When the Boston Celtics traded aging pieces from their illustrious past (and Jason Terry) for foundational assets geared towards creating a celebrated future, a range of emotions swept through basketball fans across Massachusetts. On draft night people were filled with a mixture of fury and sadness. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were gone. Two creaky players who, somehow, are still capable of contributing on a winning team.
Then, in the days and even hours after the trade was announced, little seeds of alleviation began to sprout. The Celtics were finally starting over, and they were going about it in the smartest way possible. Three unprotected first round picks from a team that had assumed their own once bleak future? Please and thank you.
But apart from the draft picks, real live players were involved in the deal as well. And so, Boston will look very different next year. On Monday, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and his new head coach, Brad Stevens, sat on a podium to introduce three of the four incoming players who will take the floor in Celtic Green next season.
The three in attendance were Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, and Keith Bogans. The fourth man in the deal is Gerald Wallace, who was busy running a summer camp in Alabama. Humphries, Bogans, and Wallace share 31 years of NBA experience between them, while Brooks is entering his third year as a pro.
Here’s a guide detailing everything you need to know about these four players (Kris Joseph was also included in the deal, but has already been waived), with detailed breakdowns of both their contracts and how each will fit in on the court; hopefully, by the end, we’ll also be one step closer to figuring out what in the holiest of all hells the Boston Celtics will look like in 2014 and beyond.
Contract Analysis: Guaranteed $1.2 million in 2014, followed by a $2.17 team option in 2015, and a $3.2 million qualifying offer the following season.
Brooks is still on his rookie contract, which means he’s extremely cheap. Entering his third season in the league, Brooks is under Boston’s control for the next three seasons at a price tag that won’t force them into a dire luxury tax situation or anything else of financial importance. If he can produce in a relatively significant capacity next season, Brooks could be a legitimate trade asset at some point in the not-so-distant future.
On-Court Fit: When the Nets signed Joe Johnson last summer, it meant Brooks’ minutes would take a devastating hit. And they did. He played over 500 fewer minutes last season than in his rookie campaign, scoring over 300 fewer points.
But his per 36 minute averages across the board were stable, which is good. He entered the league a high volume gunner and saw both his PER and True Shooting percentage increase from year one to year two. More good news, however slight it might be.
On a rebuilding Celtics squad, Brooks can get back to doing what he loves to do: shoot. He’ll most likely serve as a scorer off the bench, someone who jacks 12 shots in 25 minutes. That’s all fine, seeing as it’ll be in Boston’s best interest to be bad next year.
Nothing against Brooks—for all I know he could one day become the type of forceful offensive spark plug all competitive teams crave—but when he shoots a mid-range jumper with 16 seconds on the shot clock before a single pass has been made in a February blowout against the Sacramento Kings, this fan won’t be complaining.
On the defensive end Brooks is nothing short of a liability, and at his worst can be downright clueless. According to SynergySports, his individual opponents averaged 1.08 points per possession on spot up jumpers last season. Synergy tracks defenders who’re simply closest to whomever’s shooting, which doesn’t always make for dependable allocation of blame, but after watching dozens of plays involving Brooks, trust me when I say that 1.08 PPP is very real. And very sad.
Focus on Brooks in these two clips below. In the first he simply isn’t paying attention, and in the other he badly misreads the play, unnecessarily overcommitting and leaving his man wide open from the weakside corner.
Contract Analysis: One-year, $12 million. Why do people think the Boston Celtics are “tanking” next season? (They aren’t, by the way.) Kris Humphries is their highest paid player. That’s why. Thankfully, it’s only one season before that $12 million comes off the books. (If it were any longer, chances are Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce would still be in Boston.)
Based on his play last season, moving Humphries for anything of value—even on an expiring deal—will be problematic unless Rajon Rondo, draft picks, or young players (Olynyk, Sullinger, Bradley, etc.) are attached, and there’s zero reason for the Celtics to be making that type of trade unless a miracle offer from one of the league’s sillier GM’s appears in Ainge’s voice mail. I know Brendan thinks Humphries is as good as gone, but him playing out the year is a very real possibility.
On-Court Fit: Referring back to the previous paragraph where I wrote “Based on his play last season,” Humphries is coming off an unexpected down year. So that’s concerning. He appeared in three more games last year than in 2012, yet played about 1000 fewer minutes with 41 fewer starts.
Humphries’ per 36 minute scoring numbers were lower than his rookie season last year. The market for all teams looking to add $12 million worth of salary, even if it’s on an expiring deal, is thin. If Humphries spends the whole year in Boston, at least they’ll have someone who can set screens and still rebound the ball pretty well. (Despite the decrease in playing time, Humphries’ rebounding rates last year were side by side with his career average. His usage percentage, however, was a career low.)
His pick-and-roll defense isn’t the worst thing of all-time, but thanks to those short arms, Humphries struggles in recovery back to the roll man. Want to incorporate a drinking game into your Celtics viewing parties next season? Chug half a beer every time an opposing forward drains a mid-range jumper square in Kris Humphries’ face. A lot of power forwards can shoot now, and Humphries can’t cover any of them.
Contract Analysis: Last season the Nets paid Keith Bogans $854,389, the veteran’s minimum. This season will be different. If you haven’t already heard: this.
It’s a lot of money, and makes him one of the most overpaid players in the league for 2014. But after next season the two remaining years on Bogans’ contract are non-guaranteed; there’s about a 99.9% chance the Celtics don’t pay a dime after 2014.
On-Court Fit: Long pegged in the 3-and-D role for whatever team that’s paying him, Keith Bogans, at his absolute 33-year-old best, will miss 6.5 (or a bit more) out of every 10 three-pointers he launches and offer individual defense that’s far from “shut down” and barely better than “passable…?” He’s attentive, mostly, but slow. In Brooklyn’s first round series against the Chicago Bulls, Bogans didn’t go above any screens when covering Marco Belinelli on the ball, which, well, if you can’t stick with Marco Belinelli, who can you stick with?
Think of Bogans as an older, less athletic Courtney Lee. Then let a chest full of relief rush from your lungs after remembering that his contract is only guaranteed for one season.
Contract Analysis: Guaranteed $30.1 million over the next three years. What’s that mean?
On-Court Fit: Given his well-documented reckless style of play, what happened to Gerald Wallace last season should not have caught anybody who regularly watches the NBA off guard. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any less depressing.
Wallace’s shooting splits say it all: 39.7/28.2/63.7. You know how Kevin Durant exceeded the hallowed 50/40/90 mark last season? According to science, Gerald Wallace is the exact opposite of Kevin Durant.
(RELATED: Wallace turns 31 in nine days. If you care to adjust your state of mind on the matter from “depressed” to “permanent vegetation,” I wrote this last year.)
The one hope here (if you’re preposterously rooting for the Celtics to actually win games next season) is that Brad Stevens installs an up-tempo offense. Wallace has always been more comfortable in open court chaos than half-court order, and part of his rapid decline last season might’ve been because the Nets were the NBA’s slowest team. Chances are it’s also because Wallace isn’t good at basketball anymore, but here’s to looking at a toxic non-asset with a glass-half-full mentality!
So there you have it. Four dudes who at the end of the day are members of the Boston Celtics because league rules mandate the salaries in a trade like this need to be close. Truth be told, Ainge would’ve gladly traded Pierce, Garnett, and Terry for three unprotected first round picks alone, if he could’ve. But he couldn’t, and that’s why we’re here. The Boston Celtics are set to journey on the bumpiest of roads in 2014. Buckle up.