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How to Solve the Wing Shortage

With Tony Allen going to Memphis, and other wings that have been rumored to be targets of the C’s, such as JJ Redick, Ronnie Brewer, and Mike Miller coming off the market in the last week, it feels like a little bit of panic has been surging through Celtics Nation. Will the C’s be stuck with nothing?  Will our backup wings be Avery Bradley and Michael Finley?  Will Paul Pierce and Ray Allen be forced to play too many minutes next season, and be run into the ground like when the C’s failed to replace James Posey in 2008-2009?

Well, I am here to hopefully bring at least a little hope.  While a lot of targets have come off the board in the last couple of weeks, there are still plenty out there.  So let’s take a closer look at who the C’s could be looking at…

First, I want to make one assumption.  Let’s assume that the Danny Ainge is correct, and Rasheed Wallace IS going to retire, which allows the C’s to use his contract in a trade.  This of course, would be a very valuable trade piece, because it would allow the Celtics to send it to another team, for a contract within 125% +$100,000 of Sheed’s deal.  And the team trading for Sheed would then be able to take that salary (minus a likely buyout for his troubles) off the books, giving them immediate savings…which is especially valuable for teams who may be close to the luxury tax threshold. Sheed’s cap hit for 2010 is reportedly $6,322,320. 

So, with this, highly valuable asset, here are some targets the C’s might look at picking up, broken into a couple categories.

Possible Sign & Trades

First, are the sign and trades.  These are free agents, who could sign with their original team, and then be immediately traded to the C’s for Sheed’s contract.  These are a little tougher than a straight trade for two reasons.  First, they need to come to a contract agreement with the player, rather than taking on a contract that is already signed.  And second, they need to make it worthwhile for the team trading them.  Depending on the situation of that team, this may just mean sending some cash (they can send up to $3 million) to grease the skids, or it could mean sending something more valuable to them on the court, such as a draft pick, or even a player.  So, the C’s are going to have to weigh the value of these players with how much they are giving up to bring them on board (in no particular order).

1.   Richard JeffersonJefferson gave up a lot of money this season, in order to test the free agent waters, and    possibly get a longer term contract.  Things did not exactly work out for him with the Spurs last year, but could he be a better fit in the Celtics more up tempo system?  He had his best years playing with Jason Kidd, getting out in the open court and being a disruptive defender.  Perhaps playing with Rajon Rondo (who is much more of a true PG than Tony Parker) would rejuvenate the 30 year old, and help him return to his old form.  The toughest part of a deal with him may be agreeing on a price.  The C’s have been reluctant to give out deals going beyond 2012, and he would almost certainly be wanting at least 4 or 5 years, in return for taking a pay cut from the $16 million he gave up this season, however, if the C’s could come to terms with him, a first rounder would probably needed to convince San Antonio to make this happen.

2.   Josh Howard – Howard is another 30 year old wing coming off his worst year since he was a rookie.  He is also recovering from a torn ACL.  Because he had such a tough season last year, has had some questions about his off the court behavior, and may not be ready to go for the beginning of the season, it may be tough for him to agree with the team on a fair price.  However, if they can find some common ground (likely somewhere near $5-6 million per year, perhaps on a short-term deal, that allows him to be a free agent again, once he gets healthy), he could be an interesting match for the C’s.  The Wizards would also probably need some convincing to help this deal go through, and that could be a sticking point.  If Danny does not want to give up a first rounder for a player with so many question-marks, Washington could play hardball, and just try to sign Howard themselves.

3.   Rasual Butler, Roger Mason Jr. and Matt Barnes – These are three players that could be intriguing if the "big guns" don’t pan out.  The tough thing about these guys is that they are likely looking at significantly less money than Rasheed’s contract can take back.  So, they might have to be combined with other contracts to make something happen (Butler could be traded for Sheed straight up, since the Clippers are under the cap, and could absorb the difference in salary).  But, this could be a positive for the C’s.  Perhaps the C’s could also fill a second hole by taking on one of these guys, as well as a veteran big man such as Matt Bonner or Craig Smith.  One or two of these guys also could be squeezed a bit by the market and may end up having to settle for the veteran minimum, making a trade like this unnecessary.   

Possible Trade Targets

The next group are wings who are under contract that the C’s could target through a straight up trade.  These might be a little easier to pull off, since the C’s could potentially find someone who fits in with their 2-year window, without having to haggle over a new contract.  Teams also might be more motivated to trade these guys, since it would actually take money off their salary cap.

