The NBA Trade Deadline is just a week from tomorrow. It also marks the 1 year anniversary (on the NBA calender) of the miserable Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder deal. I'm still not over it. In my defense, I HATED it at the time and even spent 5 hours on 98.5 The Sports Hub that night explaining how bad the move was and that Danny was hinging his playoff hopes (the team was atop the East at the time) on two injured, old centers named O'Neal. At least Jeff Green fit in well.
But anyway, the Celtics (20-17) have just 29 games left to play in this shorten 66 game regular season. And after a slow start and multiple losing streaks, they find themselves playing for 1st place in the Atlantic Division against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight and an automatic Top 4 Seed (avoid Miami and Chicago in Round 1!) in the Eastern Conference. The C's are currently on a 5 game winning streak (Cavs, Bucks, Nets, Knicks, Rockets). But with their future very much in question, what should they do?
Many of the trade rumors that have circulated around the league involve the Big 4, rightly so. Kevin Garnett ($21.2 million) and Ray Allen ($10 million) are unrestricted free agents after this season. While Paul Pierce (2 years remaining, avg. $16 million per year) and Rajon Rondo (3 years remaining, avg. $12 per year) are not only under contract going forward, but are both playing at a very high level. In fact, to be fair, KG and Allen are also playing at a much higher than anticipated level this season, particularly in Garnett's case, as of late (18.8 points, 10.2 rebounds during 5 game-winning streak.)
Because of this sudden winning streak and the newly found rotation Doc Rivers has stuck to (aided by the Jermaine O'Neal injury), the idea of keeping this group together and making one final run has begun to emerge, amongst some. Can they beat the Bulls in a 7 game series? What about the Heat? The thought that they could miss the playoffs with this group is ridiculous. Not only based on their own abilities, but more so the rest of the Conference. They WILL make the playoffs, but how far can they go?
If the Celtics want to make moves AND not go into full fledged re-building mode they have to keep Rajon Rondo. I repeat, KEEP RAJON RONDO. He's a bargain for an All-Star and is a Top 5 Point Guard in the NBA. Do you need more around him? Of course. Can he win a title as the best player? No. But how many guys can?
I keep Pierce as well, unless a 3-team deal comes along involving one contender (who else would want Pierce) or the right team steps up and the C's get young players/picks. Now is the time to deal Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, but you can't give them away.
Hired guns. Assassins. Mercenaries. Ok, rentals. That's what Ray and KG would be for teams with their eyes on the Larry O'Brien Trophy. So after that long winded open, here are 3 Celtics trades that (probably) won't happen:
1. Ray Allen to the Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, future #1 draft pick.
There would have to be other filler in their to make the deal go through, but the Clippers desperately need a 2 guard. Billups is out for the year, Mo Williams is a PG, and Randy Foye just isn't good. Youngster Eric Bledsoe has played in just 11 games this year and doesn't see the court much. He is a good piece though for either the C's to build around and or deal themselves.
2. Paul Pierce & Ray Allen to the Grizzlies for Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, Josh Selby, and two future #1 picks.
For some reason the Rudy Gay-Zach Randolph combo has not netted a lot of success. Memphis is good with 1 and not the other. They could make a serious run at it this year with a core of Gasol-Randolph-Pierce-Allen-Conley with T.A, Speights, and Cunningham. Meanwhile the C's get younger and enter the Rondo-Gay era. With Pierce and Allen gone, they would have to do this as well.
3. Kevin Garnett & BOS 1st round pick to the Hawks/ Josh Smith, Kirk Hinrich, & Avery Bradley to the Warriors/ Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, GS & ATL 2nd round picks to the Celtics.
Lot going on there. IF the C's pull off trades 2 and 3 they are looking at squad of Rondo-Ellis-Gay-Bass-Biedrins with Mayo, Selby, and for the rest of this year Wilcox, Pietrus, Stiemsma, Johnson.
Yeah I know. It's not great. It would be exciting to watch Rondo play in an uptempo style with Ellis and Gay on the wing.
These deals (probably) won't happen, but with all the crazy rumors flying around now and for the next week, I got to throw a couple more out there. All I know is that whatever Danny does, it won't surprise me as much as Perkins & Nate for Green & Krstic. Can't wait to see what happens.