The time the Mavericks almost made a trade for Paul Pierce to go with Nowitizki

Celtics’ legend Paul Pierce is headed into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend following his 19-year NBA career, 15 of them with Boston. With that comes a rehashing of the career that got him to this pinnacle of the sport.

But that career almost took a major turn in 2007 when Pierce tried to force his way to Dallas in a trade, something Chris Mannix wrote in a cover story for Sports Illustrated about Pierce going into the Hall.

In spring ’07, Pierce ran into Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in Las Vegas. Pierce told Cuban: I’m your missing piece. Pierce pushed Schwartz to attempt to engineer a trade to Dallas. “I’m in my prime, and I’m watching all these other guys in the playoffs,” says Pierce. “It was depressing. I thought I was out of there. I thought it was over.”

Then Mark Cuban confirmed the story and said it was closer than anyone realized.

Instead of trading Pierce, Danny Ainge engineered trades to bring Kevin Garnett from Minnesota and Ray Allen from Seattle to Boston. The rest is history: Pierce, KG, and Allen won a title for the Celtics in 2008, and now all three are in the Hall of Fame.

Kidd and Nowitzki went on to win a title in 2011 without Pierce, but in 2007 the Mavs would have gotten peak Pierce (he averaged 25 points and 5.9 rebounds a game, shooting 38.9% from 3). He would have added another major scoring threat and a shot creator, making the Mavericks a serious threat to the Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol Lakers of that era. Dallas would have been formidable.

Instead, add this trade to the massive pile of near-deals that would have reshaped the NBA had they come together.

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