Striking trades with the Boston Celtics isn't going to be easy.
Stones will be kicked and rocks overturned ahead of the NBA's Feb. 20 trade deadline. Every team will do its due diligence, looking for a deal that improves present or future direction. Some will even be looking to push through transactions on a beggar's dime, hoping to make constructive changes at a discount.
But the Celtics offer no bargains.
While making an appearance on The Dennis & Callahan Show, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix brought word that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has set a high price tag on trade assets such as Jeff Green and Avery Bradley.
Here's what Mannix said on the matter, transcription of which comes from WEEI 93.7 FM's Arjuna Ramgopal:
I think at this point, Jeff Green is absolutely on the table for a deal. I think if Boston can find a way to find a way to get either a first-round draft pick or some kind of young piece back that can be better for their future, they would be willing to deal him. The problem is that other teams are seeing what Jeff Green is, and other teams are seeing just how much money Jeff Green is making, and I don’t think they’re willing to deal for him.
I’ve had conversations with a couple of different general managers last night, and we talked a little bit about Boston and what they were trying to do at the trade deadline, and the sense I got from them was that Boston is totally overvaluing some of the players they have. They’re looking for first-round picks in return for guys like Jeff Green or a guy like Avery Bradley and others and they’re just not going to get it.
In his attempt to clear Boston's ledger of long-term salary, Ainge has made Green readily available for the better part of this season. Most recently, the New York Daily News' Mitch Lawrence indicated the Atlanta Hawks had interest:
A first-round draft pick is a lot to give up for Green, who leads the Celtics in scoring but is owed $18.4 million through the next two seasons. His 16.4 points per game are also coming on a career-worst 41.6 percent shooting, and his player efficiency rating (13.7) is noticeably below the league average of 15.
Bradley poses a similar issue.
Though he's earning just over $2.5 million this season, he's due for an extension over the summer. With the cost of what it will take to retain him in restricted agency unclear, teams won't be inclined to fork over a first-rounder for what could be a half-season rental.
There is a greater chance the Celtics net a first-round pick for Bradley, though. He's averaging career highs in minutes (30.4) and points (14.3), and while his shooting percentage is unimpressive (43.4), he's one of the better perimeter defenders at shooting guard.
Of course, if the Celtics are still hot for first-round picks, they always have the option of trading Rajon Rondo. While it's unlikely they move him, Ainge apparently hasn't ruled it out.
"If Danny gets a monster offer for Rondo, I don’t think he’s attached to him in the sense that he’s untraceable [sic]," Mannix said. "But I think it’s going to take a huge, All-Star level Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen type of offer."
One potential option the Celtics do have is moving Rondo in conjunction with Green. The latter's contract is more of a hindrance than an asset at this point. Attaching him to Rondo should net the Celtics a first-rounder and more. They might even be able to move Gerald Wallace's bloated pact in such a deal.
Who are the Celtics more likely to trade?
Given what the Celtics are asking just for Green, a Rondo trade is beyond unlikely. And so is a Green trade. And Bradley trade. Ainge is asking for too much.
"But so far I like watching our team play. I enjoy it," Ainge told The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn of the Celtics. "I enjoy the competitive fire they have, I like that fact there’s some that have maintained the spirit of winning and they prepare to win and continue to prepare to get better."
It seems Ainge enjoys watching the Celtics so much that he's prepared to overvalue just about everyone he has left.
*All salary information obtained via ShamSports