In a dramatic move that would resuscitate their fading championship hopes, the Boston Celtics are discussing a deal with the Washington Wizards for forwards Antawn Jamison(notes) and Caron Butler(notes), league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Friday.
The proposed deal would send the expiring contracts of Ray Allen(notes), Brian Scalabrine(notes) and J.R. Giddens(notes) to the Wizards, a move that would signal the start of Washington's rebuilding process.
The trade isn't imminent, but talks have progressed and Celtics GM Danny Ainge has positioned his organization to make one of the boldest trade deadline moves in years. For the Celtics, ownership would have to agree to take on an additional $24 million in salary next season between Jamison and Butler. Jamison makes more than $15 million in 2011-12, but most owners are discounting those salaries because of an assumption that there will be a labor lockout and some, if not all, of that money will never be paid to the players.
Sources expected the two teams to talk further Friday and throughout the weekend in Dallas.
Both Boston and Washington still have discussions with several teams in the works, including a potential Wizards-Mavericks deal that league sources insisted was discussed well into Thursday night in Dallas.
Washington has offered Butler and DeShawn Stevenson(notes) for the Mavericks' Josh Howard(notes) and a small expiring contract. There were strong signals on late Thursday that deal was getting close, but one source with knowledge of the talks said that Mavs owner Mark Cuban wasn't prepared to commit to the move and wanted to keep shopping.
For now, that hesitancy leaves open the possibility of Boston's aging core regaining its footing as a championship contender. Sources insist that Boston's ownership is in an aggressive mode and determined to back Ainge in his desire to get younger and more athletic without sacrificing the short term for the long term. Boston desperately needs quickness on its frontline, and Jamison, a 6-foot-9 forward, and Butler, a 6-7 swingman, are players with All-Star pedigrees. With the unstable knee of Kevin Garnett(notes) and shoddy play of Rasheed Wallace(notes), this move could potentially give the Celtics the ability to fortify its frontcourt with two of the most desired players on the trade market.
Boston has swooned to fourth in the Eastern Conference, stumbling into the All-Star break with turmoil surrounding the team. The Celtics are 32-18, and just four games ahead of the surging Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division.
The possibility of Boston prying Jamison out of Washington has to be unsettling to the Cleveland Cavaliers. GM Danny Ferry has coveted Jamison for two years, and has made him his No. 1 priority at the trade deadline. The Cavaliers have several contingency plans for losing out on Jamison – topped with Indiana’s Troy Murphy(notes) – but losing Jamison to conference rival Boston would be particularly piercing for the Cavs.
Washington is still part of a lingering, but stalled three-team discussion with New York and Houston that would send Tracy McGrady(notes) to the Knicks, Al Harrington(notes) and Larry Hughes(notes) to the Wizards and Caron Butler and possibly Mike Miller(notes) to the Houston Rockets.