Given the rampant trade speculation in the past couple weeks, it was a relieving sight in the Herald to see a Celtics team official denying the team would trade Rondo. The entire situation has caused me to try to wrap my head what Danny Ainge is facing when entering any kind of trade negotiations this offseason. There haven all kinds of rumors and speculation regarding names like Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and even Kendrick Perkins being brought up in potential deals.
As Zach Lowe reported this morning Danny Ainge denied the likelihood of any of these deals taking place, but acknowledged the possibility the C’s could still make a deal. I decided to breakdown potential scenarios Ainge would be facing entering any of these deals.
The first thing all Celtics fans must understand when looking at the roster, is that the Celtics have no legitimate signed assets outside of the starting five. Even diehard C’s fans wouldn’t admit these guys had any significant value to other teams around the league.
In my estimation, that means Danny Ainge was FORCED to bring up names like Rondo, Allen and Perkins in trade talks, in order to just get the dialogue started. You can imagine how a trade discussion would with Danny would go without Danny acknowledging he was at least “considering” to deal a member of his starting five.
Danny Ainge: Hey, we are looking to upgrade our bench at the PG, SF and big man spots, or maybe move up in the draft.
NBA GM: Sounds good. What do you guys have to offer?
Danny Ainge: Well we want to keep our starting five intact so pretty much anyone on our bench is available.
NBA GM: I see….and are you willing to take back any bad contracts?
Danny Ainge: No, we really can’t afford to take on any overpaid players, we are over the luxury tax enough as it is.
NBA GM: Ok then. Remind me who is on your bench again.
Danny Ainge: Well we have Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine’s expiring contracts as well as Bill Walker, Gabe Pruitt, J.R. Gidd……
Danny: Hello? Damn it, not again!
Clearly that’s an shortened version of what a negotiation would sound like, but you get the idea. The Celtics quite simply have NO signed assets on their bench. No one any other team would look at and think “Hey, they’d likely be a contributing member of our rotation.” or “Sure, that’s someone we’d be interested in dealing for” unless they got rid of some dead weight themselves in the deal from their roster.
Therefore, if Danny even wants to keep these other GM’s on the phone, he has to at least acknowledge the possibility he’s willing to part with one of his starting five even if he has no strong intentions of dealing them. Once Danny floats out those bigger names in trade talks, the other teams are forced to listen and stay on the line. Once Ainge has their attention in my estimation, there are two ways Danny could make a deal.
1) A team bowls over the C’s with an offer for one of the an aforementioned players, (Rondo, Perk, Allen) that still allows the team to be a contender for next year and Danny would be foolish to turn down.
Chances of Happening: Slim/None
2) Over the course of trade talks, Danny turns down any deal involving the starting five, but during these talks manages to convince an opposing GM that a player like Tony Allen or Bill Walker could be a good “fit” on their roster and gets back a draft pick (think early 2nd round) and/or another insignificant but potentially serviceable player. Given TA’s injury woes and the Celtics’ young bench players lack of floor time, convincing any team to bite on a deal involving them that still makes sense for the Celtics financially is a long shot. You never know though if Chris Wallace is involved.
Chances of Happening: Slim/None
So there you have it. Those are the only ways I see the Celtics making any deals involving their own guys this offseason. Danny has been a very active GM in his career as far as trades go, so it only makes sense he explores the possibilities. Ainge attempted to stand pat last year and the lack of a deep and balanced bench became magnified with the team’s injury woes. The team’s weakness was exposed.
Ainge won’t let that happen again. My guess though is he will address it in free agency and by purchasing/trading for a draft pick or two in the late 1st round/2nd round.
As the Celtics stand right now, there is no reason to tinker with the foundation in my view. Not when you have Ray Allen coming off one of his best shooting seasons of his career. Not when you have your two youngest starters taking giant step forwards in their production last year. And especially not when you have a motivated KG returning to a lineup he has shown great chemistry with.
This morning in the Herald, Ainge was quoted as saying, “We’re trying to win a championship next season. That’s my goal this summer.” I believe that the Celtics brass feels they have the best chance of doing that with their starting five remaining intact, turning a blind eye to the future for the time being.
The Celtics will make moves this offseason. They just won’t involve the starting five.