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Trading Ray Allen: More Complicated Than the Trade Machine

 

Let’s get caught up to speed on all the Ray Allen trade rumors. You’ve got Monday’s breaking news report, via Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski, in which Woj reports the C’s have initiated trade talks involving Allen and his $19 million expiring deal.

Which brings us to this Chris Sheridan item on ESPN.com:

Would [the C's and Bulls] be happy with a trade (and we’re merely speculating here) that sent Allen and a minor player to Chicago for Kirk Hinrich, Tyrus Thomas and Jerome James (a 3-for-2 would work, because Boston has left a roster spot open since Lester Hudson was claimed off waivers by Memphis)? Or for Hinrich and Brad Miller?

Sheridan admits he’s speculating here, so I’m not going to evaluate these trades (which I don’t like) other to say there are major questions about whether Ty Thomas can ever be a consistent player on both ends and that Brad Miller isn’t the plus/minus machine he was last season.

On Monday afternoon, Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen addressed the possibility of the C’s trading Allen on WEEI:

Could they trade Ray Allen?

I really don’t think so. Then you’re really having to start over. But maybe they could. Danny Ainge is the one guy who could really do that. He’s the one guy that would take that gamble if he really thinks that’s what needs to be done. And they could trade Ray Allen, because right now in the league, an expiring contract like Ray Allen’s is a big asset.

Thomsen seems a little schizophrenic here, and I think that’s appropriate.

Trading Ray Allen is no small proposition. It’s easy for people to go on the trade machine and construct Allen-centered deals for Monta Ellis, Amare Stoudemire, Andre Iguodala or (get crazy!) Hinrich and John Salmons.

It’s a lot harder to remove Ray Allen from the team. You’re talking about erasing a huge chunk of the playbook and replacing it with…something unknown. A large portion of the C’s offensive sets involve Ray Allen running through screens along the baseline and curling up along the wing or near the elbow. Ray isn’t always option #1 or even option #2 in those sets, but his presence creates options #3, #4 and #5, some of which are built-in parts of the C’s offense and some of which present themselves spontaneously as the defense moves around.

Think about how many times you’ve seen this sequence: Ray cuts from the right corner around two baseline screens, the second of which Perk sets on the left edge of the paint. Ray curls out to the elbow, receives a pass and faces the basket. He has a decent shot, only the big guy defending Perk has jumped out to try and deter that shot, leaving Perk open for a brief window. Allen rifles a quick pass to Perk who either lays the ball in right away or waits for the rotating defender to fly by him before going up for a dunk/lay-in.

That is a mainstay of the C’s offense—and Perk’s offense—and it exists simply because Ray Allen can shoot the ball and thus demands attention wherever he goes. Can you run that action with Iguodala, a career 32 percent three-point shooter with a tendency to shoot too many threes? Or with Monta Ellis, who is used to playing with the ball in his hands?

I submit that you can’t, at least not with the same proficiency. Delete it from the playbook.

And what about Doc’s favorite end-of-game play, the one where Allen sets a screen for Pierce, fades behind the three-point line (and a back screen from a C’s big) and receives a cross-court pass from Pierce for an open three? Can you run that as well with anyone else?

Probably not. Delete it from the playbook—or at least push it to the appendix.

I understand that these are professionals, and that coaches and players should be able to create some new stuff on offense in fairly short order. But is that something you want to be doing with 25 games left before the playoffs? And do you want to do it to a starting line-up that has played the better part of three straight seasons together?

These are tough, tough questions, and they’re just some of the questions that come up when you talk about trading Ray Allen.

That said, this is one of those things that is tough to comment on from outside the team. The team would only trade Ray Allen now if it had come to one conclusion: That it is not good enough to win the title this season. And to get to that conclusion, you need intimate knowledge of KG’s health, of how Ray’s body is feeling and whether wear and age are behind his slump, of whether Rasheed Wallace will be able to offer more in April than he can in February.

I don’t know the answers to those questions. Only team officials are in a position to reach a truly educated conclusion about them. But if those conclusions lean to the negative, they absolutely have a responsibility to field offers and initiate talks. Not long ago, another Boston team traded a beloved but declining player well before the fan base was emotionally prepared to trade that player. After the initial uproar, that team won its first championship in 86 years.

Ray Allen isn’t Nomar, the Celtics aren’t the Red Sox and the economics of the NBA are completely different from those of MLB.

But if the decision-makers believe the Celtics, as presently constructed, can’t win the title, it would be irresponsible not to look at shaking up the team. I mean, what’s the point of having an $85 million payroll centered on two veterans with shaky knees if you’re just going to stand pat with a team you don’t think is good enough to hoist Banner #18?

