It took until this past Tuesday for Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to finally pull the trigger on a trade. The Celtics acquired Memphis Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless and Oklahoma City forward Ryan Gomes, sending guard Courtney Lee and a 2016 second-round pick to Memphis while the Grizzlies send two future second-round picks to OKC.
For anyone who held their breath waiting for a Celtics trade, you may exhale. But it feels like there will be another shoe dropping soon. Let the anxiety of what happens next begin.
While a little more complicated than the original one-for-one swap initially reported, this deal is small potatoes. There’s no way that Trader Dan disconnects the phone and says, “Yup, I had a productive 2014. No more calls until May.” Just like this trade that expanded, Ainge is always looking to make deals.
And the next one could really be something.
For one, the logjam at guard hasn’t cleared up at all. If anything, it got more confusing. Bayless, like Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford, is a combo guard. If Bayless is on a four-month trial period, will his play affect Crawford and/or Bradley? Will Phil Pressey even play anymore?
Since winning the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week award in December for averaging 23.3 points (.610 field-goal percentage, .522 from three), 6.7 assists and 1.3 turnovers during three wins, Crawford is averaging 13.1 points (.366 FG, .266 from three), 6.1 assists and 2.5 turnovers. Is Crawford now bad enough for head coach Brad Stevens to take the ball out of his hands?
There was also the rumor that the Miami Heat were interested in acquiring Crawford, according to The New York Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence. It is possible Bayless has 20 games to supplant Crawford and make him expendable.
Then there is the question of what about MarShon Brooks. He was sent to the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s NBA Developmental League affiliate, with homework. “We’re going to help him with his dribble, and we’re going to help him develop his defensive game,” Red Claws coach Mike Taylor said to The Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy.
So far, Brooks tried to win the NBADL MVP in one weekend, averaging 29 points, seven rebounds and 4.7 assists in three games while shooting .493.
Either Boston is preparing Brooks for becoming a regular in the Celtics rotation, or Brooks is being showcased to entice bidders for his scoring talent.
Though Boston is mired in a slump (lost seven of eight games), Stevens has managed to get the best out of many of his players. Besides Crawford, it’s easy to imagine some teams being interested in what Kris Humphries provides off the bench. Combine that with Humphries’ expiring $12 million contract, and he’s the ideal rental player for a playoff team with championship aspirations.
The coming augmentations will clearly reveal whether Boston is in tank mode or going for the playoffs. Swapping Lee for Bayless (Gomes was waived) doesn’t make Boston significantly better or worse.
What the trade does is clear about $1 million in cap room, giving the Celtics more flexibility in future deals. Now Boston has a little more wiggle room to add salary for a talented player.
Boston and Houston can put together a trade centered around Humphries for Asik, and it would make sense for both teams: Boston would get a decent center, while Houston gets a productive player to bolster its bench with $12 million in savings after Humphries’ contract expires.
That’s just speculation for now, but the Celtics are in better position to deal now than they were just 24 hours ago. With Boston now behind the ninth-place Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference before Wednesday’s games, the next deal could reveal which road Ainge will take Boston down.
The trade deadline is 44 days away. That’s plenty of time for another shoe to drop. Trader Dan is just warming up.
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