We are just over 20% through the NBA schedule and 4 months away from the playoffs. So we have plenty of time to work through some early season struggles and evaluate the team we have right now.
However, it is only natural to look around the league and see if there's anyone that might become available that would be an upgrade or even just a better fit with our team. We've already heard some Marcin Gortat rumors and as the weeks tick by, you can expect to hear a few others as well.
The NBA trade deadline isn't until February 21st, but December 15 marks a kind of open season when it comes to trade discussions. On that day, teams are allowed to trade most players that signed as free agents in the offseason. For example, the Celtics will have the option of trading Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Chris Wilcox, and Jason Collins. Due to some fine print CBA rules, we can't trade Brandon Bass or Jeff Green until January 15.
The names that Celtics fans are more than willing to put up for trade are Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Bass. All have under-performed to expectations thus far but that means that their value won't be as high as you'd hope. Still, they have contracts that can be fit into the trade checker to match larger salaries, so they'll get brought up a lot.
With all that said, if you were another NBA team looking to rebuild and you had a player that the Celtics wanted, who are the two guys that you'd ask for in return? The first two names you'd highlight would be Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger. They represent the kind of high upside that teams crave but of course that's also why we'd want to hold on to them.
So the question becomes, just how valuable are they? You wouldn't trade either one for a band-aid move or a lateral move, but you'd have to consider it if it meant getting an All Star level player under 30 years old. So where's the line? What do you need to get to give up Bradley or Sullinger? It all depends on the package in return, but it helps to have a solid idea of what you've got.
We all have very fond memories of Avery Bradley, but I would caution against thinking that he'll be the instant cure for all that ails us. Consider what this NBA scout had to say about his game.
Avery Bradley started to show consistency on defense last year, and he also showed glimpses offensively. He looked like he could become an important part of their team going forward. I'm not 100 percent sold on him yet. He can guard the 1 or 2, but offensively he doesn't think the game well enough to be a point guard. And he has got to be a better shooter to be a 2. They took a lot of pressure off him last year so he could just play and didn't have to think about having to run offense and defend as a point guard. He has got to become a knock-down guy because you can't play him and Rondo together unless one of them is 35 percent or better as a three-point shooter. Otherwise, you'll be able to sink in the paint and take away those cuts. But right now because of his defensive pressure, he's a hard player to ignore.
Reportedly Bradley has been working on thinking through the point guard position, but there's only so much you can do from the bench. I'd also argue that it is really, really difficult to learn the point and some never do because they don't have the natural instincts for it that others do. With that said, having a defensive specialist is always a good thing even if you don't get much from him on offense.
What about Jared Sullinger? I believe it was 14 other teams that passed on him in the NBA draft. A lot of that was concerns about injuries that may have been overblown, but some of it was his lack of size and athleticism. He's got the smarts and work ethic to overcome a lot of that, but he's got his work cut out for him against bigger, faster lineups.
This isn't to knock either guy. I'm a huge fan of both players and I'd really like both to grow up in green and white. Still, when you start evaluating trades it is best to keep an objective eye and see things from a non-biased perspective as much as possible. There's no such thing as an untouchable player. Well, unless he's a guy like Garnett with a no-trade clause. (And with apologies to wjsy, Pierce is about as close to untouchable as there will be.) Bradley and Sully are available ...at the right price. You gotta give to get, and if we have to give up either one or both of these guys, we better be getting a good upgrade in return.
(note: you can also join in the discussion on this topic in the forums)