Thursday, December 18, 2014

Trade Season Offically Underway


With the NBA trade restriction ending on signed free agents and other players, the NBA trading season is well underway. While usually there aren’t many deals made this early on, one of the more respected NBA reporters; Yahoo SportsAdrian Wojnarowski has been tweeting out about lot of chatter despite it being this early, although no imminent deals just yet. Among the teams he listed, as being the most active was the Boston Celtics. What does this mean for the C’s? Well at 9-14 they are most likely sellers, but anything is possible with Danny Ainge.

The Celtics currently have four players under roster that have expiring contracts or opt outs, and could contribute to a contender. These four players – Rondo, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Marcus Thornton are the most likely to be traded. So what can the Celtics expect in return for any of these players? And will the Celtics make a move to get better now?

There have been rumors about Rondo’s future as a Celtic for what feels like an eternity now, but so far nothing has come of it, except for a few teams as of last night like Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles Lakers and even the New York Knicks who are among the ones interested. I still think there is a decent chance the Celtics can re-sign Rondo this offseason, but it's far from a guarantee and if Danny Ainge doesn't think Rondo will re-sign or isn't comfortable offering Rondo a max deal (debate for another time) it makes sense to trade him now to get some assets in return. Sacramento is also rumored to like Rondo, and with the owner wanting to make the playoffs now, a deal would make sense. What can the Kings give in return? Well that’s the problem. It has been said that Ainge has a very high asking price for Rondo (rightfully so), but teams are not willing to give up that much for a player that could immediately bolt in free agency. The Kings have a couple of interesting pieces in young shooters Ben McLemore and last year’s eighth overall pick Nik Stauskas. Other than that they don’t have too much young talent they would be willing to give up, and are ineligible to trade their first round pick as they owe one to the Chicago Bulls at the moment. I think Ainge will try to hold out until he is offered a high potential pick or a solid young prospect or a combination of the two. Look for any potential Rondo deal to happen down the road.

Photo: Getty Images
Jeff Green has been playing very well this year and his having a career year averaging almost 20 points per game and being the most consistent Celtic so far.  He currently has a player option for next season worth about 10 million dollars, and whether he accepts it or not is very up in the air. Earlier this year, it was actually reported that Jeff Green’s trade value is actually higher than Rondo’s to many GM’s around the league. Since then he has done nothing but play well. He fits many needs for contending teams that are missing a swing player with size that can score the basketball. With the way he’s been playing, look for his value to be a couple of picks or younger players of value that could be nice assets for the Celtics. But, there is always the possibility with the way he has been playing lately that the Celtics decide to keep him and try to extend him, which I would not be opposed to doing. It will be interesting to see what will come of Green, as I think a lot of people are underestimating his trade value around the league.

Brandon Bass and Marcus Thornton are two players the Celtics are more likely to move, but also have much lower trade values.  Similar to the Jordan Crawford trade last year, the Celtic’s can expect to receive a late first round pick if they are lucky, but more likely a couple future seconds or a younger player with not too much upside. But more importantly than the return the Celtics get from these guys, dealing them will free up more playing time of the younger guys and a better chance to develop. Trading Thornton will give more minutes to the two rookies of James Young and Marcus Smart off the bench. Brad Stevens has already been on record saying Young would see consistent minutes while Thornton is nursing a hurt calf if Young himself were not hurt. It would be really nice to see what Young could do in the NBA after playing well for the Maine Red Claws of the D-league.

But what if Ainge decides to flip the script and trade for some proven talent? Well there are a couple names that have rumored to be very available for trade, including Lance Stephenson, Greg Monroe, and basically the whole Nets roster. Lance is an interesting name, but the fit with the Celtics is a little tough since the Celtic’s just committed to Avery Bradley long term and drafted Marcus Smart. Greg Monroe is a nice player, but is also a free agent after this year and has a no trade clause. And the Nets players (Johnson, Lopez, and Williams) all have huge salaries and injury issues, so there is no real interest there. The Celtics are more than just a veteran pick up away from contending, so don’t expect Ainge to try to make too much of a splash at the deadline in terms of buying.

Photo: USA Today
So what would I like to see happen by the deadline? I would definitely like to see Bass and Thornton moved to both clear up minutes for younger guys and to acquire some small assets or more picks. But like Sean Dutra wrote yesterday, the next couple of weeks are really going to determine what the Celtics do before the deadline. If they start winning a lot more games and figure out how to close the fourth quarter, I wouldn’t be opposed to see Ainge stand pat with the roster and try to give these guys a chance to get some playoff experience. But as the Celtics continue to be mediocre or possibly even slide down in the standing some more, I would definitely expect to see Bass and Thornton out the door with Green and Rondo being shopped heavily.

The key to being a Celtics fan this year is patience. While I won’t totally rule out this team making the playoffs as a low seed in the weak east, this team still has a long way to go to become championship contenders and getting banner number 18. The Celtics have a lot of good young talented players in the roster, and an arsenal of first round picks the next several years. I would say as far as a rebuilding team goes; the Celtics are in a great place. But as they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ This year’s trade season should be very busy and exciting for Celtics fans. It could be a player I didn’t even mention that ends up getting moved, so keep on high alert from now until February, because anything is on the table for Danny Ainge.

Will Burke
Follow me on twitter: @will_NBA33

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