I don’t know whether the Celtics are good enough to win the title. The recent streak, and the team’s 1-6 record against Orlando and Atlanta, have shaken me. That said, we haven’t seen this team play at full strength for more than a few games this season.

There’s no clear answer to any of these questions.

My prediction: Ray stays and the team lets his deal expire. But I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on it.

  • Jay P

    I don’t see them trading him. I think Ray will be back, they need to cut his minutes, he needs to have fresher legs.

    Reggie Miller had some interesting comments about how he cut down his pre-game rituals later in his career to keep himself fresh going into games. Maybe it’s something Ray will look into, maybe it’ll help.

    Bottom line, unless they get one hell of a deal put out there that they just can’t say no to; Ray isn’t going anywhere. Danny thinks this team is good enough, if healthy, as it is right now. I’m convinced of it. And let’s not underestimate the value that 19 million expiring deal will have for the Celtics next year either who, let’s be honest, need to make something drastic happen this off-season to stay a legitimate team.

  • George

    Is it just me, or are there a general lack of guys who are good at running through screens and executing on a very fundamental level like Ray? The only other guy that comes to mind is Rip Hamilton… I mean, yes every guard can do those things, but who is sort of known for being good at curling off screens, catch & shoot/pass, etc?

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    @George: I think Mike Miller did a nice job of doing that last night, actually. It’s not the running through screens thing that is necessarily unique (though I don’t think there are a TON of guys who do it as relentlessly as Ray), it’s the fact that a) he’s really good at it, and b) because he’s Ray Allen, among the greatest shooters ever, his cuts draw more attention from multiple defenders than most guys draw.

  • Keith

    Trading Ray is certainly a tough call, but Bill Simmons actually just posted an intriguing trade proposal on twitter that really caught my eye…Chicago gets Ray Allen and Eddie House, Sacramento gets Luol Deng, Tony Allen, and Brian Scalabrine, and the C’s get Kevin Martin, Andres Nocioni, and Kirk Hinrich. Some big contracts, to be sure, but I like the idea of a Martin/Rondo backcourt and I love Hinrich as a backup point. Chicago would get cap space for 2010 without losing too much, and Sacramento would get a nice piece in Deng as well as some cap space. I like this better than the Iguodala rumors.

  • tanat-0s

    What about Rip Hamilton, he’s the most similar shooting guard to Ray fundamentaly-wise? Not such a profilic 3pt shooter, but deadly form mid-range. Pistons want to deal him along with Prince, cause they are too old for their youth movement. Prince is a good player too, not starter-caliber anymore due to injuries, but off the bench he would be great in a Posey-like role.

  • Neil

    This is a very thoughtful blog Zach. You make some good arguments. However, the evidence seems to be that this team is not athletic enough to compete and win the title. Ray has a lot of positives but he is just not the shooting threat he used to be. We have also struggled with rebounding this year (I am ready to call the Rasheed experiment a failure– he is just too unfit and can’t hit the side of a barn from 3-point range. Finally, when rondo is not on the floor we have virtually no offense.

    Younger, more athletic teams (Hawks!) run over the top of the C’s on a regular basis. Ironically we seem to match up fairly well against the Lakers and even the Cavs– I’m just not sure we get past the Hawks or Magic.

    Where am I going with this? I love Ray, but your Nomar parallel hits the nail on the head– successful teams need to pull the trigger before stars lose all value. Danny needs to trade Ray to improve the team’s chances this year.

  • Al

    I think everyone is over reacting. Yes, the C’s are getting old. They need to get younger and more athletic in the next year or two or face serious rebuilding. But I haven’t seen one trade that is plausable, especially with so few games left before the playoffs. I believe Ray won’t be traded. I also kind of expect him to resign next season. Realisticaly, he only has a few years left and I could see him easily taking half of what he is earning this year.

    The bigger problem I see with the Celtics is injuries. I believe with everyone healthy they are more than capable of winning the chip. The games they’ve lost recently have been close. And you still have Daniels out. I think if you add a healthy Daniels and an in shape Garnett, Pierce and Wallace they have more than enough.

    The bigger question people are ignoring is who is going to replace Allen as a Starter. Who ever they trade for would have to be a capable starter for a championship eligible team. I don’t have confidence in Hinrich or Martin being able to fit in, especially defensively.

    I say leave things they way they are and I think we’ll have a better idea of where the teams at in the next month or two.

