce to Dallas and bringing Smith to Boston.

Before the trade deadline passed, the Boston Celtics had one final choice to make on the franchise's future: In a three-way deal that would've secured Josh Smith and surrendered Paul Pierce to Dallas, Atlanta wanted Boston's first-round draft pick, too.

As much as any of the proposed deals discussed in February, perhaps this had been the closest Pierce had come to parting with the Celtics, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Dallas had constructed a package that included Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and Dahntay Jones to Atlanta, with the Mavericks and Hawks exchanging positions in the 2013 NBA draft.

OK, so this deal. Obviously, the Celtics were hesitant -- as they have been the past three years -- to part with a franchise cornerstone like Pierce. This team has had mutiple "one last runs," but this really looks like maybe the final one. And with them performing better and rallying following the Rajon Rondo injury, pushing that button to blow up ubuntu for good was too tough for Danny Ainge.

I can certainly see the plus side in acquiring Smith, though. The Celtics would've gotten younger and had an interesting stretch 4 player to pair with Kevin Garnett. Maybe even the kind of lineup that could give the Heat problems down the road.

My questions are these: Why would Atlanta do this, and why would Dallas do this?

My guess on Dallas: The Mavs have positioned for this offseason, clearing cap space for a run at a prime target. Pierce is under contract for one more year after this, though next season is non-guaranteed. So they still could preserve their cap space but also have a contingency plan for next season, if a run at a big-name free agent fell through.

Atlanta, I'm not sure I get it. A platter of Crowder, Wright and Jones is nothing, and while the picks would've been OK, they aren't likely to be near the top 10. You'd have to think they could do better in moving Smith than that.

So this was one of those many trades that almost was -- but ultimately wasn't. It would've been a big one, a trade that shook the ground a bit on a deadline day, but all three teams had cold feet, with Boston opting for one more one last run.

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