An up-and-down postseason brings about question marks for Bradley's future.
At this stage of the NBA offseason, the Boston Celtics can have no untouchable players. Things are in such a state of flux right now that even an asset as valuable as Avery Bradley must be considered tradeable.
Bradley is held in considerably high regard around Boston. While he isn't viewed quite as highly among the rest of the league, Bradley is certainly a player most would love to have.
The 22-year-old who has already made an All-Defensive team and started 16 playoff games after just three seasons in the league owns an impressive resume. However, Bradley has struggled to gain footing as an offensive player, which the shooting guard position tends to call for. There have been glimpses of competency there, but mostly by virtue of hustle and quality point guard play.
Bradley has also already had surgery on both shoulders to repair a pesky dislocation problem. The 22-year-old with all that talent gets knocked down a peg or two when you consider that he missed 32 games last season and 10 playoff games the year before due to injury.
There are technically two years remaining on Bradley's rookie contract. This upcoming year is guaranteed at $2.5 million, and then Boston will tender a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent next summer. The Celtics hope to have plenty of cap room at that time to give their shooting guard a raise and extension, but the possibility is there that they lose him if the bidding gets too high.
So, when teams come calling about Bradley's availability this summer, general manger Danny Ainge will have to weigh his options before responding.
Get your yellow legal pads ready. It's pros and cons time!
The biggest pro of most trades is obviously what comes back in the exchange.
Some trades are done to unload contracts or uncooperative players, but to ship away Avery Bradley, the return would certainly be the most important aspect.
It is important to remember that a straight-up trade of Bradley is unlikely. Alone he won't return much, considering how young and unproven he still is overall. There are pieces of Bradley's game that teams love, so he would most likely be dealt in a package.
The Celtics picked up four future first-round picks already this summer from the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets. There are mounds of evidence proving that building solely through the draft won't win very much in the NBA, making any of those picks a great partner in this trade scenario.
Bradley and a pick is much more likely to bring back a big-time player. DeMarcus Cousins is one guy who finds himself in a handful of rumors regularly. Cousins is on the same contract schedule as Bradley, so the Sacramento Kings have to consider the thought of losing him outright next summer as well. There are many other possibilities out there, and Cousins is just one example.
Something else to keep in mind is the Celtics' $10.2 million trade exception brought in during the Nets trade. That is another valuable asset that could be paired with Bradley and a pick to bring in a star player on a much bigger contract.
The bottom line is that unlike a large portion of the Celtics roster, Bradley has value as the headlining piece of a package deal. Outside of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, Bradley may bring back the most of any Celtic in a trade scenario.
Since Kevin Garnett arrived on the scene in 2007, the Boston Celtics have been primarily a defensive team. That point was hammered home more and more in recent years, when the offense really started stalling.
While Garnett and Doc Rivers, both major proponents of that defensive style, have moved away from Boston, that culture shouldn't leave with them. One major way it can stay with the Celtics is through Avery Bradley.
The roster is nowhere near complete, but currently Boston doesn't look the least bit frightening defensively in the frontcourt. However, players like Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk can be helped greatly at that end by having Bradley in front of them.
His hustling and tenacious style help set a tone before the offense's possession has begun. Bradley has frustrated a majority of the league's top guards over the last two seasons, causing countless turnovers and immobilizing hesitancy.
On top of making the big guys' work a little easier on defense, Bradley has blended well with Rajon Rondo on that end. Their styles mesh well together, as Bradley's flypaper-like foot movement covers for his backcourt-mate's gambling and lane jumping.
If the Celtics made a move to deal Bradley without bringing in a capable defender, they would be in great danger of giving up 100-plus points per game.
It is important to sell high whenever making a trade. You always want to deal a player viewed in a higher regard than his game actually deserves.
Right now, there is every possibility that Avery Bradley is that type of player.
His defensive style wins so many points from fans because it shows great effort and is simply unusual to see. There are few players in the NBA who attack the ball quite as hard and consistently as Bradley. It is such a shock to see, in fact, that it covers up its many flaws.
For starters, the number of times his full-court pressure causes a turnover or rushed shot isn't that much greater than the number of times it has no individual effect on the possession. Teams routinely break through his first line of defense to score easy buckets.
But when he does force a mistake, it is so jarring that the other times seem minimized. The greater result of that skill is the stress and additional work it puts on the opposition, tiring them out sooner.
