The Celtics have some very tradable assets.
However, this season is far from normal. There is an outrageous disparity right now between the top and bottom teams in the league, and a lot of this can be attributed to the elite crop of college players potentially declaring for the draft next summer. Because of that impending fact, a lot of teams are going to start deciding their season's fate earlier than normal.
Boston is just one of many teams who will be declaring themselves a buyer or seller in the coming weeks.
With those announcements coming so soon, there will be added risk and added reward. A win could immediately propel someone into the postseason or land them one of those coveted draft picks in June; a loss could cripple a franchise for years to come. A lot of front office jobs could be solidified or lost before Christmas this season.
The Celtics, in particular, are in an intriguing position. They haven't fully declared what their directional plan is. Do they plan to be bad for the next few seasons? Are they still hoping that Rajon Rondo's return will whip the current roster into playoff shape?
Maybe they are looking to make a deal that will knock them out of the lottery's top five but get them a piece they can pair with Rondo for a run next season. Keep in mind that once Danny Ainge made up his mind about a direction in 2007, it didn't take long for the Celtics to enter title contention.
To stay ahead of the curve, Boston must be ever-watchful. These are three potential deals that they have to start mulling over right now.
Send Jeff Green to Houston Rockets for Omer Asik
Elias says: The Rockets have been outscored by 35 pts during the 93 min that Dwight Howard and Omer Asik have been on the floor together.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 20, 2013
Deciphering why Ainge is so attached to Jeff Green is a discussion for another day. Through three weeks of the 2013-14 season, it has become pretty clear that Green isn't stepping up to become a consistent threat at either end. He has been far from the Most Improved Player/potential All-Star that many predicted he would become.
Playing as the team's top player, his numbers aren't even career-highs. He is averaging 14.8 points and 4.2 rebounds. During his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he never averaged less than 15 points per game.
His inconsistencies have been just as glaring as when he was second fiddle to Paul Pierce. For a player of Green's caliber and responsibility, back-to-back games scoring two and four points, respectively, is unacceptable.
Gorman on what's happened to Green: "I don't think anyone knows, I don't even think Jeff Green knows what's happened to Jeff Green"— Jay O (@MrTrpleDouble10) November 20, 2013
With all that said, Green is still an effective NBA player and can be dynamic in the right situation. He has proven that he isn't a No. 1 or even No. 2 option, as he isn't consistent enough offensively and his defense lags when he isn't scoring. However, Green is still capable of dropping 24 points and a game-winner on the Miami Heat, and he can defend elite wings reasonably well.
Playing for a team like the Rockets would be a little like going back in time for Green. He doesn't have to worry about scoring the most points, as James Harden will take that responsibility off his shoulders, and Dwight Howard is there to take nearly 100 percent of the media scrutiny. He'll also be treated to many more open looks than he is seeing as Boston's No. 1 option.
With all that attention being payed to Howard and Harden, Green and Chandler Parsons can play their perimeter games and enjoy open threes and transition buckets to their heart's content.
Coming the other way, Omer Asik's desire to be traded has been made very public recently. Furthermore, he was benched for two games last week and has played 11 total minutes in the team's last two games. For a guy who averaged 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds while starting 82 games last season, that is alarming and a sign that he is on his way out.
In Boston, Asik will get a better opportunity for playing time, as he will automatically be placed ahead of Kris Humphries and Vitor Faverani in the rotation. Once he proves something to Brad Stevens for a week or so, he would likely also start ahead of Kelly Olynyk, with Jared Sullinger sliding into the power forward spot beside him.
Asik is a very good NBA starting center who is just 27 years old and could be an asset to the Celtics for years to come. Also, he won't make the team worlds better without Rondo, so the possibility of landing a great pick in next year's draft is still there.
Green is making $8.7 million this year, while Asik will take home $8.37 million, with minor increases for both next season. The salaries are close enough for the trade to work, though Green has a player option for $9.2 million in 2015-16, while Asik is a free agent.
This move helps both teams, while at the same time, either eliminating a player or personality they have grown tired of or one who hasn't lived up to their potential.
Send Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace to New York Knicks for Amar'e Stoudemire
Based on my story, a source said Boston might be willing to trade for Amar'e Stoudemire and send Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace to NY.— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) November 20, 2013
This deal was first conceived by Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling in a recent story examining what the New York Knicks may have to do.
At 3-8, the Knicks have looked very bad in most of their games this season. Some of that has stemmed from injuries to key players, but a lot of it has to do with coaching and personnel makeup. Even in a game they looked solid, they were unable to top the Indiana Pacers.
In that game, the Knicks jacked up 30 three-pointers, while getting to the line just 17 times. In comparison, the bruising Pacers were 28-of-36 on free throws. That is the style New York needs to start balancing themselves out.
