COMMENTARY | Over the summer when the Boston Celtics dealt Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets for a hodgepodge of mediocre players, the key ingredient for Boston was the three future first-round drafts picks they received as well.
Now that the season is a few weeks underway and NBA teams are beginning to get a feel for who they are and what they need, the trade buzz is starting to heat up. The Celtics are sure to be an active participant all season long, and any moves they make are likely to have very little to do with the skill sets of the actual players coming to town.
Recently, there were rumors of a potential deal involving Boston and the New York Knicks, with the Knicks looking to move Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert. If the Celtics were so inclined, they could match salaries by offering New York Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, and Courtney Lee. Now, I don't for a second believe this deal might really happen, I'm just using it to illustrate my point.
Stoudemire has a monster contract that pays him roughly $21.7 million this year, and $23.4 million in 2014-2015. While most teams would want no part of that, Boston could actually use it to gain financial flexibility.
The Celtics have no delusions of being a contender next season, and looking ahead two years down the road it would give them an enormous amount of cap space to play with in the 2015 offseason. Conversely, Wallace and Lee will still be under contract through 2015-2016, with the Celtics due to pay them a combined $15.8 million that year. This trade would enable Boston to free up a large chunk of salary cap room one season earlier; so from a forward-thinking standpoint, it makes perfect sense.
As I see it, there are only five players currently on the Celtics that are considered possible building blocks for the future: Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, and Kelly Olynyk. I'm not saying any of them are untouchable but if those guys are to be dealt, Boston would have to seek players or draft picks of legitimate value in return. However, as far as the rest of the roster goes, it doesn't matter to me in the slightest what the C's get, as long as it sets them up advantageously in the long run.
Brandon Bass is due to make just under $7 million next year. He's a very capable power forward who comes at a reasonable price. If another team is interested in his services, the Celtics should take whomever they are offered as long as they can avoid contracts that extend beyond this season, even if all they get in return is a player or two off the end of someone's bench.
Courtney Lee is a similar situation at shooting guard, although not as much value for the price at slightly more than $5 million. But if the Celtics can work a deal for someone who's contract is up a year or two earlier, it's a beneficial move regardless of who it is.
With the exception of Rondo, Green, Bradley, Sullinger, and Olynyk, the Celtics are a bunch of average to below-average players without long-term potential. Any of them can be replaced when the time comes, so Boston's best strategy for the moment is to try open up as many options as possible down the road.
Mark Vandeusen has been a Boston Celtics season ticket holder since 2007, and writes daily articles for CelticsLife.com, one of the largest NBA fan sites on the web. He is also the owner and creator of LucidSportsFan.com.
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