On Thursday night, while Derek Jeter was capping off a historic career in New York and Eli Manning was looking more like Peyton, the Boston Celtics made a blockbuster trade, sending Keith Bogans to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Fine, it wasn't quite a blockbuster -- the New York teams stole all headlines on Thursday -- but it was actually a sensational move for Boston. They managed to dump the exiled Bogans for three non-guaranteed contracts, a promising young second round draft pick in Dwight Powell, two second round picks (2016 and 2017), and a $5.3 million trade exception was created.
This is what happens when two creative general managers like David Griffin and Danny Ainge (and the whole Celtics front office for that matter) get together and make a transaction.
After completing the complicated Tyler Zeller deal earlier this year, which ultimately helped Cleveland sign LeBron James (and trade for Kevin Love), both teams helped each other once again here. Cleveland sets themselves up for more impact trades either mid-season or next summer, and Boston gets some extra assets for a player they otherwise would've cut for nothing.
Once the deal was official, Boston waived both Chris Johnson and Chris Babb. Johnson became a fan favorite last season because of his non-stop hustle, but shooting and defensive consistencies hold him back, and Babb is extremely underdeveloped in all areas.
While both players showed promise, it's a numbers game in Boston. Each team can only have up to 20 players on the roster during training camp and they were at 24 after the trade. After cutting Johnson and Babb, they're at 22; so various reports suggested the newly acquired John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas will be released next, but Erik Murphy will get a shot in camp.
With Evan Turner expected to be in Boston on Monday, it's fair to assume that they will both be cut, which would put them right at 20 players.
But the Celtics still do have 16 guaranteed contracts, which means another move will have to be made before the regular season begins, or they'll have release a player and eat the money.
Here is Boston's updated depth chart:
(C & PF)
|Jared Sullinger||Tyler Zeller||Vitor Faverani||Dwight Powell|
|Kelly Olynyk||Brandon Bass||Joel Anthony||*Erik Murphy|
(SF & SG)
|Jeff Green||Marcus Thornton||James Young|
|Evan Turner||Gerald Wallace||*Christian Watford|
(SG & PG)
|Avery Bradley||Marcus Smart||*Rodney McGruder|
|Rajon Rondo||Phil Pressey||*Tim Frazier|
Names in bold are near locks to make the roster, underlined are potential trade nominees, italicized are long shots, and names with an asterisk have non-guaranteed contracts.
There are 12 Celtics under contract who are near locks to make it to the final roster. While their roles have yet to be officially determined, there is almost no doubt they will be Celtics when the season opens on October 29 against the Brooklyn Nets.
It's most likely that the simple thing happens: Boston lets go of the four non-guaranteed contracts, Watford, McGruder, Frazier, and Murphy. Even if one of them shines during training camp and pre-season, the numbers would just make them tough cuts.
Still, Powell has a guaranteed contract worth $500,000 and he is clearly the most talented player of this bunch of players acquired in the deal with Cleveland. Drafted with the No. 45 pick, Powell spent four years at Stanford and showed promise as a do-it-all energy big man.
If, by chance, Powell plays well, Boston will be in a tougher position. Do you cut him and risk losing him for nothing? Or do you attempt to make a trade to open up roster space?
With a crowded and talented frontcourt, a trade is certainly possible. Both Bass and Anthony seem like reasonable trade possibilities because they are on expiring contracts and could easily slide into any team's system. If a team comes calling with a fair offer, maybe Boston pulls the trigger.
Thornton would likely draw less interest in a trade than they would, but the possibility remains since his agent has expressed concerns about a possible opportunity in Boston. Plus, he could actually turn out to be a valuable rotational player.
There are plenty of positional battles that will be determined throughout camp and the start of the season, but Boston's opening night roster will likely come down to which big man makes the final cut. After training camp begins on Tuesday, the Boston Celtics will have plenty of time to figure that out.