Just ask Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge if he anticipates any moves coming before opening night and he'll tell you that there could be. Ainge said, "We have some work to do. We have a few too many guaranteed contracts . . . We have to make some adjustments, and we're very busy trying to put the best team on the court. But there could be some changes this summer, yes."
For the next couple of weeks I am going to ask one simple question about each player that could be on the block: Should the Boston Celtics keep or trade him before the start of the regular season?
In the third part of the "Keep Him or Trade Him" series, we are going to take a look at Fab Melo. He's a 23-year-old center that was drafted with the 22nd pick in the first round last year. Melo primarily played in the Developmental League, where he averaged 9.8 points, six rebounds, 3.1 blocks, and 26.2 minutes in 33 games. Melo is only on the second year of his rookie contract, but it's not guaranteed after this season.
Why Keep Melo?
Even though Fab Melo has been the butt of C's fans jokes -- after hitting his head off a doorway, breaking a chair during rookie media day, and just playing lackluster basketball -- I don't think Fab gets enough respect for his development as a player. When Fab was first drafted I was very disappointed because I disliked his game at Syracuse and didn't much potential. However, he has started to give me hope after his season in Maine. Fab has started to develop the basics of an offensive game and has improved dramatically defensive.
Fab averaged 3.1 blocks per game in the D-League and set a record with 14-blocks. Watching the way he moved in the summer league, Melo has made significant strides as a rim protector. He has better off-ball awareness, is better at finding his man, and appears to commit less careless fouls. When rebounding, he isn't where he needs to be, but he has shown a willingness to block out. With his size and strength, it could be only a matter of time before he's grabbing every rebound and he's supposed to and more.
Offensively, he needs a lot of work. He's not nearly aggressive enough when going up for dunks; in fact, he rarely dunks. If he receives the ball off of a dump-off pass he tends to go up for a layup instead of taking advantage of his size and attempting a dunk. While this is a problem, he has developed a hook shot that he didn't have this past summer. Remember, Fab Melo has only been playing the game of basketball since he was in the ninth grade. These improvements might seem insignificant, but they are a sign that he might have un-tapped potential.
Why Trade Melo?
There are two primary reasons the Boston Celtics would trade Fab Melo: first, the Celtics don't believe he can be a quality NBA player. After two runs in the summer league, a full season with the Maine Red Claws, and some time in Boston, the organization might realize they made a mistake with their draft pick. They'd be better off dealing him now before he loses all of his value and nobody wants to take a chance on him.
Secondly, Melo could be a useful addition as a part of a package deal. Since the Celtics need to get rid of more than just one player, Fab Melo is the type of player that could be the difference between a deal happening or not. Because Melo is a 7-foot center with an NBA-body and shot-blocking ability, there is talent there that a team could value. In this hypothetical case, it might make most sense for the C's to get rid of him.
The signing of center Vitor Faverani (also Brazilian, like Fab) and the draft pick of center Colton Iverson could also signal that the team is ready to move on from Melo. Even though Fab Melo is probably the least-NBA ready player right now, he likely holds the most value since he has the highest upside of the three and therefore is the most easily tradable player.
What Would I Do?
Fab Melo deserves the chance to prove himself and I don't see much use in getting rid of him now unless it's necessary to upgrade the roster or acquire a future asset. I don't see any other teams wanting Fab outright unless he's packaged with another player. Even though Melo hasn't consistently shown that he can be an NBA player, unless you're getting something quality in return, it's not worth dealing a guy that you spent a first round draft pick on. The best way to improve your skills -- no matter what it is in life -- is to perform with people that are better than you. A full season in Boston will only do good things for Fab Melo and I hope it's with Boston.
What would you do? Vote on the poll, comment below, and tweet me @Kevin__OConnor with your thoughts.