6 Potential Trades for Boston Celtics to Ramp Up Rebuilding Process
Now that Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers are all officially no longer Boston Celtics, it is impossible to look at the team's current roster without acknowledging that they are in a rebuilding mode.
Boston's squad has just enough young talent and established veterans that it will likely be competing for an eighth seed, the worst place for an organization to be in. Being caught in the middle prevents them from making significant improvements through the draft and makes it difficult to attract marquee free agents.
The Celtics have pieces in Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Orlando Summer League stud Kelly Oylynk, all of whom should be in Boston for the foreseeable future, but beyond those four building blocks, there is plenty of uncertainty. Even the players the Celtics acquired from the Brooklyn Nets, via CSNNE, could be on the trade block, and there have been plenty of rumors about a Rajon Rondo deal.
With that in mind, there are a number of routes Boston could go to further their rebuilding process, which range from trying to bring in a young star to attempting to clear cap space and collect assets.
Sad though it is, the Big Three era is over, and as the C's front office looks to the future, let's consider six trades the organization could make to ramp up their current rebuilding process.
Note: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and MarShon Brooks cannot be dealt in trades involving multiple players until September.
Rondo and Humphries to Charlotte
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BOS receives: PG Kemba Walker, SG Ben Gordon, SG Jeffery Taylor, C Brendan Haywood and protected 2014 first-round pick (Via Detroit Pistons)
CHA receives: PG Rajon Rondo, PF Kris Humphries, 2015 second-round pick
Tired of being the laughingstock of the league, the Charlotte Bobcats made it clear by signing Al Jefferson that they want to become a legitimate factor in the Eastern Conference. Though the team is still a long way from title contention, they could be a prime landing spot for Rondo if they are serious about winning now.
Charlotte could offer Kemba Walker and Jeffery Taylor, a pair of talented, promising backcourt players, as the centerpieces of a Rondo deal, while also throwing in a first round pick in the 2014 draft, which is expected to be one of the most loaded in recent memory.
Having an additional 2014 first-round pick, which Charlotte received from the Detroit Pistons, would give Boston three selections in the draft, their own, Charlotte’s and Brooklyn’s, giving them the chance to grab multiple impact players or potentially pull off another blockbuster trade. While the Charlotte pick likely wouldn’t land them Andrew Wiggins it could potentially help them move up in the lottery.
Walker still needs to improve his shot selection, but he averaged 17.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game for Charlotte in the 2012-13 season, while Taylor is a tremendous athlete and a versatile defender who can play both the 2-guard and small forward.
To make the salaries work, Charlotte could include the expiring contract of Ben Gordon as well as the remaining two years and $4.1 million of Brendan Haywood’s deal. This maneuver would provide the Celtics with a stopgap at center as they continue to develop Sullinger and Olynyk.
Boston could also send Kris Humphries’ expiring contract to the Bobcats, giving them a strong rebounder opposite Jefferson while also offering more minutes for their young forwards.
This deal would clearly make Boston worse in the short term, but Walker looks like he should have a very good professional career, and the additional draft pick would certainly be appealing to Boston’s front office.
Bass and Wallace to Houston
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BOS receives: PG Patrick Beverly, PF Greg Smith, C Omer Asik
HOU receives: SF Gerald Wallace, PF Brandon Bass, 2015 first-round pick (Via Los Angeles Clippers)
Moving Gerald Wallace’s horrendous contract will undoubtedly be one of Boston’s main priorities during the 2013-14 season. The Celtics had to take him in the deal with the Nets, but a rapidly aging forward who shot 39.7 percent from the field in 2012-13 is not exactly the kind of guy a rebuilding team wants to keep for $30 million over three years.
Luckily, the Houston Rockets are in desperate need of a power forward who can shoot jumpers to stretch the floor for Dwight Howard, and though Kevin McHale has said Houston does not plan to trade Omer Asik, it is possible they could be persuaded if the right deal emerges.
