December 15 marks the unofficial start of NBA trade season. Why that date? Mostly because it signals the moment when most free agents that signed in the offseason are eligible to be traded. Granted, most guys that were signed in the offseason are still in their team's long term plans. But simply having more contracts that are eligible to be traded gives GMs more flexibility to make deals happen.
Also, by this time teams have seen their clubs play for a quarter of the season and they kind of know what they have (injuries may hinder this process). They know where they are weak and where they have surplus. There's 2 months still till the trade deadline (Feb. 19 at 3:00 PM EST) so there really isn't any mad rush to get deals done. But if a team is eager to make a move earlier than later, then you might see a deal or two in the coming weeks. For example, we've already seen the Nets dump Andrei Kirilenko off on the Sixers for luxury tax reasons.
So, what about the Celtics?
I've grown very fond of most of the players on the Celtics, but I'm not very fond of losing. Maybe the thing this team needs is a little bit of a shake up. It is clear that this team could use an influx of talent to take the team in the right direction. In a weak Eastern Conference, the right move or two could put us in the playoffs and maybe even a 6 or 7 seed.
With that said, a first round exit is not the goal. The goal is and has always been Championships. So Danny Ainge isn't going to give away his valuable trade assets for marginal upgrades. In fact, if the right deal comes along that makes us even worse in the short term but positions us to make a big splash this summer, I'm sure Danny woudn't hesitate to pull the trigger.
Long story short: The Celtics have lots of options. They can be buyers or sellers or a little bit of both.
It takes two to tango
The Celtics were in a similar position in the offseason and yet there were no fireworks. Just some additional stockpiling of gunpowder and wicks. To make some big bangs happen, they'll need a willing team to lend them a hand. So let's look at some of the buyers and sellers out on the market that might want to give Danny boy a ring sometime soon.
Sellers: Teams that might be willing to hand over good players in exchange for picks and assets.
Hornets - We've already heard some buzz about Charlotte already shopping Lance Stephenson - one of those free agents that wasn't eligible to be traded till today. He's a little tapped in the head but he's extremely talented and is on a team friendly contract. Might be a buy-low candidate that Ainge is so fond of.
Pacers - Roy Hibbert is having a bounce back year of sorts and he would certainly answer our need for a rim protector. Not sure if the Pacers are willing to sell short on him though. They could be poised to bounce back quickly with Paul George coming back next year. But it never hurts to make a call and see.
Pistons - Everyone knows that Greg Monroe is a short timer in Detroit. That fact alone might make the asking price for him pretty low. On the other hand, he's not exactly a rim protector and the Celtics might be better served waiting till the offseason to make their bid when it won't cost any current talent or picks.
Knicks - Is Carmelo Anthony ready to bolt New York already? Or was that just the NY media doing what they do? Probably the latter, but it does open up a fun debate (that we've covered here a few times in the past). If you could trade for Melo, would you? It would certainly be fireworks.
Nets - Rumor has it that Brooklyn is ready to put everyone on the block. To me, none of their guys make any sense on the Celtics, but that doesn't mean that Danny can't find his way into a deal to help facilitate something (in exchange for even more picks and/or players of worth).
Buyers: Teams that might be interested in some of our veteran players in exchange for young talent and/or picks.
Pelicans - New Orleans is knocking on the playoffs door in the stacked Western Conference and they could use some help to get over the hump. According to reports they've been active on the phones looking for talent. They could probably use some help on the wings, so they'd probably be interested in Jeff Green. Or if they are looking in the bargain bin, they might make a play for Evan Turner.
Kings - Also on the outside looking in out West (and they just fired their head coach), the Kings desperately need some veteran talent. Perhaps they'd be interested in Brandon Bass?
Blazers - We've already heard one rumor saying that Portland might be interested in bringing Gerald Wallace back for a third time. Yes please. Name your price.
Rockets - Houston would like to use their trade exception by Dec. 19 according to a Wojo report. They can take on Brandon Bass without having to give up anyone on their roster if that was what they were looking for. Could be a match depending on what they are willing to send back. Then again, we've seen false deadlines from Morey in the past.
Thunder - Call me crazy, but I wouldn't put it past Danny Ainge to bring Kendrick Perkins back home to Boston. He's being phased out in OKC and Presti will probably be willing to dangle his expiring contract on the market for some kind of upgrade. Would he give up a pick to swap Perkins for Thornton to add some shooting?
Pick a contender - Most of the top teams still have a weakness that they'd like to upgrade for a shot at the title. Any number of teams might be interested in Green, Bass, Thornton, or even Turner or Gerald Wallace.
Feels like I'm forgetting about someone...
Oh yeah, I guess I have to address the Rajon Rondo situation. We've been over this too many times to waste any more paragraphs on it so I'll simply quote myself and point you to this other article I wrote recently.
While I understand the case for trading Rajon Rondo, I'm more optimistic about his future with the team. I do think he's a max player and I do think he'll re-sign with the Celtics because they have the most money to offer and a chance to build a title contending team in the near future.
So, what do you think? Will the Celtics be buyers or sellers in the coming months? Do you think they'll find a deal early or wait till the deadline or sit this one out entirely? Got any good trade ideas you'd like to share with the class?
Enjoy trade season folks. And as always, check here first for the latest news and rumors.