Carmelo Anthony scoring 30 every night and J.R. Smith getting his 21 off the bench is great, however, that is a lot of jumpshooting. The Knicks are second-to-last in the NBA in free-throw attempts per game at 17.8.
Getting Tyson Chandler back in a month or so won't fix this. He isn't an offensive threat, and at 31 years old, he is becoming an injury liability. Anthony hasn't adopted the paint and probably shouldn't in order to remain effective on this style of team. Andrea Bargnani certainly isn't capable of it, and Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't seem to be healthy, willing or getting enough minutes to bang inside for the tough baskets.
Stoudemire has played 11.1 minutes on average over his seven games this season. Even with Chandler out, he isn't being utilized by head coach Mike Woodson. The Knicks will jump at a remotely quality trade offer for Stoudemire; they have to.
For the Celtics, hopefully that means swapping two of their bad contracts for one of New York's.
Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries are still capable NBA players. Both of their styles agree with taking contact and getting to the free-throw line. At Humphries' peak, he was getting to the line 4.5 times per game. Wallace has a career average of 4.5 attempts per game, and he has a well-documented style of toughness.
Metta World Peace is having knee issues and hasn't been a hugely successful signing anyway, shooting a miserable 28.6 percent from beyond the arc. Wallace will help fill that small forward hole next to Iman Shumpert, allowing the young player to get minutes at shooting guard as well. Wallace is shooting 47.1 percent on limited threes.
Stoudemire seems to think he is ready to play and make major contributions right now, per ESPN New York's Ian Begley. Boston would give him more of an opportunity to do so than he would have in New York. While Humphries wasn't playing a lot in their crowded frontcourt, Stevens has no favorites. Amar'e would be given the opportunity to earn minutes. If he played well enough, Boston could free up Brandon Bass for a potential trade as well.
The Wallace-Humphries pairing will make just over $22 million this season, while Stoudemire is at $21.68 million. The Knicks would be able to cut Humphries' $12 million after this season, an attractive asset considering Stoudemire's deal bumps to $23.41 million in 2014-15.
Send Kris Humphries and Jordan Crawford to Indiana Pacers for Danny Granger
Danny Granger did make the trip, but will begin practicing "when he doesn't have any pain in his calf," according to head coach Frank Vogel.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) November 20, 2013
This deal is strictly hypothetical at this point, but it is worth considering all the same.
As great as Jordan Crawford has been for Boston while stabilizing the point guard position, Rajon Rondo isn't gone forever and will be back at some point. At that time, what does Crawford return to?
Boston has Courtney Lee and Phil Pressey playing well in backup roles right now for each guard slot, and with the ball being taken out of Crawford's hands, he could become the mediocre gunner he was before.
Kris Humphries is a big contract, but he is also a quality backup big who can still play the game. The situation in Boston doesn't suit him. As an expiring deal, he isn't in the Celtics long-term plans. But a team in contention could use him off the bench ahead of an erratic Ian Mahinmi, who is getting nearly 16 minutes per game.
Crawford would likewise be an upgrade over Orlando Johnson as the team's fourth guard, backing up Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is shooting 36.7 percent from beyond the arc, and Indiana doesn't have a great deal of talent from outside.
The Celtics would flip one expiring for another, while also losing Crawford, who could be gone at year's end anyway. They would be selling high on Crawford, while also assuming the risk that is Danny Granger's recent body of work.
Granger hasn't been healthy since a 2012 playoff run that saw him average 17 points and 5.6 rebounds against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. He has been a talented offensive player in the league for a long time, but the injuries are piling up on the 30-year-old.
Which of these trades would you prefer?
Granger presents an interesting asset to Boston, though. His current health issues will keep him out of the lineup for a little while, meaning the Celtics will not get immediately better with this trade. He is also every bit the expiring contract that Humphries is. However, if he should show something by the end of the season, the Celtics will have the inside track at re-signing him for a reasonable price.
When Granger does return, he would have to likely get most of his minutes from the shooting guard spot, which he has experience playing. His size and offensive capabilities would be an interesting pairing with Avery Bradley. However, if a Jeff Green trade happens, Granger can also play the small forward position. His days as an NBA starter may be over.
Granger could be paired with Rondo, Green/Bradley and a stud lottery pick for a 2014-15 run.
The Pacers are winning big right now, and they did so last year without Granger. If they can upgrade two of their bench spots by sacrificing an injured player and expiring contract, that isn't a bad deal.
Granger is scheduled to make $14 million this season and is a free agent in the coming summer. Humphries will earn $12 million before his contract expires in the summer. Crawford will make $2.16 million this year, with a qualifying offer of $3.2 million for next season. Those numbers line up pretty well and the deal could potentially help two teams with very different immediate plans.
All contract information courtesy of HoopsWorld.com.