But with the Celtics just 13-12 and head coach Doc Rivers starting Jason Collins, the pressure is mounting to find a big man quick or risk falling too far behind in the Eastern Conference.
It’s unknown which players are available, but ESPN's Chad Ford believes Ainge might be interested in Tyreke Evans:
One team to watch is the Celtics—Danny Ainge loved him before the draft. I'm not sure Boston has the assets to get a deal done, but I could see the Celtics trying to make something happen. (via celticsblog.com)
Evans might be appealing, but he doesn’t address the lack of size. The better target would be Jason Thompson.
At 6'11", 250, Thompson has the size to play either center or power forward. And though his 11.2 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game (as of 12/20/12) don’t impress, Thompson showed in the past he can be more productive.
With the Celtics, Thompson could reach his full potential.
Take a look at Thompson's during the last 24 games of 2011-12. Thompson was in a contract year with a raise at stake. Over that span he scored in double digits 14 times, scoring at least 15 points in eight of those games.
And every game Thompson pulled down 10-plus rebounds, he finished the night with a double-double. Thompson averaged a block per game and shot 58 percent.
The former 12th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft should be good for a double-double nightly with his size and athleticism. With Celtics coach Doc Rivers pushing the right buttons, and with the intense Kevin Garnett taking him under his wing, Thompson should blossom as a player.
If money was Thompson’s motivation last season, one would hope playing meaningful games for the first time with a team that has a shot at the playoffs would be this year's inspiration.
And a motivated Thompson would greatly benefit from Rajon Rondo setting the table for easy buckets. A Rondo-to-Thompson combination could go for a while. Thompson re-signed with the Kings for five years, $34 million. It’s a contract that’s easy on a team’s budget.
More importantly, Rondo would have another teammate to grow with. Already Jeff Green is signed for four years. Rondo’s contract expires after the 2014-15 season. If Ainge is able to bring Thompson into the fold, Boston would have three 26-year-olds signed for at least two more seasons.
Having two talented young players with Rondo would help in the transition to the next generation once Garnett and Paul Pierce retire. Factoring in Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, and the Celtics might avoid having to rebuild.
For Sacramento, moving Thompson creates more playing time for rookie Thomas Robinson. It wouldn’t be hard to increase Robinson’s 16.2 minutes per game with 30.5 MPG available.
And the Kings could discard undesirable players and/or contracts in a trade centered around Thompson. Besides Evans, Sacramento could discard the rarely used Jimmer Fredette and Travis Outlaw. The Kings might be able to shed John Salmons’ remaining $22.6 million over three years. Sacramento could get a lot of relief out of the right deal.
Options are opening up now that Dec. 15 has passed. Boston can now offer Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and/or Jason Collins in a trade if the Celtics wanted. After Jan. 15, Boston’s trade chips will also include Green, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.
And competition from other teams in search of big men puts pressure on the Celtics to make a deal sooner rather than later.
An interesting development was the fact that Lee was briefly back in the starting lineup for a recent three-game road trip through Houston, San Antonio, and Chicago. Maybe Rivers was trying to get Jason Terry reacclimated to his sixth-man role for when Bradley returns. But maybe the Celtics were displaying Lee in hopes of raising his trade value, as ESPN has reported on rumors of Boston dangling Lee (via celticsblog.com)
The trade market is less than a month away from breaking wide open. The beleaguered Celtics are struggling. If Thompson is available, Ainge should make him Boston’s first priority for the present and the future of the franchise.
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