His defensive prowess also covers up for the fact that his offense leaves a lot to be desired. Bradley can post a 20-point game, which looks impressive on paper but in reality isn't all that incredible. Those 20-point games are few and far between, and the ones that do occur are usually the result of good surrounding offense.
With Rajon Rondo running the point, almost any NBA guard could rack up points. Most of what Bradley scores is the result of great play orchestration by his point guard. When Rondo went down last season, Bradley's inabilities as a ball-handler and shot-creator were badly exposed.
It seems that as long as he picks a couple pockets every now and then, the rest of this can be ignored. Bradley shot 40.2 percent from the floor and 31.7 from beyond the arc, but his hustle spackles those holes.
If Bradley is what he is, then now may be the best time to deal him.
The names Joe Johnson and Chauncey Billups may still sting a bit for Boston Celtics fans.
Both players were drafted into green jerseys, but before their rookie years were through they were playing for different teams. The Celtics gave up on two players who became perennial All-Stars far too soon, wanting to win right away instead of allowing them to grow.
Boston has a real success story on their hands with Avery Bradley. They drafted him in the first round and allowed him the necessary time to gain NBA confidence. He played for their D-League affiliate and worked his way onto the roster, eventually pulling a starting spot from Ray Allen.
Do they really want to risk throwing all that patience away for this generation's Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk?
Giving up Bradley at this stage, the Celtics would run serious risk of him becoming a star somewhere else. He won't turn 23 until late November, so the chances are still decent that his offense comes along. Bradley needs to get the confidence in his shoulders back to become an offensive factor. All that will come with age and experience.
Johnson needed confidence to assert himself in games, while Billups needed someone to believe in him as a point guard. Bradley has had a fair amount of drama and obstacles through his first few NBA seasons, all things the Celtics stuck with him through.
While their specialties come at the opposite end, the Celtics might not want to risk Bradley becoming the type of player Billups and Johnson did outside of Boston.
Defense is not going to be the Boston Celtics' only problem next season. Not only did Kevin Garnett leave, but the team's leading scorer and go-to offensive producer, Paul Pierce, is gone as well.
Taking a scorer like Pierce off a team does more than subtract 18-22 points per game. The effect he had on the entire roster was equal to more than simply the number of points he put up. His calming influence and ability to get his own shot saved many failed possessions from truly ruining momentum.
This has to do with an Avery Bradley trade because of what the Celtics have behind him. Bradley's offense is currently below average. He can do some things decently but shot only 40.2 percent from the floor last season. He was an offensive liability at times, especially without Rondo. Bradley had to be replaced by Jason Terry during crunch time because he simply wasn't potent enough.
The Celtics have a crowded group at shooting guard right now. Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford are still there with Bradley, while Boston brought in MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans in a trade. Lee, Crawford and Brooks are all more talented offensively than Bradley, and Bogans is a career 35.3 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
If the Celtics find their offense struggling to produce points next season, playing time will start shifting towards Lee or Brooks. If that is the case, then Bradley could become expendable.
A lot will depend on the direction and system Brad Stevens installs with his new team. If he is looking for fast-paced offense and outside shooting, Bradley may not be his guy. In order to clear minutes for the scorers behind him on the depth chart, dealing Avery in a package for a legitimate center would be appealing.
The biggest thing Avery Bradley has going for him to stay in Boston, outside of his defense, is that Rajon Rondo appears to want him there.
Back when Bradley was sent to the D-League as a rookie, it was Rondo who called and cheered him up. Back then, Rondo saw the potential he had and wants to essentially bring him up as a future teammate.
The decision to have Ray Allen come off the bench when he returned from injury two years ago wasn't entirely on Doc Rivers. The head coach was forced to make that call because Rondo and Bradley had bonded on the court and the point guard didn't want to switch back.
Rondo gave Bradley his shot, and the two succeeded while playing together. Unfortunately, due to the timing of their recent injuries, they only played together in 11 games last season. That makes it tough to remember, but the two did have great chemistry both defensively and in transition. There were easy fast-break points and clever backdoor cuts in abundance.
Courtney Lee didn't have that same success in the backcourt with Rondo. The other guys have never really played with him, so the chemistry is unknown.
One of the more temperamental players in the league, Rondo has already seen his two mentors and best teammates dealt to the Brooklyn Nets. If the Celtics move Bradley, that takes away nearly the entire starting lineup over one offseason. Who is to say what that will do to Rondo as a player and as a person.
Given that they only had a few games together last season, Boston should be willing to see the duo together again for an extended period, assuming Rondo returns quickly and Bradley's shoulders hold up.