Best Potential Boston Celtics Trade Targets During 2014 NBA Draft
On draft day last summer—though the trade was officially announced on July 12, 2013—Boston sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets for a package of players and picks, somewhat shocking the NBA world.
Since then, Boston put out a forgettable 25-57 season and is looking for a quick-fix, one-year turnaround. Those types of transitions are incredibly difficult and risky to pull of, but general manager Danny Ainge is on the lookout, which makes the upcoming draft intriguing in more ways than one.
For starters, the Celtics hold pick Nos. 6 and 17. However, when you consider the future selections they also have in the bag, their ability to make attractive packages increases exponentially.
Should they use either those 2014 picks, or any of the future ones, Ainge will likely be targeting a specific group of teams and players. Let's take a look at what that may entail.
Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
With the Detroit Pistons stuck on the outside of this draft looking in, having no 2014 first-round pick, they will certainly be worth a phone call when it comes to any draft-day trades.
Add to that the fact that the Pistons are under new management with head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower, and they will definitely be on Ainge’s speed dial list. The new leadership will have its own ideas about Detroit’s makeup, and those ideas may include thinning out the the team's frontcourt by moving Greg Monroe.
Monroe is a restricted free agent this summer and stands to earn a substantial raise, one that could be in the neighborhood of a max contract. He is a young big man who can play center and has 20-10 potential, but the Pistons are invested in Andre Drummond and Josh Smith.
If the Celtics can tailor a package that would help Detroit thin out the ranks under the basket and add a wing piece like Jeff Green while getting back into the first round, they have a chance to make another big trade on draft day.
Jason Thompson and Ben McLemore, Sacramento Kings
Remember the rumors that were swirling about Ben McLemore being the possible centerpiece of a package to trade for Rajon Rondo?
Those days are long gone after McLemore’s inefficient rookie season. He struggled all year to shoot himself out of an awful early-season slump, finishing with 8.8 points in 26.7 minutes per game on a cringe-worthy 37.6 percent shooting.
He improved later in the year, but it still wasn’t the rookie season many were hoping for.
Boston should still be interested though. It was predicted that McLemore would struggle with transitioning into the NBA lifestyle, but those college numbers are still there and are a reminder of what he can do. McLemore shot 50.7 percent from the field at Kansas, and that shouldn’t be forgotten.
If the Celtics can build a package around bringing McLemore and steady 6’11” Jason Thompson to Boston, it would be a nice option. McLemore may still be better than the shooting guard options in June’s draft, and that is going to be a necessity whether Avery Bradley returns or not.
Thompson is a work horse with legitimate size and strength. He has missed just two games the last three years combined. While he isn’t the defensive stud rim-protector Boston craves, Thompson is a nice fill-in with the ability to play center.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves
However unlikely this deal may be, the swirling talks and sheer number of assets the Boston Celtics have makes it a must-mention.
Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders is vehemently against dealing Love at this juncture, though a lot of factors still point to it as something that may have to happen. He is also vehemently against the Boston Celtics and is not a fan of their fanbase, per Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.
Still, Love reiterated his frustrations on ESPN's Sports Nation (via ESPN.com) with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ inability to make the postseason. His visit to Boston a couple weekends ago only stoked the fire that is burning about his potential trade from Minnesota.
The key is for Ainge to make these specific calls on draft day. If Saunders is going to make a move with Love, draft day is a point where he might be at his weakest.
He’ll have a ton going on, with Minnesota holding four picks in the 2014 draft. Also, all those assets the Celtics have look a lot prettier when their potential is matched up with faces. A No. 6 pick is a No. 6 pick, but if there is a player immediately associated with it, things change and Saunders may be more willing to pull the trigger.
Omer Asik, Houston Rockets
There is nothing the Houston Rockets need more right now than inexpensive assets.
There is nothing the Boston Celtics have more of right now than inexpensive assets.
There could definitely be the roots of a draft-day trade growing between Houston and Boston. Omer Asik has been mentioned in Celtics whispers for quite some time, and with a pay day for Chandler Parsons coming up, the Rockets could stand to free up some capital.
The best way to do that may be sending Asik to the Northeast in exchange for a pick or two, which would come to a fair amount less in immediate money. The Celtics are also owners of a $10.28 million trade exception from Pierce that expired on July 12.
Asik gives the Celtics that rim-protecting defender and physical rebounder that they have been searching for and won’t be able to get in the draft. Whether he is paired with Love or Jared Sullinger, Boston’s frontcourt is looking a lot better.
Houston alleviates the concern of an unhappy Asik potentially undermining its locker room, frees up space to offer Parsons an extension and opens up opportunities in either this draft or a future one to work some Daryl Morey magic.
Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks
A year ago, the Boston Celtics were mere inches from acquiring DeAndre Jordan from the Los Angeles Clippers. At the time, it was viewed as a questionable addition. However, after one year of play, the Celtics would have gotten a steal if the trade was Kevin Garnett for Jordan one-for-one.
Of course, the NBA may have negated the deal, just as it put a moratorium on Boston-Los Angeles Clippers trades after Doc Rivers went there. Either way, the rim-protecting defender Celtics fans keep craving could have been here in Jordan.
There aren’t many places across the NBA were you will find one available, and the 2014 draft class isn’t teeming with possibilities, either.
That brings up Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks. Sanders is in Milwaukee's doghouse after missing most of 2013-14 with a pair of injuries. He played in only 23 games in the season before his healthy extension kicks in.
Starting in 2014-15, Sanders will make $11 million a year for four seasons. There is considerable risk, especially after one injury was the result of a bar fight. In addition, he was suspended five games by the league for violating its drug policy.
All of those are reasons for Boston to have pause, but they are also reasons as to why the Bucks may be willing to part ways with a potentially freakish, 25-year-old talent.
Jordan slipped away from the Celtics when they didn’t really know what they would be getting. Is Sanders’ situation similar, and should the Celtics be willing to take the risk this time around?