The Boston Celtics continue to stockpile assets.
By acquiring Joel Anthony more draft picks from the Miami Heat, Boston is leaving absolutely no doubt that it's thinking about the future and making some serious strides in the rebuilding process, even if it means losing in 2013-14.
- Golden State Warriors get MarShon Brooks and Jordan Crawford
- Miami Heat get Toney Douglas
- Boston Celtics gets Joel Anthony, conditional first-round pick (from Philadelphia 76ers via Miami) and 2016 second-round pick (from Miami)
Wojnarowski explains that "Miami will send a first-round pick it owns from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Celtics, but that pick becomes two second-round picks should the Sixers miss the playoffs in 2013-14 and 2014-15."
Regardless of when the pick is conveyed, it's still yet another asset in Boston's collection of them.
Crawford had experienced quite the resurgence during the 2013-14 season, as Brad Stevens placed a heavy emphasis on letting him function as more of a playmaker than a scorer.
In early December, the combo guard told MassLive.com's Jay King about his relationship with his head coach: "I think he’s just given me more of a chance, and I appreciate him for that. I just want to repay him by just playing hard, doing what I can for the team.”
Well, Crawford did a lot.
He was averaging 13.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game and shooting 41.4 percent from the field. After flaming out with both the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards, he was actually a positive contributor, and that allowed the C's to turn him into an asset.
As CBS Sports' Zach Harper wrote:
With Rajon Rondo coming back this week, the Celtics were looking to move Crawford to clear space and playing time for their leader. The Celtics don't save any money in the deal and are right up against the luxury tax line. But they do receive future first round picks to help their reloading effort.
As for Brooks, he clearly didn't have much of a future with the team. Spending some time in the D-League, the Providence product played only 73 minutes in Beantown before he was dealt to the Golden State Warriors, with whom he'll get another fresh start.
But for Boston, what was given up doesn't really matter. It's all about what's still in place and what was gained for the future.
First of all, let's go over the draft picks.
That's...a lot of picks.
Even if the Sixers fail to make the playoffs either of the next two seasons, which means Boston would get an extra second-rounder rather than a coveted first-round selection, Boston is still brimming over with draft picks.
By adding even more, Boston is ensuring its ability to package them, either in an attempt to move up in the selection process or to deal them for a star. It's essentially the same situation the Phoenix Suns are in, and Ryan McDonough's quote in an interview with NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper might as well apply to the C's:
I think one of the things that’s important for people to realize is that we may not draft four players even if we have four picks. Our preference would probably be to maybe package a few of them. We’re obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available. That’s kind of generally what we’ve wanted to do, not only with our draft-pick situation but also with the cap space that we’ve acquired.
Boston is in the same boat.
In all likelihood, general manager Danny Ainge will be working with two first-round picks in 2014, three in 2015 (Philadelphia should make the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference next season) and two more in 2016.
The picks are more spread out than they are in the desert, but the Celtics still have more than they can use, as they aren't going to be interested in adding so many young players over such a short stretch.
So, what about the current roster? Who are the keepers?
Rajon Rondo is the only true star going forward, and that's assuming he returns to full strength after the ACL tear that has prevented him from suiting up thus far in the 2013-14 campaign. Jeff Green isn't quite a star, but he's still a quality player who works well as a secondary or tertiary offensive option.
Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger may be around for the long haul, but neither of them deserves to be in the "star" category.
Not only is Rondo the lone star, but Boston doesn't have much cap space to use when potential standouts hit the open market. Assuming the Celtics don't pick up the non-guaranteed salaries of Keith Bogans and Phil Pressey, ShamSports.com shows that Boston will have $57.5 million committed for 2014-15 once Anthony inevitably picks up his player option.
That doesn't exactly leave them space to rebuild via free agency. And with Rajon Rondo's contract up for extension going into 2015-16 and Gerald Wallace still on the books, it won't be easy to add another star until 2016.
It's still important for Boston to figure out how it's going to acquire that complementary piece for Rondo before he hits the market, and this deal makes it abundantly clear. In fact, B/R's Zach Buckley even recommends that the C's shop Rondo too, completely restarting the rebuild and maximizing the value of their own draft picks.
Whether or not Rondo is a central figure in the rebuilding vision, the plan is the same. By swinging deals that involve two players who could bring back a relatively sizable return and receiving only draft picks (Joel Anthony might as well not count), Boston is clearly counting on building through the draft.
Regardless of whether Ainge chooses to make all of his selections or packages them for better picks and players, it's all about the early-summer selection process in Beantown.