Well, it's that silly season again. Rumors and proposals are rampant. A lot of players are mentioned as available and another ton are tossed around by fans, all seeking to build a better mousetrap. The real trick is to piece together what is doable and at the same time inch the team closer to the goal - Banner 18.
The latest from the Celtics revolves around "who is on the bus." It appears that the current "locks" are Rondo, Green, and Sullinger. I can agree with and support this core. A week ago, I would also have assumed that Bradley was in that group. His name though has started to pop up as available recently, about the same time as the emergence of Chris Johnson. Interesting or unrelated? Regardless, let's start with the first three and work from there.
Many, but not all fans have missed the rumblings that Brooklyn still wants to "win now" and to do that they might be willing to part with Brook Lopez. At only 25, he has one All-Star appearance, gives you around 20 points and 7 rebounds a game, and is starting to become a real defensive presence at the rim. There is a big risk in will he be able to stay healthy. His last foot operation included a procedure to reposition an adjacent bone so that his foot should not continue to be a problem. Conventional wisdom would say wait and see if it works. Doing so might make it impossible to pry him loose. So I think if there is a chance to land him, you have to go for it.
While the desire might be to keep Green, I don't see any path to Lopez without Green being included. And when you look at the upcoming free agents, Small forward includes some names such as Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng, Danny Granger, and wait for it .... Paul Pierce.
There are several possible paths to get it done. A direct trade of Brandon Bass and Green works. Golden State is rumored to be interested in Bass and is also rumored to possibly trade anyone not named Curry or Bogut. So Bass and Green to GSW and David Lee to the Nets works. Better (for the Celtics) would be Bass and Green for Washington's 13-30 pick and Emeka Okafor to Brooklyn, but this doesn't fit their "win now" mandate.
The point is, this would not be impossible to pull off and would give Boston an All-Star at the 1 & the 5 with another potential All-Star at the 4. In the end, I believe Trader Danny will follow the conservative route and not pursue it.
What I see as more likely trades considering the rumored core being kept would be something along these lines. With the rumors out of Charlotte, knowing they the need an upgrade at both forward slots and that they are looking for a reliable shooter, I could see Kris Humphries and Avery Bradley for the $13.2 M expiring Ben Gordon along with at least the Detroit 9-30 and possibly the Portland 13-30 as well. Gordon could keep Kieth Bogans company. The pick(s) is important here as you will see below.
The next move would be Bass to the Suns (rumored interested party) for Slava Kravtsov and the Washington 13-30 pick. Phoenix was unwilling to move that pick with Okafor for Pau Gasol as it was too much. However they were willing to include a lesser pick. The Bass deal would still leave them the assets in place to maybe pull off the Gasol deal at the eleventh hour, so they might well go for it.
So the trades cut an additional $6.2M from the payroll going into the summer, but why the two and possibly three picks in addition to the two the Celtics already have? Because many seem to think Trader Danny should go after Gordon Hayward.
Utah is in full rebuild mode. They have signaled that they want to keep Hayward and have plenty of cap space next year to match any offer. Unless they get an offer that they can't refuse. Say something along the lines of a small contract like Joel Anthony for salary matching and two first round picks, maybe the Detroit 9-30 from above and Boston's pick with top four protection. (If Embiid, Parker, Wiggins, and Exum are the prizes and everyone else are just very good prospects, does it matter that much where you pick if it isn't top four?) If they don't go for it, you still have the picks and the cap space to pull off something at the draft or the off season.
Think big because anything is possible. Ideally, you end up with All-Stars or potential All-Stars at at least four starting slots. Then you round out the roster with some guys playing above their pay grade. Maybe a Ryan Kelly from the Lakers, a Nate Wolters with the Bucks, or another kid out of Dayton playing well for New Orleans, Brian Roberts.
Perhaps not all of this happens, in fact maybe none. And if it doesn't, I am content to keep our guys and see where it goes. But there are enough quality pieces to shuffle around that this is likely the worst season we may have to endure for a while.