1.   Shane Battier – OK, I need to throw this one out there, just because I would love to see him on the C’s.  It is very unlikely that he would be available, however, the Rockets have been rumored to be interested in making a "splashy" trade, and there is a scenario where a team trading the Rockets a star player would prefer the savings of Sheed’s contract, as well as a first round pick from the C’s.  It’s a long shot, with a lot of moving pieces, but I am trying to be an optimist here.

2.   Marvin Williams – There have been rumblings that the Hawks are regretting signing Williams, and are now looking to save some cash, now that Joe Johnson’s contract has broken the bank.  His deal doesn’t fit into Danny’s 2-year plan, however, he is still very young, and could develop into a building-block to help Rondo bridge the team to the future.

3.   JR Smith – Another longshot, however, Smith has given the Nuggets brass plenty of headaches over the last few years, and with the emergence of Aaron Afflalo, and Denver’s current financial woes, perhaps they would consider sending the talented young headcase to Boston for some savings and draft considerations.

4.   Francisco Garcia – Garcia might just be a guy with a big contract, and no role in Sacramento.  With Omri Casspi and Donte Greene waiting in the wings, perhaps the Kings would prefer to move on, and let Garcia become Boston’s sixth man.

5.   Andres Nocioni – He has been rumored with the C’s in the past, and his contract just gets more and more palatable each year.  People seem to be split on whether he is a good fit or not, but his contract is a good match, and he would certainly give the C’s some shooting and grittiness off the bench.  Given the glut of wings (particularly SF’s) the Sixers have, I am sure they wouldn’t miss him…in fact, they may even throw in a future pick to get him off the books.

6.   Jason Kapono – He just has one more year left on his deal, and while is not as flashy as some of the others on this list brings an undeniable NBA skill.  He is one of the best shooters in the game, and would really help this team maintain some consistency when Ray Allen is on the bench. 

7.   James Posey – Not my favorite choice, and Danny would have to face some interesting questions if he did bring him back…but certainly worth a look if they can’t do better.

8.   Kirk Hinrich – Another name who has been connected with the C’s in the past.  He is an excellent defender, has only two years left on his contract, and can play the PG or SG spot very effectively.  Might be a great combination with Nate off the bench.  Washington might have him in their plans as a mentor to John Wall, but would they really turn down that kind of savings?

Possible Vet Minimum Targets

Finally, if the C’s are not able to find the right deal with Sheed’s contract (or he decides not to retire), their final option will probably be combing the free agent market for veteran minimum players.  A lot of money has been thrown around in the last couple of weeks, but it seems to be running out a bit lately, and there are still a lot of quality players on the market.  This means there could be a lot of players who will be forced to consider taking the veteran minimum, and many of them may look at Boston as an excellent option.  They could play here for a year, get some exposure playing for a contender, then get a bigger deal next summer.

They also could conceivably sign some veteran free agents to hold down the fort until midseason, and then try to bring in reinforcements with Sheed’s contract at the trade deadline, since it is likely his contract will be even more valuable at that time, once teams fall out of contention, and want to cut salary, and get below the luxury tax threshold.

Here is a short list of players who could get squeezed out of larger contracts, and may come looking for the vet minimum from a team like Boston:

1.   Jerry Stackhouse – He had a bit of a rebirth last year on the Bucks, and would be an excellent option off the C’s bench.

2.   Bobby Simmons – A long, athletic player who defends and can shoot a bit.  He kind of disappeared after getting overpaid on his last contract, but could become a very good roleplayer on a contender.

3.   Adam Morrison – OK, I just want to see him grow his hair out, and become the new Gino.

4.   Flip Murray – Can’t cover SF’s, but he would be more instant offense.

5.   Trenton Hassell – A heck of a defender, who has had some success playing with KG

6.   Stephen and Joey Graham – I have no idea which is which, but they both would add some much needed strength and athleticism off the bench.

7.   Tracy McGrady – I’d pass, unless he comes with the fountain of youth.

8.   Keith Bogans – Always an afterthought, but always productive.

9.   James Jones – Excellent shooter, good defender, and a guy who was called the heart of the overachieving Blazers a couple years back.
10.   Rodney Carney – A young guy, with a lot of tools, who never seems to be able to catch on.  Maybe he’s ready to break out?

So, these lists might not include everyone the C’s are looking at, and perhaps you have more ideas, but at the very least, I hope this helps to move you a little further from the ledge.  It is still very early, training camp does not open for another two and a half months, and as you can see, there are still plenty of options out there for the C’s to reload with.

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