The Boston Celtics are on the verge of imploding. They've lost six of their past seven and are about to smash into a back-breaking five-game West Coast road trip.
After surviving a hellacious November schedule, it looked like the Celtics would be able to compete for a playoff spot. Right now that isn't likely, which makes the team undeniable sellers before the trade deadline.
Here are five contracts Celtics general manager Danny Ainge would absolutely love to unload, ranked in the order of how difficult it will be to move them.
Keith Bogans is 33 years old and has failed to score a point in 28 minutes of action this season. He’s making a shade over $5 million to sit on the bench, and his PER is below 0.0. Why would anybody touch him?
Bogans’ contract is non-guaranteed over the next two seasons; it’s effectively expiring. That’s the primary reason why there might be good teams with depth issues that are willing to take on a career 35.3 percent three-point shooter who knows the ins and outs of professional basketball.
For $5 million it is not probable, even if it is an expiring contract. Bogans is old and on the downside of his career.
Kris Humphries is arguably Boston’s most pleasant surprise. He bangs on the glass, provides consistent and solid defense (both at the rim and in the pick-and-roll) and makes shots.
He’s shooting a robotic 68.2 percent in the restricted area and an above average 44.8 percent from the mid-range. No Celtic has a higher true shooting percentage or PER, and no Celtic has a better net rating.
Boston outscores its opponent by 4.5 points per 100 possessions when Humphries is on the court. When he sits, the opponent outscores the team by 5.6. The team’s offense goes from top 10 when he plays to third-worst in the league when he doesn’t, per NBA.com/Stats.
His $12 million deal comes off the books next season, which grants the question of why Boston would want to trade Humphries in the first place. He’s far from untouchable, but the likelihood of finding a trade partner that’s willing to take on his $12 million and relinquish anything of long-term value is not high.
At this point, Boston would be fine letting Humphries walk after the season. Or, since he’s only 28 years old and not a bad player, maintain interest in keeping him on a long-term deal for significantly less money.
Brandon Bass can still shoot with the best of them, but this season he’s added several layers to his resume. He’s now a reliable option in the post, a stout, quick defender (one of the best at his position on the ball) and is posting career-best rebounding numbers.
But moving Bass will be difficult thanks to the $6.9 million he’s owed next season. The Celtics won’t take back a longer deal in any deal that ships Bass out of town, and it’s difficult to envision a general manager giving up free cap space to take Bass on.
He’s a very effective NBA player, only 28 years old and getting incrementally better on both ends of the floor. But on the open market, that contract has him wrapped in barbed wire.
Courtney Lee has quietly rebounded from his disastrous campaign last season. He’s Boston’s best three-point shooter (44.2 percent, good for 10th in the league), ranks second on the team in true shooting percentage (57.3 percent) and has an above average PER.
Lee has also been a menace on the defensive end. He leaps into passing lanes at opportune moments and does a great job staying in front of his man and fighting through screens.
All these skills give Lee value around the league, so why is he second on this list? Blame the contract. Lee’s deal is guaranteed through 2016; including this year, he’s owed $16.35 million. He’s been an effective player, but not enough for a two-year commitment at over $5 million per.
There are more than a handful of playoff teams that could use Lee’s energy off the bench to jolt their bench’s backcourt, but his contract should scare most of them away.
Nearly a third of Boston’s turnovers are caused by Gerald Wallace whenever he’s on the floor. That level of carelessness has crippled Boston’s rhythm and only begins to explain why its offense is 1.0 point per 100 possessions worse off when the 31-year-old is on the floor.
Wallace still can’t shoot. He’s attempted five mid-range shots all season and is horribly below average from behind the three-point line. The good news is that 62 percent of his attempts have come in the restricted area, where he still looks like an NBA player.
But 68.3 percent of his made field goals there are assisted. He can still cut into space and play very good on-ball defense, but Wallace’s worth as a regular contributor on any team, let alone one headed for the lottery, is nonexistent.
Convinced he can’t be traded? Hold on, it gets worse. Wallace’s contract is fully guaranteed through 2016. He stands to make another $20.2 million combined over the next two seasons.
From a dollar-to-production ratio, Wallace has one of the worst contracts in the league. Moving him is impossible without the inclusion of at least one first-round draft pick.
All salary figures used in this article can be found at ShamSports.com.
Michael Pina has bylines at Bleacher Report, Red94, CelticsHub, The Classical, Sports On Earth and Boston Magazine. Follow him here.