  • mitch

    i say we trade ray allen,scal, and bill walker to the knicks for david lee

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Mitch? You’re sending out almost triple the salary you’re bringing in. You willing to take Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries to start making a match?

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    (and the Knicks aren’t trading David Lee)

  • Jay P

    You can’t replace what Allen brings to this team, even in his slump, as Zach mentioned he is one of the greatest pure shooters in the history of basketball.

    I don’t care what his %s are right now, teams don’t forget who their dealing with, and what his track record is, and they will respect his shot.

    He opens up defenses in ways noone else can, there’s an intrinsic value to having him on the court that just can’t be tracked in his stat line.

    I’m against any trade involving Allen, unless it is just so ridiculous absurd (Lebron for Allen anyone?) that’d it’d be insane to pass up.

  • http://deleted Boston Harbor

    Ray Allen runs throught the screen, and up goes a danm brick.

    It’s time to trade Ray, plain and simple.

  • http://www.celticshub.com Brian Robb

    @ Keith I too, saw the offer that Simmons proposed involving SAC and CHI, and while talent wise it may make sense for all involved, there is no way the C’s do that deal. Why? Because the 3 of those players cost more than 25 million dollars collectively next year. With the C’s payroll at 63 million for just 6 players next year, already there is no way ownership could be expected to take on that kind of money. Adding one of those guys in itself would be asking a lot of ownership.

  • Make a move, Please

    the argument to keep the team together and wait for everyone to be healthy only applies to young teams or teams whose superstar is missing. if you really think that marquis daniels is the guy thats going to help us beat cleveland, atlanta and orlando, i don’t know what team you have been watching this season. it is not even the all-star break and you can see how run down allen and kg are. they are aging vets so i don’t expect them to magically start playing like its 2007 again. ainge needs to desparately inject some youth on the roster and allen’s contract is our only bargaining chip. i don’t see any move that helps them win the championship this year so i believe the only move is to bring in a young guard to pair with rondo and start the overhaul this year. at least they can stay competitive that way. next year is only going to be worse since we are still going to be over the cap after allen, house, scal and tony allen’s contracts are off the books and kg will still be declining. now is the time to hand this team over to rondo and start building a young core.

  • DCP

    I’ve reluctantly come to terms w/ trading Ray but I have no interest in Hinrich – he cant’ shoot and his contract’s brutal. I much prefer Ray + whatever for Igudala and Dalembert. AI can’t shoot the 3 but he does everything else well, particularly Defense. Dalembert is wildly overpaid but also effective rebounder and shot blocker. Plus they can both run. I’m tired of Rondo streaking down the court and then having to pull up and wait for somebody. Rondo and AI for the next five years sound good to me.

    And how about this? Sheed starts and KG comes off the bench? Anyone?

  • Arvin

    Zach, I did not hear anyone talk about letting Ray Allen’s contract expire at the end of the year and picking up a quality free agent for 2010-11. The Celtics could then use his Bird rights and sign Allen for about $5 million a season for 2 years (Allen willing).

    Right now the Celtics are not athletic enough to compete (see the Hawks season sweep) for a title. Injuries have taken their toll on KG, Daniels, and now Pierce.

    We don’t want Hinrich just because of his terrible contract. He would be good at $5 mil not $9 mil/year. Kevin Martin would be nice, but he does not put the C’s over the top. Who could the Celtics bring in for next year with Ray Allen’s expiring deal??

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @Arvin: Two problems: 1) The C’s have about $64M committed to next season even estimating $0 for Ray, meaning they are already over the cap and can’t just sign a free agent if they let Ray’s deal expire; 2) As long as the C’s maintain Ray’s Bird rights, they create what’s called a “cap hold” for about $28M that is sort of a place-holder for Ray until they re-sign for whatever amount they resign him for.

    So, basically, they have zero financial flexibility either way.

  • DCP

    Right, they would have to renounce Ray to eliminate the cap hold, which precludes them from resigning him.

  • hamedgol

    I think we should be open to all the options that are there, did you forget lakers that trade Oneal, the only one they had was kobe and they build the team around him with a bounch of scrobbs, Ray was great but he is not who he was any more and a great team always has to look at all the options to make the team better, you can not hold to your players for ever, at some point you have to say enough is enough, I like Ray very much but if they can improve the team with trading him I think they should do it, and next year they can bring him back as a free agent if they really think he can help the team. I think we need to get younger fast, I don’t think we can wait for couple years to do that.
    Any way I don’t see Allen going any where, and I don’t see Celtics will do much this year either.

  • urbeltic

    While we are at it, let’s trade KG.

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