Breaking Down the Boston Celtics' Best Trade Bait
Lets face it Boston Celtics fans, the team that we've seen so far in 2012 is not going to win the NBA Finals.
As inconsistently as the team has been playing, it's hard to imagine them hanging around for too long against superior opponents like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and dare I say it... the New York Knicks.
So if the personnel on the floor is not playing up to par, the most drastic move that could immediately have an impact is to make a trade, right? Unfortunately, looking at the current roster yields no obvious moves that GM Danny Ainge could concoct to instantly improve their chances.
The depth chart (for the most part) is filled with age and expensive contracts. None of the important ones—Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass—are set to expire after the 2013 playoffs.
That leaves GM with only a few options this year and some extremely important decisions ahead. Please Mr. Ainge, proceed with caution.
The following list breaks down the Celtics' best trade bait. If things do not drastically improve in Boston soon, one or two of them might be donning a different uniform by season's end.
Trade Bait #5: Brandon Bass
2012 Season Averages: 27.5 minutes, 8.7 points, 5.4 rebounds
Brandon Bass has not given the Celtics what they need in the rebounding department. However, he has proven to be a valuable role player and had a standout postseason in 2012.
His postseason performance was good enough to land him a new contract (3 years, $19.5 million) with Boston that will most likely be a deterrent to potential trade partners.
Bass has a good motor, is a respectable teammate and plays hard every night. He could become part of a package deal to land a threatening big man if things continue to sputter for the Celtics.
Trade Bait #4: Jason Terry
2012 Season Averages: 30.3 minutes, 11.7 points, 2.1 assists
Avery Bradley's return from shoulder surgery in a short while should mean a reduced role for all other shooting guards on the roster. That means Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa and Courtney Lee will all suffer a loss in playing time in the near future.
Terry has been playing well, especially lately, and is attractive to contenders who need an extra boost. The Jet provides instant offense and can light up the crowd when the going gets tough.
His role on Boston has been one of senior leader and bench champion. As valuable as Terry has been, his talent will be useful on another team as well. For that reason, the Celtics could shop his veteran attitude and scoring ability to help land a longer-term option at a thinner position, like center.
Trade Bait #3: Avery Bradley
2011 Season Averages: 21.4 minutes, 7.6 points
GMs of other teams probably are cautious when regarding the idea of acquiring Avery Bradley. Statistically speaking, his numbers do not merit much attention. Further, he injured both shoulders in 2011-12 and has missed all of the 2012-13 season to date as a result.
What Danny Ainge has the luxury of shopping out is Bradley's potential. At a point during the '11-'12 campaign, Bradley was playing well enough on offense and defense to put Ray Allen out of a starting job.
Avery is full of energy and passion, is a defensive agitator, and in time will be a devastating transition three point shooter. Being coupled with Rajon Rondo in the backcourt is a luxury he will be sure to take advantage of upon his return to health.
However, if he returns in stride but the Celtics keep skidding, his name could surface as a primary target for a midseason move. And, if Ainge properly markets Bradley's potential, the shooting guard could land Boston a new, bigger prize.
Trade Bait #2: Draft Picks
The Boston Celtics coaching staff and front office is too smart to trade away future draft picks. All it takes to figure that out is one look at the aging talent that the Cs can only hope to rely on for two more years optimistically.
However, the same stubborn mentality has continued to run rampant through the Celtics organization for the past three years. That is, when everyone says they're too old or not talented enough, Boston becomes even more convinced that it has the weapons to win it all.
If for some crazy reason they still believe that this year could be the year, something as drastic as a first round draft choice could come into play. Boston's record will dictate the probability of this scenario.
Should the record sink and Boston creep toward the bottom of the playoff seeds or even out, immediate actions could be taken at the expense of future flexibility. At that point their draft pick would be a more attractive option for opposing teams anyway.
It would be bold and likely unwise decision; Boston may be better suited to ride out the ups and downs of this year (and next) instead of costing themselves the opportunity to properly reboot following the retirement of the old guard.
Trade Bait #1: Rajon Rondo
2012 Season Averages: 37.9 minutes, 12.9 points, 12.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds
The best player on the team is the team's most attractive trade bait. No question.
It doesn't seem as if anyone in the Boston Celtics organization is trying to dish the young star any longer. There were musings of a deal swirling in 2011-12, but Rajon Rondo has stayed the course and is clearly Boston's best player on the floor every night he takes it.
His biggest weakness is that other teams do not respect his jumper. Admittedly, he seems to have improved this year and is shooting at a high percentage of 51.1 percent from the floor. Yet, his true ability to manipulate the game still comes when passing the ball.
For Rondo to really excel to his full potential for the Celtics, they would need to add a superior scorer, preferably an interior scorer. Here's the catch-22: Nobody on the Celtics' roster is attractive enough on the market to land the type of player that could carry a championship duo with Rondo.
Only time will tell. Rondo is inked to a contract that will last through 2015. If he cannot deliver a championship before then as the team's star and leader, Boston may dish him to pursue a new front man.
On a personal note, I think the only way is up for Rondo and hope the Celtics are sensible enough to keep him around.