FanPost

A Trade at the Margins- Idle thoughts on the Celtics Roster

20121031_ajl_ai6_249

Russ Isabella via cdn2.sbnation.com

As is usual this time of year, I've lately been assessing idle trade ideas in my head. Thinking about what may help the Celtics fill an apparent need or two after they have become evident a couple of weeks into the season. I like our roster, the players seems on board if still adjusting to Doc's schemes and rotations, there aren't any obvious chemistry issues, the bench is legitimately talented but, that said, there is always some room for improvement on the margins. I think our biggest concern for this iteration of the Celtics is consistent interior defense and rebounding, particularly talented size when KG steps off the floor about 5 minutes into every game.

Is this such a problem as to limit the Celtics chances at contention? Maybe not. Is it a problem that cannot be fixed with our current personnel? Again, maybe, maybe not. Darko has yet to play meaningful minutes making it hard to ascertain what he could ultimately bring, Wilcox is getting better as the season progresses and he sees more floor time. A few players come to mind that I think would be desirable, and realistic, upgrades for the Celtics based off production, skill set, and salary considerations.

Marcin Gortat (PHX) 7.3 mil- 2 years

Larry Sanders (MIL) 2 mil- 2 years

Derrick Favors (UTA) 4.8mil- 2 years

All of these players are 6'10 or taller, have stellar rebounding percentage rates per 36 min., are still young or relatively young (Gortat) and are excellent defensive presences in the Frontcourt (especially on pick and roll). I have only really thought through a trade for Derrick Favors so far, so I'll provide information and my thoughts for that particular possibility.

A few Advanced statistics for Favors courtesy of basketball-reference.com- current season.

Age

PER

TS%

eFG%

ORB%

DRB%

TRB%

BLK

STL%

WS/48

21

19.2

.516

.450

14.1

20.4

16.8

3.9

1.3

.101

His blocking rate puts him among the top ten in the league and his DRB% among the top 30 (his Offensive rebound rate, less germane to the Celtics defensive strategy is among the top 20). His actual numbers are seemingly modest at first glance for the current season, averaging 9.5 pts/gm, 2.2 blk (not as modest), .5 stl, and 7.6 Rebounds. Utah, however, has an unusual problem compared to most other NBA teams, they have a glut of serviceable big men eating up their front court minutes in Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap, and 2nd year center Enes Kanter (a reason why I think a trade scenario is not entirely unrealistic). The result is that Favors plays around 22 minutes a game, even though he is of a starting caliber. Here are some of Favor's key stats per 36 min. (also from basketball-reference.com) for the 2012-13 season.

FG%

0RB

DRB

TRB

AST

STL

BLK

TOV

PF

PTS

.450

4.7

6.5

11.2

.70

1.6

3.2

2.3

3.5

13.9

His FG% is down this season so far, but it is safe to assume it will gravitate toward his career average (50.3%) as the sample size increases over the course of the season. One thing is apparent from Favors stats, he is a premier shot blocker in the NBA, even in limited minutes, and his rebounding percentage is very good- especially offensively. At 6-10, 246lbs he has legitimate size and at the age of 21 -entering the his third NBA season- he still has explosive athleticism (and considerable room for growth). His mid-range shooting from 15 to 20 feet is abysmal, less than 25% for his first two seasons, although he takes very few shots from that range. From 10 to 15 feet he is only slightly better (below 30%) but, again, he takes few mid-range shots, opting instead to take it inside and score (at a shooting rate of better than 55% within 10 feet of the basket).

What these offensive numbers suggest is that Favors, inserted into the Celtics starting lineup, could not be used in the same offensive role as Bass or Sullinger, the latter favoring the pop in the P&R play, the former favoring the roll. However, his size, athleticism, defensive capabilities, rebounding and inside presence (on offense) would be pluses. To put it as Bill Simmons might, Favors would bring more to the table than he would take off. Paired with KG, whose shooting percentage from 10 to 20 feet hovers around 50% (excellent for a player his size), Favors, hypothetically, wouldn't need to hit mid-range jump shots to score, utilizing his inside abilities instead. The offensive implications are indeed more of a question mark, but defensively, we would be looking at a starting front court that could shut down nearly any team inside and whose rebounding abilities would be among the best in the league, potentially. And, if Memphis is any indication, having talented size and a well rounded team is a good recipe to thwart the likes of Miami.

One possible trade I've considered (I'm sure there are plenty others):

Utah gets Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, plus one or two 2nd Round picks

Boston receives Derrick Favors.

Sullinger for Favors is a simple positional swap (with Boston getting a starter and Bass moving to the Bench once more), Melo satisfies salary requirements and could be replaced by any vet min. contract (like Darko) with Kris Jospeh. Bradley, however, is a key rotational player with tremendous upside. Trading him would only be palatable only if Lee continues to improve as he is better integrated into the Celtics system. Lee has shown flashes of defensive brilliance this season, but can it be sustained every night like Avery Bradley's?

Why would either team trade? First off, the Celtics defense would improve, as would their size and interior presence. Second, while losing Bradley would be unfortunate (I think he's a phenomenal player), Boston has a plethora of capable guards right now in Lee, Terry and Barbosa that provide quality minutes at the two guard. If the Celtics are to make a trade, the main piece will most likely be from their large guard rotation and no one has better trade value (or upside) among that group than Bradley.

Why would Utah make a trade? Utah has looming contract negotiations at the end of this season with the likes of Milsap and Jefferson. Knowing Favors' rookie scale contract ends the following season only complicates matters. There is very little chance, or reason, financially for Utah to retain all three players. Sullinger, a solid rookie with good potential would allow Utah to re-sign both Jefferson and Milsap, since he'll be on his rookie scale for the next four seasons. Bradley, with his premiere perimeter defense, would be a starting guard for Utah, where they are at their weakest. In a way this trade could make both teams better in both the short-run and long-run. In two years the Celtics will have ample cap space to re-sign Favors. Utah improves their guard rotation and keeps their front court rotation intact.

As for Gortat, his trade value is high and may be harder to obtain. Sanders may be an easier piece to acquire without sacrificing as good a player as Bradley, but he would be more of a short-term stop gap for this current roster as opposed to a long term building block like Favors. Admittedly, I find the prospect of a Favors/ Garnett front court intriguing, but ultimately it would have to be for the right price, and giving up Bradley might be a little too much to pay. That said, I think it would be a net gain for both teams.

Unrelated P.S.- I have been trying to create a forum account for several months now but whenever I try I never receive an account activation email, are the forums no longer accepting new users or is the system not functioning properly? Anyone that can help me I would be much obliged. Thanks.

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