Are we Celtics fans being too shortsighted during this trade season?
After weeks of armchair GM proposals, it suddenly occurred to me that many of us are guilty of considering only trades that help the Celtics become a better team next season. It has been suggested multiple times, on this site and others, that Danny Ainge isn’t preparing for a one-year rebuild. Yet, most of our trade ideas are focused on getting a better player in return or getting 2014 draft picks. What happens if we consider trades that assume we will continue to be a mediocre team next season, intent on making the real splash in the summer of 2015?
(I’m not the first to suggest this. It’s not even a relatively radical idea. It’s simply one that we Celtics fans have not largely included in our Trade Machine hijinks.)
Wouldn’t it, in fact, be a positive thing for the Celtics to consider trading for some unwanted players in hopes of scoring some 2015 assets? Keep in mind, as unhappy as we all are with three years of Gerald Wallace, we did receive an additional first-round pick from Brooklyn for taking his contract. One day, Wallace will be gone and we will hopefully have a young and talented player to show for it. Or possibly the pick we received in taking Wallace will be packaged to another team in the next Kevin Garnett-style trade.
We should also consider that for all of the hype regarding the 2014 NBA Draft, there’s the potential to land a future Hall-of-Famer in the 2015 NBA Draft as well. Not to mention, if we clear all our mid to large sized contracts now, we won’t be able to match salaries should a blockbuster trade present itself in the summer of 2015.
So maybe (obviously) there are trades to be made that we are not considering. Maybe there are some ugly, dirty, Trade Machine nightmares that would make Gerald Wallace to the Celtics look like a sunny day.
We have no further to look than last year to see what I’m talking about. The Utah Jazz took on the contracts of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins from the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors received the cap space they desperately wanted and sent some draft picks to Utah as compensation. No one saw that trade as a loss for the Jazz, keeping in mind that they were not looking to become good in 2014, but setting their goals further into the future.
It can be a hard thing for a fan base to swallow. No Celtics fan wants to endure a second year of a rebuild. But if it is the reality of this team going forward, maybe we should talk about some Utah/Golden State-style trades.
Here is one trade I thought might work:
Toronto’s Masai Ujiri finds himself far from the tanking situation he may have expected come the beginning of the season. After trading Rudy Gay the team has performed well, and now the young nucleus of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Vaanciunas and Amir Johnson look as though they may be one piece away from making some real noise in the Eastern Conference. If Masai likes what he is seeing from his players, he very well may elect to resign Kyle Lowry and look to add one final piece. In order to do that, he will need cap space, both to resign Lowry and to fill the roster with a free agent. Luol Deng could be a hot commodity this off-season, and Deng is the type of player that could fit nicely on the Raptors. Maybe Boston could wrestle away a future asset in order to help Ujiri free up the cap space he would need for Lowry and Deng.
This gives Toronto the expiring contracts they need. Boston would receive future assets and both Fields and Hayes would be expiring deals in 2015 that could help match money in a trade for a star. Novak would expire the following year in 2016.
If Toronto wants to pursue both Lowry and Deng and Boston doesn’t expect to be good next year, the trade makes sense.
The trade isn’t attractive to look at, but neither was the idea of Boston taking Gerald Wallace to squeeze an extra draft pick out of Brooklyn, or Utah taking Jefferson and Biedrins for two of Golden State’s draft picks. However, I know that I’m happy we have those draft picks from Brooklyn and I’m sure Utah fans are happy that they have Golden State’s draft picks as well. With three 2015 first-round picks, Danny Ainge would have a lot of ammunition to help the Celtics get back to winning in 2016.