My imagination tends to run a little wild when it comes to NBA trade ideas, and Bill Simmons has thrown a few out during his 2013 season preview with Jalen Rose that I can't help but analyze.
So the deal, as constructed by Simmons, goes as follows: The Celtics give up Rondo, Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks in exchange for the expiring contracts of John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Jimmer Fredette and Greivis Vasquez, as well as rookie Ben McLemore.
First of all, that mega-deal wouldn't fly under current CBA rules on trades because the Kings would be acquiring too much money. Adding Chuck Hayes to the Celtics' haul makes it work in ESPN's NBA Trade Machine (check out the deal here). And even though Hayes' deal isn't expiring, it's significantly less painful to bear than Wallace's.
Salaries and technicalities aside, this trade is obviously about Rondo and McLemore at its core. And I may have disagreed with Simmons on his notion of trading Rudy Gay to the Utah Jazz, but I think he's onto something with this one.
The Celtics are on the precipice of a full-scale rebuilding. After already trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, the only step that hasn't been taken is shipping Rondo out. And according to ESPN's Marc Stein, it may only be a matter of time before it happens. In his latest power rankings, Stein said, "They have to trade Rajon Rondo. You know it, I know it, everyone in basketball knows it."
This group of young prospects and expiring contracts would probably have to be sweetened up with some future draft considerations. Combine that with the primary pieces and it should make general manager Danny Ainge at least think about pulling the trigger.
Why It Works for Boston
Between the three of them, Rondo, Wallace and Brooks are owed nearly $60 million over the next three seasons. The total value of the incoming contracts from Sacramento would be worth right around $30 million. And as stated earlier, four of those deals either will or can (by not exercising options or making qualifying offers) expire this summer. The only two they'd have to pay next year are McLemore and Hayes.
A rebuilding team should look at that kind of savings the way a couponer looks at the Sunday paper.
And as an added benefit, the Celtics would get some promising prospects who can be a part of the new team's future.
Ben McLemore may have slid to the No. 7 pick in this past summer's draft, but some feel he may be the most talented player in this class. As a freshman at Kansas, the 6'5" wing averaged 15.9 points while hitting 42 percent of his three-point attempts. And at the draft combine, he showed he has the potential to be more than just a spot-up shooter, measuring a 6'8" wingspan and a 42-inch vertical leap.
Another prospect they could be intrigued by is Jimmer Fredette. After Jimmermania swept over the nation during the 2010-11 NCAA season, Sacramento picked up the former BYU guard with the No. 10 pick in the 2011 draft. But he never fit in with the Kings, especially after his biggest fan in the organization—coach Paul Westphal—was fired seven games into Jimmer's rookie season.
Despite never being surrounded by consistency both on the floor and off, and never having a defined role, Jimmer still managed to emerge as a capable three-point specialist last year—hitting 41.7 percent of his long-range attempts.
His skills would almost certainly be better utilized by Brad Stevens in Boston—who made a living at Butler getting more out of his seemingly less athletic players than "experts" thought possible.
Why It Works For Sacramento
The Kings would be sacrificing some enticing potential by giving up McLemore, and they'd be saddled with a pretty tough financial burden in Wallace's contract. But landing Rondo could put them in the hunt for a playoff spot and would definitely make life easier for DeMarcus Cousins.
Rondo is arguably the best distributor in the NBA, leading the league in assists per game the last two seasons and averaging over 11 in each of the last three. His career assist percentage is fifth all time.
He's also a premier defender on the perimeter. The upgrade on both ends of the floor would be visible and immediate.
Trading six players in exchange for three might leave the cupboard somewhat bare, but imagine a starting five of Rondo, Brooks, Wallace, Carl Landry and Cousins. Spots six through 12 are going to be extremely tight this year, but that group might have the potential to squeeze into the postseason.
Does It Make Sense?
No one knows for sure if Ainge will try to move Rondo or not. Right now, everyone's saying the right things, but speculation isn't likely to go away anytime soon, and suitors will be lining up if the star point guard is ever publicly made available.
Not all of them may have the right pieces to put together a legitimate offer. But to me—and I guess to Bill Simmons as well—the Sacramento Kings do.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
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