The Boston Celtics wanted Millsap before, can they use KG to get him now?
The Boston Celtics have put off a rebuild as well as any team in sports over the past few years. Now, with Kevin Garnett teetering on the edge of retirement or one more year, is there any way they can flip him for some younger assets?
As any Celtics fan will admit, Garnett has given the team six gloriously competitive years. Technically, he did just submit another All-Star season, with averages of 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds.
However, he has played in only 83 percent of a possible 476 regular-season games, and he turned 37 last month. The only active player with more games or minutes played at this point is Jason Kidd. Garnett stands at No. 12 in games and No. 7 in minutes.
Garnett is set to make $12.4 million next season and $12 million the year after, only $6 million of which is guaranteed. Of course, he also holds a pesky no-trade clause, which caused the Celtics trouble when trying to make moves at the 2013 trade deadline.
The chances of him waiving that are still slim at this point, but one must figure they are predicated on whether long-time buddy Paul Pierce is still in a green jersey come the fall. If the Celtics exercise a $5 million buyout of Pierce, Garnett is more likely to accept a move.
Assuming all this happens and he allows the Celtics to make a trade, what market is out there this summer?
Paul Millsap is a player the Boston Celtics have had their eye on for a while.
The Jazz were still trying to make the playoffs at that point. As we know now, that attempt fell short and they wound up watching the first round from their couches. Now they are out a multitude of players hitting the free-agent market, one of which is Millsap.
Obviously, with him entering free agency, a deal will be tougher to make as it would require Utah to sign-and-trade him. Millsap made $8.6 million last season and is due to see a considerable bump in pay with his next deal. Something in the range of four years, $50 million seems fair. That averages out to $12.5 million per year, roughly what Kevin Garnett is scheduled to make.
Whether the Jazz would be bringing in Garnett to help along their budding young bigs Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, or simply allowing him to retire would be a major decision.
Were they expecting him to simply retire, the Celtics would need to add assets to the deal. Their No. 16 pick in the first round is a good one, but probably not enough on its own to make the deal attractive for Utah. This trade may have to include a future first-rounder as well.
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers were possibly the busiest rumor-mill teams this past season in terms of getting a trade done.
There have been serious offers, as well as laughable coach-trades. Now, with both teams turning in disappointing postseasons, everything must come into consideration.
Until the Clippers find their next head coach, a deal will be tough to get done. However, a deal that was on the table before and should remain is based on Kevin Garnett for DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.
Garnett refused to waive his no-trade clause for a similar deal during the season. However, operating in the no-Paul Pierce hypothetical, Los Angeles seems like a decent place to go. Garnett could play out one more year on a team much closer to a championship level, while helping a culture that could use some real leadership.
The Celtics would get two guys under 25 who are superior athletes. They would seemingly fit right into the new direction of a fast transition team led by Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. There could be some overlap with Bledsoe and Avery Bradley, but if Boston were able to clean house behind them (Jason Terry and Courtney Lee), it could work.
Jordan will make roughly $22 million the next two seasons, while Bledsoe is on the hook for just $2.6 million next year and a $3.7 million qualifying offer after that. That puts them close to Garnett's $12.4 million in 2013-14, making the deal doable from a financial standpoint.
A possibility that doesn't have much traction at the moment is Kevin Garnett going back to where it all began with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Garnett's departure to the Boston Celtics wasn't a heated dismissal or a quick decision to bail. He clearly had a lot of love for that area and franchise, but was given little choice in a quest for a championship.
One has to assume the fans of Minnesota would accept Garnett back to retire in the place that took a chance on him all those years ago. How they would do it may not be so thrilling.
Nikola Pekovic has become somewhat of a fan favorite with the Timberwolves. He has worked hard to improve since being drafted in the second round in 2008 and staying in Europe until 2010.
The team also holds his rights with a $6 million qualifying offer. Pekovic can go out and sign with any team he wants, but the Timberwolves have the right to match.
This makes a sign-and-trade possibility with the Celtics intriguing. Pekovic averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this past season, breaking out at the right time for a new contract. In this trade, the Celtics would be able to pay him somewhere in the vicinity of what Garnett makes ($10 million-12 million per year).
Minnesota gets Garnett home for a one-year trip or a simple retirement. In one year, he could help oversee this team finding a way into the playoffs. They were a dark horse team in 2012-13, but injuries kept them out of contention. A healthy Kevin Love and Garnett in the frontcourt would be trouble in the Western Conference.
A far-fetched possibility for the Boston Celtics is an Al Horford trade.
This would hinge on the Atlanta Hawks looking to totally clean house and space for one of the major free agents of the next two summers. They will be looking hard at Dwight Howard in the coming weeks and LeBron James/Carmelo Anthony a year later.
The Hawks have a bunch of cap room this summer already, with Josh Smith and Devin Harris coming off the books. However, they may look to clear more money with Horford.
The Hawks' big man has an evenly distributed deal worth $12 million each of the next three seasons, similar to what Kevin Garnett could make over the next two years. This would be a trade, however, in which Garnett retires, saving the Hawks a lot of money for free agency.
The Celtics would get a legitimate star big who is still young. While Horford hasn't been able to get Atlanta over the hump, he averaged 17.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season and isn't a defensive slouch, either. He is the type of player the Celtics have been seeking since this half-rebuild idea came into play.
Since Horford is right now a higher caliber than Garnett, the Celtics would have to sweeten the deal with their No. 16 pick, giving the Hawks three first-rounders. Even that may not be enough.
Another possibility is including a young asset like Avery Bradley (with or without the No. 16 pick) in the deal, not something Celtics fans would want to hear. However, he would give the Hawks a solid defensive guard to play with Jeff Teague, making the deal much sweeter from their end.
Do you recall who it was that pulled the trigger to send Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics?
Kevin McHale, longtime friend to Danny Ainge, made that deal possible from his position with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ainge has many friends in front offices around the league from his playing days.
Phoenix Suns new GM Ryan McDonough is another name Ainge can add to his Rolodex. McDonough was Ainge's disciple in Boston, working with the team for the past 10 years. Now in a high-profile position with the Suns, he'll be trying to right a ship that has been lost at sea.
McDonough and Ainge's relationship will no doubt prove beneficial to both sides, and one possibility is with a Marcin Gortat-Garnett trade. It is still unclear what McDonough's plans are for Phoenix, but if he is looking to create more space to hit free agency, why not turn to a friend?
Gortat holds a $7.7 million expiring contract next season. He has put up three straight solid seasons for the floundering Suns, averaging 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game last year. Unfortunately, he hasn't seen the playoffs since a minor role with the Orlando Magic in 2010.
If the Suns moved Gortat and maybe a poisonous Michael Beasley tax (two years, $12.2 million) for a retiring Garnett, they could wipe some salary and give McDonough a clean slate to work with.
The Celtics get a talented all-around big with considerably less miles on him. Gortat is a skilled rebounder, something the Celtics have craved for years. Beasley is at a breaking point, but a coach like Doc Rivers is his best chance of staying in the NBA.
To make the deal more agreeable for Phoenix fans, Ainge could use the No. 16 pick as enticement for their rebuilding period. That would give the Suns three picks in the first round (No. 5, 16 and 30).