But sources told ESPN.com that Pierce is most likely headed to neither one of those teams if he leaves the Celtics this week.
The Celtics do remain hopeful of acquiring a first-round pick for Pierce this week in conjunction with Thursday's draft. But sources said the Celtics have shown an inclination to try to work with Pierce to get him to a favorable destination -- which essentially translates to a contending team -- if they indeed decide to trade him by week's end. The team faces a June 30 deadline to either pick up Pierce’s $15.3 million option for next season or buy him out for $5 million.
If no such deal materializes, sources said, Boston is leaning toward picking up Pierce's option to buy more time to decide how to handle the exit of such a prominent player in modern Celtics history. Despite persistent speculation that the Celtics might buy Pierce out this week, sources say team officials believe Pierce would have trade appeal all the way up to the 2014 trade deadline in February and likewise privately hope that Pierce's ongoing presence on the roster would warm Kevin Garnett to the idea of playing on with Boston as opposed to retiring or forcing his way out, even though coach Doc Rivers has departed to join the Clippers.
The Boston Globe reported over the weekend that the Cavaliers are offering multiple second-round picks for Pierce. The Celtics, sources say, are holding out for a first-rounder.
The possibility also remains that Pierce could be dealt this week to a team that agrees to buy him out of the last remaining season on his contract for $5 million. That would make Pierce an unrestricted free agent -- assuming he clears waivers -- and potentially create an avenue to get him to the Clippers to reunite with Rivers. ESPN.com reported earlier this month that the Clippers, when they initially hatched their plan to go after Rivers, were hoping to acquire Pierce and Garnett as well.