From the moment that news broke that Tayshaun Prince would be part of the trade package headed to Boston for Jeff Green, most have assumed that Prince would be bought out and allowed to head to the contender of his choice. Also, from the start it appeared that the LA Clippers would be the most likely landing spot for him.
As Tayshaun Prince prepares to meet with Celtics to discuss future, the Clippers have registered interest in acquiring him, source says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) January 17, 2015
Still, when have you ever known Danny Ainge to part ways with an asset without first seeing if there's anything he could get for that asset?
If Prince doesn't want to stay in Boston, the Celtics would pursue trade avenues before agreeing to buyout, source said.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) January 17, 2015
First of all, "if?" Let's just assume that Prince does not wish to spend the next 3 months of his career playing assistant coach to a bunch of kids and trading war stories with Gerald Wallace.
Next you have to wonder, can Danny really get anything for a guy that was mostly just a matching, expiring salary? Well, it is complicated, but the short answer is "maybe."
You see, Tayshaun can actually still play a bit. Jeff Green is far and away better, so it made perfect sense for Memphis to move him in the deal. But Prince is more than just a matching salary. He's got all the savvy vet playoff experience that you could ever want. He's the kind of guy that a coach can put on the court and trust to make the right plays. That's critical for playoff bound teams with a thin bench.
Teams like, say, the Clippers. Doc could really use an upgrade at small forward. But the thing is, they really don't have the assets available that Danny Ainge would accept.
A buyout, however, is the preferred method of acquiring Prince for the asset-strapped Clippers.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) January 17, 2015
There are other teams interested in Prince if he's bought out. It is a lot easier to bring in a guy like Prince at a pro-rated vet minimum salary than it is to match salaries for him in a trade. So they could simply wait for the Celtics to waive him.
But will anyone (aside from the Clips) value Prince enough to trade for him? That's the question for Danny. Can he find someone who needs a small forward, has an expiring salary (or cap space or a TPE), and is willing to offer some other asset to sweeten the pot? Swapping an expiring for another expiring isn't really worth all that much to Boston, unless it is a smaller expiring salary that could save Wyc and company a few bucks. Oh, and one other complicating factor is the fact that Prince has to be traded by himself. He can't be traded in combination with other players.
So at the end of the day, Danny probably won't find any takers for Prince, but it won't be for lack of effort. If there's any deal to be made Ainge will pursue it. We should know more tomorrow when they finally get to sit down and talk with Prince and his agent.