Potential Trade Targets and Packages for Boston Celtics to Usher in Next Era

Mike Walsh@WalshWritesCorrespondent IJuly 4, 2013

Potential Trade Targets and Packages for Boston Celtics to Usher in Next Era

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    In a little less than one week, Danny Ainge has created quite a stir surrounding the Boston Celtics.

    With one major trade already on the books this summer, Ainge still has plenty of work to do before Boston takes the floor this fall. Following that blockbuster deal with the Brooklyn Nets, Ainge's crew consists of 15 players, including 12 on guaranteed deals. That doesn't even include their two 2013 draft picks, Kelly Olynyk and Colton Iverson.

    At the moment, that is simply too many players. The Celtics will be looking to massage this roster down a bit, while picking up some cap space and possibly assets in the process.

    Those 15 current players will rake in around $71.2 million next season, putting the Celtics right around the still-undefined luxury tax number. Olynyk's guaranteed deal will most definitely push them over.

    While the Celtics owners are willing and able to pay the tax when necessary, they would much prefer to do so while putting a winning team on the floor. Paying Kris Humphries and Keith Bogans $17 million combined is not helping that cause, but still pushing the Celtics to that threshold.

    Therefore, Ainge will spend much of the next couple months looking for ways to lighten the roster while adding either draft picks, young talent or financial relief.

    No players involved in the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics trade can be dealt as a package within two months of initial trade.

The Josh Smith Hope

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    Josh Smith with the Boston Celtics has long been a curiosity for both parties. 

    There is the friendship with current Celtics star Rajon Rondo, which would definitely play some role in Smith heading north to Boston. However, there are major difficulties to work around in order for this deal to even be possible.

    Smith is set to earn a fairly large contract this summer. While it might not be a max deal, the top power forward on the market is sure to attract big money from a few teams.

    The Celtics can't be one of those teams on the open market.

    Before signing first-round pick Kelly Olynyk, Boston is already owing $68.3 million in guaranteed money next season. The cash simply isn't there to extend Smith an offer outright. However, the intrigue of a sign-and-trade is always there and infinitely more possible.

    Before the explosive trade on draft night, sending Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, Boston had a sign-and-trade plan worked out to get Smith.

    Unfortunately, after the deal, their trade exception will stand only around $7.3 million. In order for this to happen, Smith would be taking less money than he could get elsewhere.

    The Celtics now have stockpiled a share of future assets, and a big expiring deal in Humphries, that could attract the Hawks.

    If Atlanta is unable to entice Dwight Howard, Humphries' $12 million deal would be helpful to clear space for next summer's free agency. The Celtics would also have to send at least one first-rounder in addition to that trade exception in order for the deal to work out.

Trading Rondo

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    After the Boston Celtics dealt away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, all eyes turned to Rajon Rondo. 

    There is a sizable contingent of Boston fans who believe that in order to fully rebuild, Rondo must follow his veteran teammates out the door in exchange for even more draft picks. 

    This is not a new thing for the Celtics point guard. He has found himself on the trading block virtually every offseason and trade deadline. While Danny Ainge has stated Rondo is in Boston for good, he is fielding calls concerning all players.

    Those calls are coming in frequently regarding Rondo's services. The Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks have been among the loudest pursuers thus far. It will be tough for either team to convince Ainge to make a deal at this point, though.

    A move for Rondo is tough because Ainge would definitely want a young asset or a guaranteed early first-round pick. The problem is, whatever team lands Rondo probably won't be picking in the early first round for a while.

    While trading Rondo would bring in a substantial haul this summer, it doesn't have to be done. The Celtics aren't contending for a top-three pick next season with their current roster, and Rondo remains the lone attraction for free agents.

    Rondo deserves this coming season to prove he can establish himself as a leader. If he is willing to take on that challenge, the Celtics should be willing to give it to him.

Robin Lopez on the Block

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    The New Orleans Pelicans are looking to make some splashes this summer, as evidenced by their big draft-day trade for Jrue Holiday.

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, the team is also looking to sign guard Tyreke Evans away from the Sacramento Kings for some big money. In order for them to do so, Robin Lopez may become available.

    Lopez represents the opposite of what the Boston Celtics have in Kris Humphries. While Humphries underperforms on a big salary, Lopez was actually a bargain last season.

    As a part of last summer's sign-and-trade between New Orleans and the Phoenix Suns, Lopez inked a three-year, $15.4 million deal.

    Then, he had a breakout season with New Orleans. Lopez started all 82 games, averaging 11.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. He shot 53.4 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from the free-throw line.

    Lopez is a true NBA center, standing at 7'0" and weighing 255 pounds. That is a position of need for Boston—even after selecting Kelly Olynyk at No. 13 in June's draft. 

