The funnest thing about a team that’s lost four of five games is dragging out the Trade Machine to save the day. Fittingly, the comments in the wake of the last two losses were peppered with trades for the likes of Andrea Bargnani, Marcus Camby, and (inevitably) Dwight Howard. But most of the trades have been…pretty disappointing, from a reality standpoint. With the exception of one that had the Celtics giving up Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and ending up with Howard and LeBron James, I was mostly uninspired by them.
For the future, here are a few frequent Trade Machine pitfalls to avoid.
1. Pretending “Jermaine O’Neal, Keyon Dooling, Sasha Pavlovic, and Avery Bradley” is a trade package.
This is probably the most common ridiculous trade type we’re seeing lately, because it allows the trader to get rid of four players nobody cares about by operating under the assumptions that four players is always better than one. This is very false. No team wants any of these players individually; why would they want all four of them at the same time?
Each of those guys can potentially be thrown in to a trade to make salaries work, or because Pavlovic and Bradley are best friends and have a together-forever clause in their contracts. Otherwise, in the words of an eighth grader performing with his band in a school talent show in 1994: “You gotta keep ’em separated.”
2. Trading Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, or Kevin Garnett to lottery teams.
Imagine being Danny Ainge. You already do, so keep doing it. Mavs GM Donnie Nelson calls you up and is all, “Dan-naaaay! Heard you guys were thinking about rebuilding. How about J-Kidd for Rondo?” You can hear the gum smacking around in his mouth. How does that make you feel? It doesn’t make you feel good, does it?
That’s exactly what you’re doing when you offer Ray Allen for Andrea Bargnani, except worse. If the Celtics rebuild, they want to go younger. That’s why they’d be getting rid of Pierce, Allen, or Garnett in the first place. Rebuilding teams do not want old players. Especially not in exchange for their best player, as is very frequently suggested.
3. Trading for Dwight Howard.
Rajon Rondo is the only Boston player who the Magic would possibly accept in a Dwight Howard deal (and probably not even him). Dwight would only come to Boston if Rondo were there. By trying to trade for Dwight Howard, you potentially create a timespace-rending paradox. Don’t do it.
All three of those guidelines fall under this giant Umbrella Guideline: Just because the Trade Machine calls your trade “Successful!” does not mean an opposing GM saw it and signed off on it. I’m honestly not sure if some people are aware of that sometimes.
But the Trade Machine is still a valuable resource! There are plenty of options out there! You can trade Rajon Rondo for anyone except about 15 players. You can trade any of the Big Three to a competitive team that needs one more piece to get over the top. Or you can trade some of the Celtics’ younger assets (Bass, JaJuan Johnson, Moore or Bradley to a very limited extent) for some positional help from mid-level players.
Danny Ainge announced today that the Celtics are “not a team that we feel like is a contending team” and he’s always thinking about different moves to get better. The Trade Machine is more relevant now than ever before. Please take care of it.