Though the remaining $13.4 million on Brandon Bass’ contract is not exactly attractive, he is a player who could provide the Rockets with some more muscle inside, and the kind of touch from mid-range that a team needs with Dwight Howard down low.
For Boston, getting two promising young pieces in Patrick Beverly and Greg Smith would give them depth and add more up-and-comers to their nucleus. Beverly was excellent in the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder, averaging 11.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, while Smith averaged six points and 4.6 boards in the regular season and proved that he is a capable rotation player.
Acquiring Asik would give Boston a true starting center for the first time since Kendrick Perkins was dealt, and though his upside may be limited as a 27-year-old, he proved with the Rockets that given consistent minutes he can produce, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in 30 minutes of work per night.
Houston may not be too eager to deal Beverly, who has a legitimate chance to start in the 2013-14 season, but the opportunity to bring in a power forward like Bass who fits their system and another first-round pick could be enough to make them go for it, especially if Asik’s trade demands hold firm.
Rondo and Wallace to Detroit
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BOS receives: PG Rodney Stuckey, SF Khris Middleton, PF Charlie Villanueva, C Andre Drummond, 2016 first-round pick
DET receives: PG Rajon Rondo, SF Gerald Wallace, C Fab Melo
This is a version of a trade originally posited by Bill Simmons in a BS Report podcast with Zach Lowe, and it is one that makes sense for Boston if they do decide to trade Rondo.
Andre Drummond was dominant in limited minutes as a rookie, averaging 7.9 points, 7.6 boards and 1.6 blocks per game while posting an outstanding PER of 21.69. Though his offensive game is still incredibly raw, he is a tremendous interior defender and has shown the ability to finish off the pick-and-roll, shooting 66.2 percent as the roll man per Synergy Sports.
The 19-year-old big possesses as much upside as any player in the league and could potentially grow into an All-Star down the road.
Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva are nothing more than filler to make the salaries match and will be contracts that come off the books for Boston in the 2014 offseason. Khris Middleton has shown a nice touch from mid-range and can also be a spot-up threat from three, but it is unlikely he emerges as an impact player in the league.
The 2016 first-round pick would give Boston another asset they could potentially use in a trade or keep and try to add a young piece if they choose to go that route.
The Pistons may be hesitant to take on Wallace’s contract and give up Drummond, but the opportunity to build around Rondo, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe is one that would be difficult to pass up. With Rondo and Wallace in the starting lineup Detroit’s spacing might be historically terrible, but they would be among the league’s best defensive units.
If Detroit can stomach the idea of shipping out Drummond this could be one of the better offers Boston gets for Rondo.
Lee and Crawford to Oklahoma City
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BOS receives: SG Jeremy Lamb, SF Perry Jones, PF Trevor Booker, trade exception from Oklahoma City
OKC receives: SG Courtney Lee, SG Jordan Crawford
WAS receives: SG Thabo Sefolosha, C Fab Melo
This three-team deal would allow Boston to get Courtney Lee’s contract off the books while also bringing in a pair of prospects in Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones who still possess the upside to emerge as solid NBA players.
Lamb barely played in his rookie season, but averaged 19 points, 4.3 boards and 2.3 assists in the 2013 Orlando Summer League and is a capable shooter with three-point range.
Jones was also a victim of Scott Brooks’ rotation, but was considered a lottery talent before concerns about his knee caused him to plummet in the 2012 draft.
Being on a rebuilding Celtics team would give both the opportunity to play meaningful minutes and develop far more than they would competing for time with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
For the Thunder, bringing in Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford would give them two guards who could potentially help replace the three-point shooting of Kevin Martin. Lee is also a much better defender than Martin and can handle the ball in a pinch as well.
The trade exception from OKC would give Boston another chip to potentially bring in a star or impact player through a deal, while shipping out Fab Melo and Jordan Crawford would clear a little bit of cap room and prove the Celtics’ commitment to Bradley, Olynyk and Sullinger.
Trevor Booker is a hard-nosed player and one who can make his presence felt on the glass, but he lost minutes to Kevin Seraphin with the Washington Wizards and is likely not a part of the organizaiton's long-term plans.