    While the Celtics are still in a tough place financially, they could easily swap out a similar contract and a pick for Lopez.

    If his deal is guaranteed for the next two seasons, Lopez will be making similar money to Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and Keith Bogans, who should all be on the block for Boston.

    Any of Ainge's recently acquired picks could be helpful incentive as well. If the Celtics can bring in a legitimate NBA center in a small trade, the rebuilding process would be accelerated.

    Also, imagine the hair duo at center next season.

Danny Granger on the Block

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    With a still slim trading block around the NBA, Danny Ainge may have to do some serious convincing in order to continue dealing.

    One team that would take little convincing is the Indiana Pacers, who are looking to deal Danny Granger.

    After re-signing David West to a sizable contract and bringing in C.J. Watson in free agency, the Pacers are looking at a healthy payroll moving forward.

    With Paul George and Lance Stephenson looking to see substantial bumps in the near future, keeping Granger around at $14 million next season seems less likely.

    The former All-Star wing will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, so now is a good time for Indiana to assure themselves some compensation for him.

    Granger played in only five games last season, suffering through a multitude of injuries. He is, however, a career 18.1 points per game scorer, and has averaged a 38.4 percent three-point shooting clip over eight seasons.

    That $14 million is a lot for the Boston Celtics to take on this summer, even with their $7.3 million trade exception. Since Ainge is looking to both get younger (Granger is 30) and shed salaries, this trade is unlikely, but still intriguing.

    The Celtics could easily match Brandon Bass with that exception and a pick to entice Indiana. This gives the Celtics a legitimate perimeter scorer to pair with Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. While Green and Granger seem redundant, both have spent time at power forward during their careers.

    Boston also maintains serious flexibility for next summer, with both the Granger and Humphries deals expiring.

    Indiana would clear space moving forward to help with re-signing their important young talent. They also fill in depth with Bass possibly taking the spot of restricted free agent Tyler Hansbrough. 

Backup Point Guard Role: Darren Collison

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    The Boston Celtics did not address the backup point guard position in the NBA draft, instead taking two 7-footers.

    This has left the void behind Rajon Rondo vacant yet again.

    While they are looking into cheap options such as undrafted free agents, Phil Pressey, Lamont Jones and Jayson Granger, the trade route for a veteran is a possibility.


    Darren Collison

    Though Darren Collison recently became an unrestricted free agent, the Dallas Mavericks do retain his Bird Rights and could perform a sign-and-trade to get something in return for him. 

    The Mavericks and Celtics have been in constant contact this summer, swapping picks for Kelly Olynyk on draft night and of course the calls about Rajon Rondo. So the relationship is solid, and this type of deal could be entertained.

    Collison still wants to start, but will have a hard time finding a team willing to give him that role. In Boston, he would have the opportunity for serious minutes before scaling back when Rondo returned.

    While a first-round pick seems high for Collison, the Mavericks have very few players on their roster right now. If the Dwight Howard chase falls through, Boston could be willing to send them Courtney Lee or MarShon Brooks, depending on Dallas' opinion and the size of Collison's next contract.

    Assets for this type of deal are plentiful on the Celtics roster—Dallas would have their pick of the litter.

Backup Point Guard Role: Others

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    While a bigger name like Darren Collison would be nice, Danny Ainge is looking for cheap options behind Rajon Rondo.


    Shelvin Mack, Atlanta Hawks

    This possibility became a lot more interesting recently. 

    For one, the Atlanta Hawks just drafted point guards Dennis Schroeder in the first round and Raulzinho Neto in the second. Schroeder will have every opportunity to become Jeff Teague's backup right away.

    That leaves Shelvin Mack way down on the depth chart. The Boston Celtics just hired Mack's college coach in Brad Stevens, the second interesting development here.

    It wouldn't take much to get Mack from Atlanta, as he only makes a non-guaranteed $2 million over the next two seasons. 

    Mack played for the Celtics D-League affiliate for part of last season, but saw time in 31 NBA games for three teams. He averaged 4.6 points and 2.2 assists per game.


    Kendall Marshall, Phoenix Suns

    The Phoenix Suns just completed a trade that will bring them point guard Eric Bledsoe from the Los Angeles Clippers

    The deal sent away Jared Dudley and a second-round pick, but kept Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall. That leaves the Suns with three point guards, two of which are starting caliber.

    Marshall becomes somewhat expendable in this scenario.

    He was drafted No. 13 overall last season, but played in just 48 games with the Suns. The potential is still there, but Marshall needs to develop. With two good point guards in front of him, that opportunity may not be there in Phoenix. 

    It is there in Boston, where the Celtics can offer any variety of deals to bring in the former North Carolina star. Because he was a lottery pick, Marshall is owed $2 million guaranteed next season, but the Celtics could easily match that salary in return for a position player of need in Phoenix.