It's Not Time To Trade Ray Allen, ...Yet

The Celtics are looking old and tired and the season has only just begun.  Expiring contracts are pure gold in this market and ones that can still score in bunches and maybe even tutor younger players are a bonus.  So it only seems logical to contemplate trading Ray Allen.  His nearly 20M expiring salary could bring back some high priced talent.  However, before you wade too far into the trade ideas forum, allow me to make the case that it is not time to trade Ray Allen, ...yet.

You are welcome to jump to your own conclusions about this team, but I don't think 14 games is enough of a sample size to determine if they are title contenders or the reincarnation of the late 80's Celtics.  The starting 5 of the Championship team is in tact and has the potential to get on a roll that won't stop till the 18th banner is raised.  For that reason alone you cannot think of trading Ray Allen yet.

I would be willing to bet that if you shopped Allen around the league, you'd find that the value you could get for him right now is not even in the ballpark of Ray's current value to the team.  He may have lost a couple steps and he can't take over games like he once could.  But when he's on, he's still the best shooter in the game.  He is ice-in-the-veins-clutch.  How many times have we seen him hit a game winning shot in both the regular season and playoffs?  That's the kind of guy you want on your side.  He's a constant threat that has to be accounted for, which allows Pierce, KG, Rondo, and others that much more space on the floor to do their thing.  There's just not going to be a player available on the market right now that can do any of that.

I keep saying "right now" for a reason.  Right now, half the league is waiting to see if a few early season losses are merely a slump or the symptoms of larger systemic issues.  So nobody is going to be giving up core players unless they are tremendous head cases.  Sure, you could get a decent (but flawed) player with an overinflated contract and maybe even a draft pick for Ray.  But that doesn't help us win the title now, and ties our hands financially later.

I say this with a reasonable amount of conviction because few teams have seen their situation change all that much since the summer.  All the rumors from the offseason indicated that Danny shopped Ray Allen around pretty diligently.  He knows exactly what Ray is worth on the open market and if it wasn't enough to move him this summer so I'm pretty sure it isn't enough now.

Give it some time though.  Let things simmer until Christmas and see what happens.  If the Celtics are still struggling in late December, they might have to reopen the store for business.  Teams that were holding out hope for a deep playoff run might be willing to punt the season in hopes of cashing in over the summer.  Or perhaps cash strapped teams will take a second look at their cap figures and decide that an expiring deal would be just what the doctor accountant ordered.

Of course I would imagine that Danny's first, second, and third options would be to explore trade options with Scal, Giddens, and Tony Allen.  Those three have been on the discount table for the past year and there have been no takers thus far.  Still, they get more valuable as the summer draws nearer, so you never know.

Now, none of this is to say that I blame Ray Allen for the team's woes.  He hasn't been great but I don't think he's been terrible either.  He just happens to be the easiest to move of the big three.  Pierce will retire a Celtic and KG is the definition of untradable at this point.  If you can replace an aging Ray Allen with a younger almost-All-Star talent, you have to consider that.

Still, the time to consider that option is not now.  This team needs to remain focused on the here and now and how to win the next basketball game.  I still have a lot of faith that the issues that are plaguing this team recently are fixable in nature.  If all goes according to plan, this will all be a distant memory by Christmas and we'll be talking about how the team really came together after some early season struggles.

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