This is hardly a blockbuster deal, but it is a low impact move that could appeal to Boston if they want to bring in more young talent and shed some players who may have already peaked.
Rondo to Minnesota
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BOS receives: PG Ricky Rubio, SG Alexey Shved, SF Shabazz Muhammad, PF Derrick Williams, 2016 first-round pick
MIN receives: PG Rajon Rondo, SG Jordan Crawford, PF Shavlik Randolph, 2014 second-round pick
This deal would only happen if the Minnesota Timberwolves really feel that Kevin Love might exercise his player option and bolt after the 2014-15 season or force a trade to a contender, but it is one that would net Boston plenty of intriguing young talent.
The combination of Rondo and Love running the pick-and-roll would be absolutely deadly, and if the Celtics called about this deal, Minnesota would likely have to think long and hard about it.
Ricky Rubio has not shot above 36 percent in either of his two NBA seasons, but he is one of the league’s best passers and sees angles that few others do. For his career, he has averaged 10.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists while managing to recover fairly effectively from an ACL tear of his own.
The 22-year-old still has plenty of room to grow and could potentially be the Celtics’ point guard of the future if he can develop a consistent outside shot.
Alexey Shved hit the rookie wall hard in the second half of the 2012-13 season, but though the 24-year-old combo guard had difficulty knocking down shots in the league, he is a versatile offensive player with excellent court vision who is capable of making plays for himself and his teammates.
Derrick Williams and Shabazz Muhammad will not make much impact on the defensive end, but they are both competent scorers with three-point range who can create match-up problems thanks to their skill sets.
Both need to work on their consistency, as they have a tendency to disappear at times, but they are superb talents who could be starting caliber players for years to come.
This is not necessarily a likely trade, given that Minnesota would be giving up four of their most promising players for a 27-year-old point guard coming off of a major knee injury, but a starting five of Rondo, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Love and Nikola Pekovic would be among the best in the league if they could stay healthy.
For Boston, this move would weaken them in the short-term as none of the players they would acquire are as good as Rondo at his best, but it would give them more pieces to build around or potentially deal in their pursuit of another superstar.
Rondo to Indiana
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BOS receives: SG Eric Gordon, SF Lance Stephenson, PF Miles Plumlee, 2014 first-round pick (from IND)
IND receives: PG Rajon Rondo, SG MarShon Brooks
NOP receives: PG George Hill, SG Jordan Crawford, C Fab Melo
While Eric Gordon has battled a number of injuries during his tenure in New Orleans, he is still just 24 years old and boasts career averages of 18 points, 2.5 boards and 3.3 assists per game. He has also proven himself to be a quality defender and a decent outside shooter, giving him the kind of all-around game a franchise could build around if he could stay healthy.
Losing Rondo would obviously hurt, but with Bradley sliding over to point guard and both Gordon and Lance Stephenson capable of doing some ball-handling Boston might be able to survive the loss of their elite facilitator.
Stephenson is coming off of his first season playing regular minutes, and he proved to be a nightmare defensively, an aggressive rebounder and even an occasional scoring threat. He averaged 9.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game in 19 playoff games for the Indiana Pacers.
The 22-year-old wing still has plenty of untapped potential and could become a star in this league if he improves as a shooter and decision-maker off the dribble.
Miles Plumlee is a work in progress on both ends of the court, but looked decent in the Orlando Summer League after barely seeing the court as a rookie. At the very least he could provide some more athleticism in the frontcourt for the Celts.
Losing young 2-guards in Brooks and Crawford would hurt, but bringing in another first-round selection would ultimately help to ease the pain, even it fell in the mid-20s.
With Rondo, Indiana would be an even bigger threat to knock off the Miami Heat. Swapping Gordon for George Hill and Crawford would be a downgrade in talent for the Pelicans, but also might give them a better shot at making the playoffs in 2014, since Hill has little injury history and has proven he can thrive off the bench.