There were a lot of takeaways from the Boston Celtics' recent three-way trade with the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors that shipped Jordan Crawford out of town, but the biggest one was that Boston is undoubtedly, unabashedly tanking.
What does that mean for the rest of the players on Boston's roster? Play well enough, and you can get off the sinking ship.
That being said, Brandon Bass may be stuck in Boston for this year. When the Celtics took on Joel Anthony's contract for next season, it was a signal that they're most likely going to hold off on making any splashy free-agent acquisitions this offseason and wait instead for the 2015 offseason.
If that assessment is accurate, the Celtics likely won't be in a rush to dump Bass and his deal that will pay him $6.9 million next year. He'll likely have more value as an expiring contract then, anyhow.
Of course, there's a possibility that some teams will be willing to move assets for Bass. He's a solid individual defender with a defined skill (mid-range shooting), and you could certainly do much worse if he's your third- or fourth-best big.
With Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger also ready for big minutes, perhaps the Celtics would be willing to take a little less value in order to get their young forwards more reps. Let's take a look at a few teams who should be calling at the deadline for a price check on Bass.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, from the top down, desperately want to make the playoffs. While other teams in their position would happily call it a season and take the draft pick, the Cavs made the move for Luol Deng to ensure they'd be right in the thick of the playoff picture.
The problem is, not everyone on Cleveland's roster is suited for a "win-now" approach. Anthony Bennett has been downright dreadful as a rookie, and guys like Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee have been big-time busts as well.
Throw in Anderson Varejao's injury history into that equation, and the Cavs would be wise to add another frontcourt player before the deadline.
With Bass, the Cavs would fill a lot of needs. As the first big man off the bench behind Varejao and Tristan Thompson, Bass would be the pick-and-pop option for Kyrie Irving that Bennett was supposed to be, and defensively, he'd give Mike Brown another weapon to utilize against some of the tougher individual assignments in the Eastern Conference (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony) when Luol Deng was out or needed a breather.
Is Bass worth sacrificing a highly protected first-round pick and a chance, however slim it is, to have the cap space to sign a max player in free agency this offseason? No, but he may be worth one or the other. If the Celtics would accept the essentially expiring deals of Clark and Gee and some second-round choices, that could work.
Or, alternatively, if the Cavs are ready to call it quits on Bennett, he could be a trade chip as well. There are a few different options here, so long as the Cavs are interested enough in Bass.
The Washington Wizards are another Eastern Conference team that pushed in the chips when it dealt this year's first-round pick for Marcin Gortat.
While Gortat has been a nice addition next to Nene in the frontcourt, getting some insurance might not be a bad idea, especially given Nene's injury woes.
Bass may seem a little redundant with Trevor Booker already on the roster, but the thought of Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton playing substantial minutes should be motivation enough to make a move. Bass is a very solid role player, and just having someone who has plenty of playoff experience under his belt could help Washington quite a bit.
So long as the Wizards were willing to forfeit future draft picks of some kind, actually packaging the expiring deals of Vesely and Seraphin would likely do the trick. Boston wouldn't feel the need to re-sign or play either guy over its young forwards, and Washington would add a very solid third big man to the rotation who could provide some scoring. Seems like a win-win.
We'll put this one here just because there were rumblings earlier in the season about the Houston Rockets possibly acquiring Bass in exchange for Omer Asik. Here's ESPN.com's Marc Stein from back in December:
"Sources said Houston officials spent much of Wednesday weighing the merits of Boston's offer of forward Brandon Bass, guard Courtney Lee and a future first-round draft pick for the 7-footer from Turkey (...)"
Some things have obviously changed since then, as Lee is now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston's self-imposed deadline with Asik came and went.
Perhaps the talks could be reignited at the trade deadline, although the emergence of Terrence Jones at the power forward spot for Houston probably makes any swap of Bass for Asik obsolete.
It seems as though there are better options for Houston to pursue in an Asik deal, but you never know.
The Charlotte Bobcats have all the makings of a playoff team. They defend well, they have legitimate half-court offensive options in Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, and they are incredibly well coached.
That doesn't mean there isn't any room for improvement, though. With Cody Zeller coming along slowly and not much depth behind Josh McRoberts, adding a capable mid-range shooter and pick-and-pop option to the offense in Bass could really get the Bobcats moving offensively, which is their biggest need.
At 28 years old, Bass is the perfect age for the Bobcats. He's enough of a veteran to have clout and know his role, but he's also young enough to relate to his teammates and be a part of the future in Charlotte.
With the aid of Ben Gordon's expiring contract worth $13.2 million, Charlotte could acquire some talent from a number of teams that are in fire-sale mode. With Bass (and a player like Keith Bogans to even out the salaries), the Bobcats could add a legitimate weapon while not taking on too much of a long-term commitment.
This would need to be much bigger than Bass, but he could certainly be a part of the deal. Let's run with the idea proposed earlier this year by Bleacher Report's very own Jared Zwerling:
In that scenario, according to the source, the Knicks would acquire power forward/center Kris Humphries and small forward Gerald Wallace, while the Celtics would lose two massive salaries for one, Stoudemire, who the Celtics would have to retain only until 2015 (Wallace is through 2016).
If the Knicks balked at Wallace and his long-term deal, like they should, why not swap in Brandon Bass and Bogans instead? Bass could actually help the Knicks in the frontcourt, and his salary would expire at the same time as Andrea Bargnani's and Tyson Chandler's next season.
The Celtics would need draft-pick compensation and possibly a young player like Tim Hardaway, but that might not be much of an issue if it meant clearing $15 million in salary next season for New York.
Since Boston may not have aspirations to obtain or use cap space next year anyway, eating Stoudemire's deal might be worth it depending on the draft-pick haul.
There are a few different ways Boston can approach a Bass trade this year, but again, there probably isn't much of a rush. By all means, Bass should have more value on the trade market next season, but it would be wise for the Knicks and a few other teams to inquire about his services.