The Celtics are exploring the possibility of trading Ray Allen and his expiring $19 million plus contract to a team in the top five of the draft in order to select Memphis guard Tyreke Evans, according to Chad Ford at ESPN.
I’m moving around today, so I only have time for a quick analysis of each of the deals below. But when thinking about these trades, it’s always important to look past the initial nausea you feel at the thought of giving up Ray Allen for an unproven rookie and a pu pu platter of mediocre players and expiring deals. Here are some things to think about:
1) How good could Tyreke Evans be? There are readers here who know much more about college hoops than I do, but I’ve done my best to read as much as possible about every draft prospect. It’s not surprising that Ainge likes Evans, because Ainge loved Rajon Rondo, and the two players share some similarities. Neither was a good shooter coming out of college, though Evans (a true shooting mark of 53.5 percent second-lowest among the major guard prospects, and a dismal 27.4 percent from three) is better at this stage. Both can rebound and play defense, though Evans is bigger at 6’5″. An optimist would say he has monster potential has a combo guard on both ends of the floor. (For a ton of good info on Evans, see his DraftExpress profile and a great breakdown of the top PGs in the draft from Bret at Hoopinion).
2) How much is Boston saving in ’09-10 salary? Even a few million matters, since the C’s will be paying the luxury tax next season. Every million bucks the C’s save by dealing Allen could be put to use signing players with the various cap exceptions. If the C’s owners have drawn a line in the sand at, say, $80 million, saving $2 million or so by dealing Allen (which is possible given cap rules) gives them $2 million to spend elsewhere.
3) How much are they getting back in expiring deals? In each of the offers below, the C’s are getting at least one decent expiring deal back. Add those to TA and Scal, and you’ve still got at least $10 million in expiring contracts to dangle.
4) Do you believe Ray Allen will have health issues regularly?
5) My favorite, constant question: Who plays shooting guard for the Boston Celtics next year? If you trade Ray, you MUST have a solution in mind. And it would help if that player were actually good. And how much to the C’s have to change their offensive structure without all the plays they run for Allen?
Without further ado, the offers, after the jump:
Ray Allen to Washington for Darius Songalia, Etan Thomas, Mike James and the #5 pick (Evans):
Quick analysis: The Celtics save nothing for 2008-09 in this deal, but they do get more than $14 million in expiring contracts in Thomas and James. (Bad news: Songalia has a $4.8 million player option in 2010-11. Ouch). Still, acquiring two not-awful back-up bigs could free up the C’s to use the mid-level exception on a swing man/Pierce back-up and still leave Boston free to re-sign Big Baby at a reasonable price. Songalia and Thomas aren’t stiffs, and both would be more useful than Mikki Moore was last season. You can win with those guys playing 10 minutes a game.
On the other hand, the Celtics could acquire players at the skill level of Songalia/Thomas using available cap exceptions.
James at first glance is interesting as a high-volume scorer off the bench. He LOVES to shoot, but he’s not very good at it (42 percent career from the floor). He’s a decent three-pointer shooter (38 percent career), but he’s not a distributor–his assist rate is below average for a PG–and he needs the ball in his hands a lot. I wonder how he would mesh with Eddie House and Glen Davis.
Verdict: This is easily the most interesting offer Ford mentions, but I just don’t see how it makes the Celtics a better team next season, and the goal is to win a championship next season.
Offer #2: Ray Allen to the Grizzlies for Marko Jaric, Greg Buckner, Darko Milicic and the #2 pick in the draft (Evans).
The Celtics save no money in 2009-10 but acquire Darko’s $7.54 million expiring deal. Bad news: Jaric will make $7.6 million in 2010-11 and Buckner has a player option for $4.27 million for that season, though both expire after that. Having a few deals expiring after 2011 wouldn’t be a bad thing, considering the looming Rondo extension. Still, the C’s don’t get much financial relief from this trade.
Do I really have to analyze the deal in terms of its basketball impact? It’s a basketball disaster for the Celtics, barring some unexpected Milicic breakout (hi, Joe Dumars!) or a monster rookie season from Evans. I guess Jaric would back-up Rondo, Buckner could be a more dependable/less frustrating version of Tony Allen (though he’s just 6’4”) and Milicic would be a useful back-up big man–again, certainly more useful than Moore.
But the Celtics could just as easily keep Ray Allen (and his expiring deal) and sign players of this quality (or better) using cap exceptions.
The deal makes no sense for Memphis, unless the team is really so strapped that the idea of paying the #2 pick for two seasons is unpalatable. Where does Ray Allen fit in a starting line-up with Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo?
Verdict: Puke. This seems like a non-starter.
Finally, Ford drops one more trade possibility on us, this one involving everyone’s favorite roller-skating point guard with an attitude that must be borderline poisonous (or a jump shot that must be totally incurable) if the C’s are really throwing his name out there this much.
Offer #3: Rajon Rondo the Kings for Jason Thompson OR Spencer Hawes and the #4 pick in the draft. (Caution: It’s important to note, as Jeff Clark at CelticsBlog does today, that Ford’s piece says the Kings want Rondo, not that the Celtics are offering him up).
The Celtics would actually add a little bit to their payroll here (via Evans’ rookie deal), but they’d also acquire an additional expiring contract worth a bit more than $2 million. Of course, this deal leaves them with all of their other expiring contracts to work with going forward and relieves the “burden” of having to extend Rondo for big money.
It’s not indefensible. (Actually, it sort of is). I wouldn’t do it, and I don’t think Boston ever would, but it’s not indefensible. The general ceiling for both Thompson and Hawes is “decent to very good big man a notch–at least–below All-Star level.” I watch the Kings a lot late a night for some reason. Thompson is an athlete who can finish inside, with the usual caveat about young players being out of control and making lots of bad decisions. Hawes is better than you think, and he’s a decent jump-shooter for a seven-footer. But he barely hits half his inside shots, according to 82games.com, and that’s discouraging.
Neither is an elite defender, and neither is likely to become one. But both could be starter-quality big men in their prime.
If you believe Evans could be as good as Rajon Rondo, I can see why you’d at least talk about dealing Rajon for an Evans-Thompson/Hawes combo.
But here’s the thing: Rajon Rondo is already as good as Rajon Rondo, and the Celtics are built to win right now. This deal is a step back in 2009-10 no matter whom the C’s acquire via cap exceptions.