Boston Celtics' Best and Worst Trade Assets Heading into 2014 Offseason
The Boston Celtics are due for a roster makeover this summer after a lackluster 25-win effort during the 2013-14 season. Back in March, Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck told Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe that “there could be some fireworks” this June as the team’s front office tries to take another step forward in its rebuilding plan.
In order for there to be any kind of fireworks, though, a team must have pieces it is willing to move in a deal. Boston heads into this offseason with a roster that likely has no untouchable parts. Everyone is available (at the right price), a source told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, and there are some players general manager Danny Ainge would love to clear off his roster for salary-cap or performance reasons.
So who exactly are Boston’s best and worst trade assets this offseason? Let’s take a look at the players the Celtics have under contract on both sides of the coin.
Best: Kelly Olynyk
After an injury-riddled first half of his rookie campaign, Olynyk finished strong down the stretch, averaging 11.7 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 22.0 minutes per game after the All-Star break.
The seven-footer was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team thanks to this impressive finish and still carries plenty of potential on the offensive end of the floor despite his advanced age for a first-year player (23).
More importantly, he’s under contract for the next three seasons on an affordable rookie deal, making him a cheap, young part to add to any team’s roster.
Best: Jared Sullinger
The power forward bounced back in a big way during his second NBA season after back surgery brought his 2012-13 campaign to a premature end. Despite facing questions from critics about his ability to stay on the floor following his back troubles, the former Ohio State star looked durable in his second NBA season, playing 74 out of a possible 82 games.
Sullinger was one of the few bright spots on the Celtics for much of the campaign, averaging nearly a double-double per game with 13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.
His shooting numbers (42.7 field-goal percentage) weren’t impressive, but that was largely due to the development of a three-point shot that brought down his overall shooting numbers. However, his range will be an asset long term if he keeps improving it.
At just 22 years old, Sullinger is signed under a bargain rookie-scale contract for the next two seasons. That age and his promising growth on the floor make the undersized power forward (6'9", 260 lbs) Boston’s most attractive young trade asset.
Best: Rajon Rondo
Ainge’s first choice this offseason will likely be to give Rajon Rondo some veteran help on the roster. If no deals are out there to be made in that department, Ainge could decide to turn his team’s captain into Boston's best trade asset. The point guard only has one year remaining on his contract but remains underpaid at $12.9 million for the 2014-15 season.
Rondo has already voiced that he's intrigued by the possibility of exploring free agency next summer, but any team dealing for the 28-year-old will have the advantage of being able to offer Rondo the most money in his next contract, according to Larry Coon's CBA FAQ.
If Ainge elects to go young with the rebuild, Rondo would certainly be available for any suitor with the right combination of picks and young players. Ainge’s demands will be high, though, so even if Rondo becomes available, there’s no guarantee he will be moved.
Worst: Gerald Wallace
The small forward currently holds the title as Boston’s worst trade asset, but the team’s willingness to take on his horrendous deal was a major reason why Boston was able to acquire a treasure chest of first-round picks last summer from the Brooklyn Nets.
For that reason alone, Boston fans should not hold much ill will against the veteran, who was a good solider for head coach Brad Stevens last year.
Despite being a positive presence in the locker room, Wallace is still one of the most overpaid players in the league. He’ll earn $10.1 million over each of the next two seasons despite averaging a mere 5.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last season.
Wallace’s trade value was damaged further after he underwent season-ending surgery on his left knee and ankle in March.
The team can rid itself of Wallace's contract, but it will come at the cost of giving up some of its own trade assets or taking on another bloated deal in return for the veteran.
Worst: Jeff Green
Ainge has been high on Green’s potential ever since dealing for the small forward back in February of 2011. Three years later, Ainge’s patience for that potential to fully develop would seem to be running low, following another inconsistent season from Green.
After shooting a career-low 41.9 percent from the field last year as a 27-year-old, league sources told Bleacher Report that Green doesn’t hold much value to teams around the league as an overpaid role player that will earn $9.2 million next year.
A player option for 2015-16 at the same number means any team that trades for Green would risk overpaying him for another two seasons, not just one. This reality makes the odds of Boston garnering a decent return for the small forward in any trade slim at best.
Worst: Joel Anthony
The Miami Heat sent the Boston Celtics some future draft picks to entice Ainge to take on the limited big man and his $3.8 million salary back in January in a three-team trade. According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com, Anthony plans on exercising his player option next season for $3.8 million in what will also end up being the final year of his contract.
Anthony is a nonfactor on the offensive end of the floor, averaging 0.8 points per game over 33 contests last season. At age 31, the center would be lucky to secure anything more than a veteran’s minimum deal with any team around the league during the tail end of his career.
The Celtics will have to wait for Anthony’s deal to run out this year before moving on from the center, or they could use him as salary filler in another larger trade package.