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Celtic Suicide Hotline: (Possible) Life After Oden and Durant

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As the NBA season comes to a close, there has been a disturbing tenor running rampant on the message boards concerning the team’s “need” for one of the top 2 picks. While the prospect of adding Greg Oden or Kevin Durant is truly ideal, there is life after those selections.

I’ve posted two articles attempting to explain the potential buyers market this NBA offseason is going to be, especially for a team holding a high pick in this lucrative draft. Not getting one of the first two picks certainly will cost the Celtics more of their existent talent, but a quality return can be had without liquidating its primary youthful asset, Al Jefferson.

A complementary frontcourt All Star for Jefferson to play with and develop alongside of is an obvious boon, as teams with two frontcourt studs are rare and always successful. {styleboxjp width=300px,float=right,color=black,textcolor=white,echo=yes}But the premise that this team cannot acquire a high-level frontcourt talent without relinquishing Jefferson is false. If may be difficult or improbable, but not impossible.{/styleboxjp}

The Hickman and Gilroy show this evening lambasted all Celtics fans that believe in a positive alternative to the Oden/Durant sweepstakes. They stated in particular that there was zero possibility of acquiring Paul Gasol without trading Jefferson, sighting that Memphis would “demand it.” The logic is that the Celtics actually don’t have any valuable trade commodities beyond Jefferson, Rondo, and the pick.

MY contention is that the pick in and of itself is a substantial chip in this offseason market, and that trades depend much more on the circumstances surrounding the teams looking to consummate a major deal. There are innumerable permutations and out-of-site issues that prevent many deals from coming down, but a laymen’s starting point for understanding what may happen this offseason begins and ends with knowing the basic principles surrounding the NBA trade market.

pau.jpgThe following is just a simple breakdown of the potential contenders for Pau Gasol based on nothing more than the assets and team scenarios that would be necessary to satisfy all parties involved: Memphis, Gasol, and Gasol’s prospective team…

1. What teams have the mix of expiring money and prospects to consummate a deal with the Grizz. (Its known league-wide that the Grizz will look to move money and build through cheap, exciting talent.)

2. Out of those teams, which are franchises that currently have another superstar or a legit chance of becoming better to the point of satisfying Gasol's desires? (Like it or not, superstar players do have an influence in the trade process because the receiving team needs assurances they're not getting a malcontent.)

3. Additionally, which teams are in a position to acquire a Gasol-level player as the logical move for team building going forward? (IE, teams aren't going to trade Gasol for Pierce, KG for Jason Kidd, etc...its going to be prospects and expiring deals for rebuilding in exchange for big time vet helping new team take next step.)

If you factor in these 3 points, the market for these players shrinks from 30 teams to about 6 to 8. I won’t count Toronto in this equation because of the infeasibility of trading Bargnani a year after obtaining him and the lack of high-end youth on their roster. Out of the “contending” teams:

The Bulls, Hawks, and Bobcats don't have the contracts to match in order to acquire, and only the Bulls would be an attractive landing place from Pau's perspective.

Portland has the contracts and the young talent, but would be a hard-sell for Pau, could be a contender though.

The Lakers have Andrew Bynum, which is their biggest chip, and they've got expiring deals, so they could certainly be in play.

Seattle has some interesting talent, a pick, and some contracts, but is in utter disarray. They're not attractive to Pau, have ownership issues, and are searching for a new stadium.

Phoenix could be a dark horse if they are hell-bent on switching it up and having more of a traditional center who can run. They've got three draft picks and could trade one of their core guys. Phoenix has sworn they're not taking on more money and wouldn't with a Marion/Pau swap for example, but there have been rumblings from Suns ownership about cutting cost via leveraging their picks to justify a glorified dump of Marion-hence the Noah and Durant rumors...

Boston has Pierce as a lure for Gasol. Keeping Jefferson out of the equation the team has a 3-5 pick as an asset, Gerald Green, Rajon Rondo, Delonte West. Plus the team's own pick in ‘09 and/or Minny's future pick. Not the top possible offer, but certainly in contention with the other two most viable options.

People may not want to hear names like Rondo or Green in that equation, but it’s the reality of making a play for a major player of Gasol’s stature. Its not a LIKELY scenario, but its feasible from a talent perspective.

One has to remember that Memphis has its own pick, top 4 and is looking to rebuild via cheap talent that will draw fan interest. The Celtics pick would give the Memphis team two picks in the top 5 of possibly the deepest draft in NBA history-this has value for a franchise that would be looking at 4 cheap years out of two elite talents. Memphis has Gay/Warrick/M. Miller, so they're looking for a C/PF/PG with SG being a viable option as one of Miller/Gay/Warrick would come off the bench, none are ideal 2-guards.

A Boston deal can give Memphis 3 of those 4 needs while Memphis' own pick fills the 4th need. It covers the cost angle and the excitement angle as well. Phoenix deal is probably the best option for both Pau and Memphis, with the Suns having 3 first round picks to play with as well. But, Phoenix is perhaps the least likely to make this type of move, so they are predicated on participation.

The Lakers are looking for another big time piece, and have the Bynum chip. I'd think they're the market leader for any big based off of the parameters stipulated above.

The good news is, these parameters apply to the market for KG and JO as much as they do for Gasol. Additionally, Chauncey Billups, Jason Kidd, Mike Bibby, Gerald Wallace, Vince Carter, Ray Allen, and Rashard Lewis are lurking in the weeds. There are only so many teams that have the assets to acquire these players...with that being considered, the probability of the Celtics landing a player of some stature is very high.

It should be noted that the team could ultimately decide that retaining the player available with the draft pick IS the best alternative to trading away any of the team’s most valuable core youth. Ainge has enjoyed a sport rarity in having the support of ownership in regards to long-term thinking. The Celtics as currently constructed are not a common occurrence, more so because of the market that’s allowed this process to transpire. Ainge gets knocked around a lot for trying to rebuild while remaining competitive, but that very well may have been the only way to get an impatient fan base to buy into the “youth movement” long enough to actually pull it off.

The purpose of this piece is another attempt to mitigate the “suicide factor” I can just see brewing with the possibility of May 22nd not working out as well as we’d all like. There is life after Oden and Durant, though they are the ideal. The team is going to play the market and make the move that fits their interests best. What those interests are is beyond our knowledge and must account for the less glamorous details of the industry.