In today’s NBA, there are the Warriors, the Cavs, and everyone else. Knowing dynasties do not last more then a couple years, unless you have stud named Tom Brady, I am a believer that teams should be playing for the 2020 NBA Championship, like my Sixers. The C’s have arguably three of the best contracts in basketball in Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder but only Crowder is under team control past 2017/2018. I would love for Danny Ainge to channel his inner Sam Hinkie and ship these players out of town and load up on more draft picks. Since all these players salaries fall below 9 million a year, it would be easy for teams to match salary, and teams would be willing to shell out multiple picks for any of these players. As uncertain as it would be, I love the idea of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Jordan Mickey, Demetrius Jackson, the Nets 2017 and 2018 first rounders, their own 2018 pick, the Grizzlies 2019 pick, and what will hopefully be a Clippers 2019 pick, along with what I believe could be 4-6 more first rounders from the haul pf Thomas, Crowder and Bradley. That being said, we know that Danny Ainge has had his eyes set on a superstar for a while and the scenario I put forward is my NBA 2K thinking, not necessarily what is going to get a GM job security. The following scenario sets up the Celtics to make a run at the Finals this year and next, but Ainge would have to truly believe this is a championship caliber squad to pull the trigger, as it takes away a lot of flexibility moving forward. Many of the trades I have seen involving the Celtics have involved Jae Crowder or Avery Bradley, who teams covet,but I am going to do my best to keep these two team first players on the C’s. (I do not know how these teams value their young role players/D-League players so more smaller parts could potentially be moved. In the Knicks trade, I see Ron Baker, Justin Holiday or another young player being included. These trades also have recent signing restrictions that make it so these have to occur later in the season)
Celtics Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Bulls 2017 Second Round Pick (from Knicks)
Knicks Receive: Amir Johnson, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Nets 2017 Pick (from Celtics) Nets 2018 Pick (from Celtics)
***Carmelo Anthony has a no-trade clause so all this is irrelevant if he wants to stay in NYC. I think that will the recent issues with Phil Jackson, the lack of recent success, having to soon take a backseat to KP and the win-now mode of the Celtics, it would be foolish to not consider going somewhere else.
Why the Celtics do this trade: Carmelo Anthony gives Ainge the star he has lacked since The Big Three left. Horford and Thomas are stars in their own right, but they are not the globally recognized superstar name. Although Anthony hasn’t won much in recent years in the NBA, he still is one of the best USA players of all-time and has to be itching for a title after watching LeBron win his 3rd championship. He would be able to slot in at PF when Horford is at center and move down to SF when Horford is at PF next to their new Center. (More on that in a minute)
Why the Celtics don’t do this trade: This is a big haul for an aging, iso-focused player who does not have a history of making those around him better or playing above average defense. Ainge could have his sights set on DeMarcus Cousins or PG13 and the possibility of getting one of them goes out the door without the two Nets picks. Ainge could realize that they are unlikely to win a championship over the Cavs or Dubs, so stay competitive now and hope those picks turn into future stars.
Why the Knicks do this trade: The future of the Knicks, if not the NBA, Is Kristaps Porzingis. He should be the focal point of the offense and Carmelo’s 20 shots on any given night is taking away from his growth. Melo is not like LeBron making everyone around him better. With the team centerpiece already in place, they do not need to go into a full rebuild, just be able to develop a team around him so when he hits his prime they are competing for championships. Jaylen Brow, Marcus Smart and the two Nets picks give the Knicks what could be 4 key pieces to those championships along with more cap flexibility in bringing either another star or complementary players. Amir Johnson is on an expiring contract.
Why the Knicks don’t do this trade: Phil Jackson does not want to rebuild, he wants to reboot. The Noah and Lee signings this summer were win-now signings even though 1/4 of the way into the season, neither are looking great. Trading Melo would be throwing in the towel on this and next season and the countdown to Noah’s contract expiring would begin. Phil Jackson has an ego and I cannot picture him helping a division rival either.
Celtics Receive: Andrew Bogut
Mavericks Receive: Tyler Zeller, Bulls 2017 second round pick (from Boston), Cavs 2017 second round pick (from Boston), Clippers 2017 second round pick (from Boston)
Why the Celtics do this trade: They get a defensive minded, championship proven center to help push for the 2017 NBA Championship. He will take the pressure off Horford so he doesn’t have to be bruising with all the big men in the NBA night in, night out.
Why the Celtics don’t do this trade: They just recently signed Zeller and could value him at around 8 million a year over the next two years more then what could be a half season rental of an often injured Bogut.
Why the Mavs do this trade: The Mavs are not even competing for a playoff spot this year so they might as well move a player who will more then likely walk after the season for a young big man on a decent contract and three second round picks.
Why the Mavs don’t do this trade: I see two reasons why the Mavs might not take this trade. 1. Mark Cuban feels obligated to keep as competitive of a team as possible on the floor out of respect for Dirk, even if in the back of his head he knows it is not the best move long term. 2. They are offered a first rounder from another playoff bound team to try to get over the hump. Hornets, Jazz and Trailblazers are 3 teams with the flexibility and assets to acquire Bogut to help with their playoff push. If this is the case, the Celtics have the 2019 Clippers and Grizzlies first round picks to dangle.
At the end of the day, the final give and take would be:
Receiving: Carmelo Anthony, Andrw Bogut
Trading: Tyler Zeller, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Amir Johnson, Nets 2017 Pick (from Celtics) Nets 2018 Pick (from Celtics), Bulls 2017 second round pick (from Boston), Cavs 2017 second round pick (from Boston), Clippers 2017 second round pick (from Boston)
From the looks of this, you are giving up 4 players and 5 picks for 2 older players, but we have to assume they will be receiving some lesser players or rights to international players as well. This will rob the Celtics of a good amount of depth and will clear out a solid amount of their young prospects in a win-now attempt. A little reminiscent of the Nets trade that got them all these picks in the first place, but if Danny Ainge is set on going for it now, this definitely gets him a few steps closer. This make not make them favorites over the Cavs, but will make it a much more competitive Eastern Conference Finals. Brad Stevens has proven he can put together a winner and this will only give him more toys to play with.
The Celtics roster following these trades would be roughly as follows:
PG: Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier, Demetrius Jackson
SG: Avery Bradley, James Young
SF: Jae Crowder, Gerald Green
PF: Carmelo Anthony, Jonas Jerebko, Jordan Mickey
C: Al Horford, Andrew Bogut, Kelly Olynk
With two roster spots open, I could see the going after a few potential swingman buyout candidates come later in the season. If they are able to get Bogut without giving up a first, they would still have their own 2018-2020 first round picks and also the Clippers and Grizzlies 2019 first round picks (with restrictions) that they could move for a couple more title run pieces. James Young is a restricted free agent after the season and Jerebko and Green are unrestricted free agents. This would give them a run at the Finals this year, while getting time to gel and then a whole offseason to work together and get a full season to take a run at the title. Danny Ainge would have his fingers crossed that either Steph Curry or Kevin Durant leaves the Warriors next offseason and the Cavs are not able to get enough depth along with LeBron losing a step. I see a 1% chance of this happening, but it could benefit all teams and players involved.
All salaries from hoopshype.com
All draft picks from realgm.com
Image from dead seriousness.com