It appears the Celtics are not going to pull off a trade for Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Instead, the Wizards are on the verge of dealing Butler to Dallas in a separate trade that will look like this, according to ESPN.com:
Dallas receives: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson
Washington receives: Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Expiring Contract Filler
On the one hand, it’s easy to see why Washington prefers this Butler deal to the offer the C’s made for Butler and Jamison (Ray Allen, J.R. Giddens and Brian Scalabrine). The Celtics were offering cap relief in the form of expiring deals. The Wizards get the same cap relief if they want it, but they also have the option of picking up Josh Howard for next season at a salary of $11.8 million, according to ShamSports.com. It seems like Howard’s still young, but he’s not; he’s 29. But even so, he’s five years younger than Ray Allen and just two years removed from an All-Star season during which he appeared on the verge of developing into a stud swing man.
The Celtics don’t have comparable talent to offer.
But they had something else: The ability and (possibly) the willingness to take on both Butler and Jamison.
That raises a question: What happens to Jamison now?
I assumed at first that the C’s would remove themselves from any Jamison talks once the Mavericks close this trade for Butler. The C’s and Wizards could still build a deal centered around Jamison and Allen; a package of Jamison and Mike James, for instance, works in terms of salary. But that deal isn’t worth it for Boston, even if you evaluate it based solely on this season and ignore the fact that Jamison has more than $28 million coming to him over the next two years. Trading one aging former All-Star for another aging former All-Star is (at best) like running in place. The idea of the Butler/Jamison deal was to use Allen’s bloated salary to nab two former All-Stars.
Ah, but Adrian Wojnarowski, who broke the original C’s-Wiz story this morning at Yahoo!, is reporting that the Celtics are still discussing a deal for Jamison.
This, frankly, surprises me, unless the C’s could pry another asset from the Wizards in exchange for taking Jamison. Trading Allen (and change) for Jamison (and change) amounts to rewriting the playbook in February, creating a gaping hole at the two guard spot and taking on $28 million in added salary over the next two seasons. I don’t see the incentive—unless Washington ends up offering some sweetener.
What that sweetener would be, I don’t know. Randy Foye? Eh. A first-round pick? I can’t see the Wizards surrendering one, even for the privilege of foisting Jamison’s deal on Boston.
But the C’s might be in a position of strength here. The market for Jamison is limited. Cleveland is the only other team reported to have expressed any serious interest in Jamison, but Cleveland, as of this very moment, seems to have turned a decent chunk of its attention to at least talking to Phoenix about Amare Stoudemire, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer (via ESPN.com).
Let’s ignore for a second how terrifying a LeBron-Stoudemire scoring combination could be for Cleveland. That screen/roll would be frightening. If Washington loses Cleveland as a potential market for Jamison, they may get more desperate to deal him.
In any case, the next five days are going to be interesting.