It’s fun to lose and to pretend
With the recent comments from Wyc Grousbeck regarding "some fireworks," and Danny Ainge’s own recent comments relating his expectation that the Celtics will be "relevant" next season, I’m beginning to think this rebuild could be faster than I first anticipated. (Or maybe that’s exactly what they want me to believe.) For the purposes of this post, however, I’ll pretend I’m a true believer and that there are plans drawn up to attempt to make the Celtics good quickly.
I have to think that any plan for excellence next year would have to be completely centered on trades. Our possibility of drafting a franchise-changing player seemingly dwindles every day. (We are currently at number 7 in the seeding with games remaining against Philadelphia (twice), Detroit, Atlanta, Charlotte and Cleveland). It’s hard to imagine the Celtics’ lottery luck placing them in line for a top three pick. Also, the free agent market for this coming summer is bleak to say the least. There are not a lot of game-changing players that will be available, and the Celtics don’t have enough cap room to make noise in free agency that would generate "fireworks." So if we assume that Wyc and Danny’s words are more than just selling hope, it would seem that there are trade ideas in place that could make the Celtics a good team next year.
The Celtics, thanks to moves by Ainge, are in a very good spot to make deals this offseason. The team is ripe with moveable contracts, have enough cap flexibility to facilitate trades, and have plenty of first-round draft picks to sweeten any pot.
Now here’s where the entertainment comes in. I, a completely inexperienced non-NBA professional, will attempt to suggest the path the Celtics could take in assembling next year’s team. (You may laugh). I will most certainly suggest things that are not possible, for reasons I’m probably not aware of, but why would I allow things such as ineptitude and ignorance to prevent me from voicing my opinion? (This is America, after all. We were built on the ability to voice inept and ignorant opinions). So anyway, I’m incredibly bored and here… we… go.
Step 1: Love
The assumed most-available-in-a-trade star is Kevin Love, and for whatever one might think of his game, or his defensive deficiencies, he would certainly make the Celtics a better team immediately. Any team would have to give up quite a bit of assets to land Love, but the Celtics might be the most prepared team to do so. How about this nugget of a trade idea? The Timberwolves send Kevin Love to the Celtics for Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Keith Bogans’ contract and both Boston’s 2014 draft picks.
Step 2: Asik
It is well documented that one of the Celtics’ biggest weaknesses is interior defense. Some might argue that Minnesota’s downfall was pairing Love with Pekovic, both interior men who are more offensively than defensively driven. If the Celtics land Love and hope to make waves in the Eastern Conference, revisiting the Omer Asik trade makes sense. Asik butters his bread with good ole’ D and with a little cajoling, the Rockets may let him go. I would propose a sign-and-trade of Kris Humphries and add in the L.A. Clippers 2015 first-rounder for Asik. For the purposes of this trade I’ll wager Humphries would sign for around 7 million. It’s a drastic pay decrease from his current deal, but I highly doubt he would expect that kind of money again.
Step 3A: Balancing the Roster (Trade)
Unfortunately this team would find itself with Gerald Wallace as their only small forward option. Danny Ainge might be inclined to swing a trade with the L.A. Clippers that would send out Brandon Bass (PF) and bring back Jared Dudley (SF) and Willie Green (SG).
Step 3B: Balancing the Roster (Re-sign Bradley)
Avery Bradley may not be the best shooting guard in the league, but he is at least showing he has value. (If he can stay healthy). Re-signing Bradley for 5 million sounds like something the Celtics would be willing to do.
This would give the Celtics the following roster:
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley, Chris Johnson, Willie Green
Small Forward: Gerald Wallace, Jared Dudley
Power Forward: Kevin Love, Kelly Olynyk
This roster is roughly at 68 million with regard to the salary cap, and IMO looks good enough to be "relevant" in the Eastern Conference. This specific roster would also have roughly 30 million dollars in contracts that would expire or could be cut in the summer of 2015. This would enable the Celtics to re-sign Rondo and either re-sign Asik, or go for another big man in free agency. I don’t think this roster wins a banner, but I do think it would set the Celtics up with a very good team that might be able to add the perfect piece in the summer of 2016 when Wallace’s contract expires.
So in conclusion, With the lights out, it's less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us. I feel stupid and contagious. Here we are now, entertain us. Yeah.