After executing a pair of deals that reeled in two Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to go alongside Paul Pierce; thus changing the NBA landscape, the league’s new ‘Big 3’ hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the 2008 Finals.
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The trio not only guided Boston to its first championship in 22 years but also opened an ideal championship window for the veteran core. Fans eventually coined the nickname “Trader Danny” for Ainge’s wheeling-and-dealing ways, which by 2013, of course, led to the end of Pierce and Garnett’s, respective, tenures with the Celtics in a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets.
However, according to Dallas Mavericks’ majority owner Mark Cuban, Pierce was nearly re-routed to Dallas.
Mark Cuban On Trading for Paul Pierce: ‘We Had a Deal Done’
In a response to a picture posted on Mavs Nation’s Twitter page, which references a quote from Pierce’s interview with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix — where Pierce shared he told Cuban he wanted to join the Mavs — Cuban says a proposed three-team swap that would have sent Paul to Dallas was nixed at the final hour.
“We had a deal done,” Cuban tweeted. “We had a 3-way trade done. All teams agreed to their part of the deal. When we get on the trade call, the 3rd team killed the deal because they didn’t know that a first was going to the Celtics. They chose not to do the deal at all.”
Danny Ainge’s Response to Mark Cuban: ‘That Never Happened’
Ainge, who did a recent interview with MassLive.com’s Brian Robb, was asked about Cuban’s recent remarks in regard to the alleged trade.
“We were never close to trading Paul in that time,” Ainge said, per MassLive.com. “That never happened. I don’t have any recollection of that. I don’t believe it ever happened. I know that we never have a trade call involving Paul Pierce. I know that nothing ever got close. There was some conversation in there but we were never close to trading Paul at that time. We were trying to win championships then. Paul was the captain of our team. I don’t know what Marc is referring to but that didn’t happen.”
It’s difficult to tell which timeframe Cuban is talking about. While the quote from Pierce is about a time when Paul was unsure if he was a part of Danny’s long-term plans in 2007, the Dallas billionaire owner could be referring to 2010-11, after the Celtics lost Game 7 of the 2010 Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Some considered the end of the ‘Big 3′ era was near in summer 2010 — which aligns perfectly with the Mavs’ 2011 championship quest. Either way, it’s difficult to envision Ainge trading Pierce in either scenario.
Especially, considering Paul’s mere presence alone was the deciding factor for Danny when he accepted the front-office job, back in 2003.
“I was not in love with the Celtics roster but I was in love with Paul,” Ainge said, per MassLive.com. “I love everything about him. I loved how hard he played, how much he loved to play. It was hard to find anything wrong with Paul. Just a young player who had wonderful upside. On top of his talent, he just had a great mentality and mindset, a great competitor.”
And, in 2007, getting Pierce the help he needed, according to Ainge, was always the goal.
“We sat down with Paul and discussed with him that we felt that he had been a great teammate, a great solider for the Celtics and he deserved an opportunity to win and we were going to do everything we could to try to put a winning team together,” Ainge said, per MassLive.com. “If we couldn’t, then we would try to move on to a different place but our goal was try to put a team around him.”