When you think about the Boston Celtics and the potential trades that could be made before the deadline, Rajon Rondo, understandably, springs to mind first. Jeff Green has managed to stay in the shadow cast by Rondo thus far, but as the deadline draws nearer, it sounds like we'll be hearing Green's name more and more.
According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, Celtics GM Danny Ainge is shopping Green hard before the deadline. The Atlanta Hawks are one noted suitor, but it's highly doubtful they're the only ones.
If the Celtics want to move Green and his three-year deal and continue the rebuilding process, what are some trade packages that would make sense? What teams would be interested in the 27-year-old forward? Let's explore.
The Trade: Boston Celtics trade SF Jeff Green and SG Keith Bogans to the Charlotte Bobcats for SG Ben Gordon, a 2014 first-round draft pick (via Portland) and the right to swap first-round picks in 2016 (top-10 protected).
Why Boston Does It: Cap space and first-round picks. That's what's essential to any real rebuilding project, and it's likely exactly what Danny Ainge is looking for in a trade for Green. By acquiring Gordon's expiring deal worth $13.2 million, the Celtics would get the remaining two years and $19 million of Green's contract off the books completely, freeing up plenty of space for the highly anticipated 2015 offseason.
Although the draft pick via the Portland Trail Blazers will be a late one, it's another chance for Ainge to find a star in the draft or another piece to package for a superstar next to Rondo. In 2016, the Celtics should have a few free agents in tow, so being able to swap picks with Charlotte could be a nice bonus.
Green is a solid forward, but you're in trouble if he's one of your team's best players. Boston should value the cap space and picks much more given the current stage of its rebuilding process.
Why Charlotte Does It: The Bobcats look primed to make the playoffs, but upgrading the starting lineup by replacing either Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Josh McRoberts should be a priority. The Bobcats are 29th in the league in three-pointers made, so adding a good perimeter shooter in Green could help quite a bit.
Charlotte has shown the defensive chops throughout this year, but some offensive firepower is needed. Trading a total non-contributor like Gordon for Green could really help the Bobcats make a playoff push, and the risk might not be as big as it appears thanks to the pick being a late one and Bogans' deal expiring after this season.
Green's salary schedule would also match up perfectly with Al Jefferson's, as both players have player options for the 2015-16 season. If Charlotte is serious about contending now and moving forward, using Gordon's expiring deal to get a proven player makes sense.
Why Boston Does It: Again, it makes sense for the Celtics to target potential playoff teams with expiring deals, as those teams will have the most incentive to buy. That's particularly true for the Detroit Pistons, as they came into the season with high expectations but have sputtered horribly.
Acquiring Villanueva's expiring deal would help clear plenty of cap space for this offseason as well as next year's, and banking on Detroit to be a team that finishes in the middle of the pack in a few seasons seems like an awfully good idea at this juncture. While you'd like to get a pick that would be conveyed earlier, this would be a fantastic trade piece to have.
Why Detroit Does It: This would be a bit of a desperation move for the Pistons, but it's certainly a big talent upgrade. Green has shown plenty of versatility this year in Boston by playing three positions, and that's something he'd likely be asked to do in Detroit to mix and match with their frontcourt trio. Green's perimeter-oriented game would help space the floor, and it could lessen the blow of losing or having to deal Greg Monroe at some point.
Trading a future pick isn't ideal, but this might be Pistons GM Joe Dumars' last chance to earn a new contract. This is one of the few types of trades that is an undeniable add of talent, which is something that probably can't be accomplished by making a bigger deal for Monroe or Josh Smith. Green isn't exactly what the Pistons need, but he's a good enough player to fill more than a few holes.
Why Boston Does It: There's a good chance that Boston is more focused on the 2015 offseason than this year's, and if that's true, that will allow the Celtics to take on players who will expire after next season instead of after this season. Landry Fields is one of those players, and taking him on for a year may not be too big of a deal so long as it nets Ainge a valuable first-round pick.
Bogans and Salmons basically cancel each other out, as both are essentially expiring deals. It may be tough for Ainge to get a great deal out of Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, but getting the first-round pick from either Denver or New York looks awfully good as of right now.
Why Toronto Does It: The Raptors legitimately look like the Eastern Conference's third-best team, so maybe it's time to buy and hope for the best in regards to injuries elsewhere. Perhaps Ujiri will view that 2016 pick as house money, as he never should have received it for Andrea Bargnani in the first place.
By basically replacing Fields with Green, the Raptors would add a nice scorer in advance of a playoff run. There would be some concerns that this would be Rudy Gay part two, but Green's contract is much smaller, and there's always the chance he opts out in that final year to secure long-term money in free agency. Adding length on the wing before going up against Miami or Indiana seems like a good idea.
It's very risky, but Ujiri is skilled at flipping long-term contracts if it doesn't work out. The pick would likely be the biggest holdup here.
Why Boston Does It: The main appeal to trading for Okafor's big expiring deal is that 80 percent of the remainder of his contract will be covered by insurance. That means the Celtics would be in line for massive salary savings by making this deal, both for this year and moving forward.
The first-round pick should be one that lands in the late teens, where there should still be plenty of value in what looks like a pretty deep draft class. Trading for a player that can't actually play is a total tank move, but it's hard to argue that it's the wrong decision given how much of Boston's future depends on where its draft pick falls this year.
Why Phoenix Does It: Suns GM Ryan McDonough came from Boston's front office, so there's plenty of familiarity there. McDonough has gone on record about wanting to package his many picks for established talent, as he told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com earlier this year.
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.
With the Suns firmly in the playoff picture and Green available, perhaps using one of those picks to acquire Green would work. Green should be able to thrive in an uptempo, three-point happy system, so this might be a good fit at relatively cheap price.
The Trade: Boston Celtics trade SF Jeff Green to the Atlanta Hawks for SF Demarre Carroll and SG Lou Williams.
Truth be told, I don't like this deal for either team. I don't see how either team walks away happy, as Boston will almost certainly want a pick for Green, and Atlanta should be very hesitant to give one up at this point.
Even if Atlanta did offer up its pick swap with Brooklyn in 2015, the Hawks probably aren't thrilled about taking on long-term salary after Danny Ferry worked so hard to clear the books. Green just isn't enough of an impact player to justify that, especially since Carroll has played very well and Williams isn't anywhere near his peak trade value yet.
It's interesting that Atlanta is being rumored as the primary suitor for Green, and I would be very surprised to see a deal take place given what both teams have done in the past. It just doesn't seem like a good fit for either team, both in terms of talent and assets.