There are a lot of different ways to go about the rebuilding process and a lot will depend on what opportunities present themselves to Danny Ainge. While it is possible that we could take the slow, steady route of building through several drafts, that sounds long and painful and doesn't always produce the kinds of results you'd want.
If I had my druthers, I'd want Danny Ainge to gather up a bunch of trade assets and pull off something similar to what he did back in 2007. Thankfully he's already started that process and you could argue that he might end up with a better package of trade chips than he had back in 2007.
Granted, there was a lot of fortune and luck with those deals as well. Star players aren't available all the time (though it does seem like one or two pops up on the market every year). It takes a perfect timing and a lot of negotiations to make it work and even then most deals fall through.
Still, you have to put yourself in the position to make the right moves or you'll never catch that lightning in a bottle.
So I figured I'd break down the trade assets then with what Danny Ainge is holding in his poker hand right now.
July 31, 2007: Traded Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 1st round draft pick (Wayne Ellington) and a 2009 1st round draft pick (Jonny Flynn) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett.
So let's put these in order (and remember to consider their value at the time - so hindsight isn't really fair).
- Al Jefferson - future star low post player
- Number 5 pick in the lottery - became Jeff Green
- Theo Ratliff's expiring contract
- Gerald Green - raw talent, upside
- 2009 1st rounders - picks are valuable, but less so when they are 2 years away
- Delonte West - solid young backcourt player
- Sebastian Telfair - disappointing but still a lot of potential
- Ryan Gomes - decent rotation player, solid locker room guy
- Wally Szczerbiak - overpaid and hurt too often but occasionally putting up points
- 2nd round pick
(Worth noting that Ainge also had Rondo and Perkins but was able to hold onto them. Also note that Ainge used the 2nd round he got from Seattle and turned it into Glen Davis - not bad drafting.)
Looking back, it is mind boggling that that crop of lottery talent turned into Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen but at the time there was at least potential in a lot of those players.
Now let's review what we've got. Again, I'll put them in order by what I think is the most valuable pieces (though you are welcome to debate these with me). First of all, I'm putting Rajon Rondo in the Paul Pierce category of "we're building around him, not trading him."
If we are going to compare apples to apples and assume that Ainge follows the same general plan, then the C's would have to hold onto two of those assets in order to maintain a core to put around Rondo and whatever they get in return.
I find it hard to imagine a situation where we deal our first round draft pick this year unless it is outside of the top 5 and even then it might be tricky. That 5th pick we traded away wasn't supposed to be as strong as this draft is.
Then it comes down to Avery Bradley, Sullinger or Olynyk and it would depend on what's coming back (if it is a big man, then the taller guys are more expendable). Also, it might depend on who we draft (if we get Wiggins, then maybe Bradley is more expendable). For the sake of this discussion, I'll just assume we hold onto Avery Bradley.
So the rest of the list goes like this. (Keeping our 2014 first rounder and Avery Bradley)
- Jeff Green - good enough to be a starter or key reserve on a title contender. Potential to be even more.
- Jared Sullinger - undersized but smart, looks to be a long time starter if injury concerns are aliviated
- Kelly Olynyk - lottery pick considered the steal of the draft by GMs
- Brooklyn's 2014 first round pick - won't be lottery but a first rounder is still valuable
- Clippers' 2015 first round pick - most likely not lottery
- Expiring Contracts: Kris Humphries, Kieth Bogans
- Brandon Bass - solid addition to a playoff team
- Gerald Wallace - expensive but talented and hard working
- Courtney Lee - really needs to prove his worth this year
- Brooklyn's 2016 first round pick - unclear where it will land but the further out you go the less value it is now
- Brooklyn's 2018 first round pick - who knows?
- MarShon Brooks - kind of a toss in with some potential but we'll see if he can work his way up this list
- Right to swap first round picks with Brooklyn in 2017 - well that's always nice
I think Jeff Green could be an Al Jefferson type of centerpiece. Green might have less upside compared to what Al Jefferson was perceived to have at the time, but he's got a wide range of talents that could be helpful to a lot of teams.
A top 5 pick in any draft is probably more valuable than Sullinger or Olynyk - especially since we got them much lower than that in the draft. So we'll concede that point to the 2007 assets. On the other hand, Sullinger and Olynyk are probably better than any of the Gerald Green, Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair trifecta.
When you start tossing in all the future draft picks we currently have, I think the scales tilt heavily to the current trade assets.
Humphries and Bogans work the financials nicely if you need a expiring contracts to match salaries. As a bonus, Humphries can even still play.
If you want to go down this road, a combination of Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee would be better than one Wally Szczerbiak and could match salaries if a team was willing to take on the extra years.
Tally it all up and I think the Celitcs are in a much better position now than they were in 2007 in terms of trade assets. Now all we need is for some teams with superstars to decide that they are willing to deal them in order to start over and begin a rebuilding process of their own.