Realistic Trade Targets Who Would Breathe Life into Geriatric Celtics
The Boston Celtics need help. Like a lot of help. And they need it now.
At present, the Rajon Rondo-led Celtics find themselves two games under .500 and a half-game away from falling out of the Eastern Conference's playoff picture entirely.
Is that what Danny Ainge and company had in mind when they assembled a team that was supposed to be deeper, faster and more talented than the one they had last year?
Boston was supposed to contend for a title this season. On the heels of a playoff performance that saw it push the Miami Heat to the brink and come within one victory of an NBA Finals appearance, this campaign was supposed to be marked by progress.
Instead, it's been a season of regression, one that has seen the Celtics stumble both defensively and offensively.
Nearly halfway into the season, it has become clear the answers to all Boston's questions are not on the roster. Thus, it's time for the Celtics to search outside themselves for players who can help salvage their season.
And while it's intriguing to fathom how Boston would fare with players like DeMarcus Cousins in tow, the Celtics are limited both financially and in terms of tangible assets. Essentially, this forces Boston to search for bargain-priced players who won't cost an arm and a Rondo to acquire.
Do such talents even exist?
Luckily for the Celtics, they do.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of December 31, 2012.
DeJuan Blair, C, San Antonio Spurs
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DeJuan Blair doesn't have an ACL in either of his knees, but the Celtics have plenty of players who do.
What they lack, however, is an additional rebounding and defensive presence, and Blair provides plenty of both.
The undersized center has found himself buried on Gregg Popovich's bench with the San Antonio Spurs, yet he has managed to show a wealth of promise in just 15 minutes per contest.
How much so?
Well, if we extrapolate his production, we come to find that Blair is averaging 12.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Boston is the league's worst rebounding team and could certainly use those extra boards. And per Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD, Blair is available to any team willing to relinquish a first-round pick.
After watching how crafty Blair can be on both ends of the ball, it's clear he would be worth such price.
The fact that he's earning just over $1 million is merely a financial bonus for a cash-strapped team like the Celtics.
Gerald Henderson, SG, Charlotte Bobcats
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Listen, I get that the Celtics have plenty of guards. But I also get that they need another shooter.
Boston is 18th in three-point percentage (34.8) and is 17th in points (95.9) per game as well. Which means the Celtics would welcome the presence of an extra scorer.
Enter Gerald Henderson.
The shooting guard is currently averaging 13.7 points and shooting 46.4 percent from deep. He's no stranger to spending some time at the small forward spot if needed, and he's one of the better rebounding guards in the NBA.
More importantly, according to Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD, the emergence of Jeff Taylor for the Charlotte Bobcats has rendered him available. Even more importantly, he's slated to earn just over $3 million this season.
At only 25, the price for Henderson could be steep. That said, he has had trouble staying healthy, so that could lower his value significantly.
If the Celtics could somehow swing a deal without damaging their core considerably for a scorer like Henderson, their immediate outlook becomes that much brighter.
Antawn Jamison, PF, Los Angeles Lakers
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Is it time for the Celtics to move in? I'd say so.
Jamison doesn't do much defensively, but to be fair, neither has Courtney Lee. He proved to be a source of instant offense in a half-court set like the one the Cleveland Cavaliers ran, and he's owed just over $1 million this year.
I won't pretend that Jamison alone would save the Celtics' season, but he would go a long away. In addition to scoring, he provides some much-needed rebounding, and he's no stranger to playing alongside a ball-dominating point guard.
Yes, Jamison is 36, but he averaged 17.2 points per game next to Kyrie Irving last season. He's unlikely to put up those kinds of numbers when he's not the second offensive option, but he's another mobile scoring option for Rajon Rondo to defer to.
Thus, perhaps it's time Boston gave its West Coast nemesis a phone call.
Derrick Williams, PF, Minnesota Timberwolves
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The Minnesota Timberwolves are not happy with Derrick Williams, but the Celtics would be.
There's no denying that the second overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft has disappointed. His paltry 8.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game tell us that much.
Still, Williams finds himself averaging just 17.3 minutes per game for Rick Adelman, and it's tough to perform consistently in such limited minutes. His per 36 minutes averages of 17 points and 8.9 rebounds per game are actually pretty solid.
Struggles or not, Boston would undoubtedly jump at the opportunity to acquire a big man of Williams' potential, especially one who is readily available. Toss in the fact that playing under both Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett is the perfect remedy for his shortcomings, and you have a picture-perfect fit.
But do the Celtics have enough to acquire the big man?
Williams isn't worth much to Minnesota at this point, but the Timberwolves are unlikely to just hand him over. That said, if Boston can figure out a way for some draft picks to grease hands and maybe get a third team involved, it might have a fighting chance at peaking the interest of Minnesota.
And thus moving in the right direction with a player of Williams' caliber in the fold.
Tyreke Evans, PG, Sacramento Kings
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DeMarcus Cousins is unlikely to be had at a reasonable price, but Tyreke Evans is a different story.
Evans continues to disappoint the Sacramento Kings after a star-studded rookie campaign. His averages of 15.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game are solid, but the Kings had visions of him as an All-Star, not an inconsistent volume scorer.
Such apprehension shouldn't deter Boston from attempting to strike an accord, though. And according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com, it hasn't.
The Celtics remain wary of their ability to put together a competitive package for the free-agent-to-be, but his continued bouts with injury should lower his price considerably. As the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reports, Evans is seeking a second opinion on his currently injured knee. Even if the diagnosis is favorable, Sacramento may welcome the opportunity to rid itself of a injury-prone headache.
At 6'6", Evans is capable of manning three different positions and could serve as a nice scoring punch off the bench behind Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo.
Does his three-point shooting and defense need work? Of course, but he's still only 23 and is liable to flourish under the tutelage of Doc Rivers and veterans Paul Pierce.
Plus, let's face it, the Celtics—in all of their 22nd-ranked offensive glory—need more scoring.
And Evans would certainly provide plenty of that.