Good morning everyone, and welcome to “Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks and Gerald Wallace Can Officially Be Traded In Combination With Other Players Day!” It’s a holiday we celebrate, despite the fact that the players who arrived in the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett deal are little more than salary dumps on either end. Still, high-fives all around. It’s a holiday, after all.
Before you hurriedly click away to the ESPN Trade Machine to find the most Celtics-centric deal available (which I already did, by the way, so chill), let’s do a quick rundown of the players, estimating the chances each one gets traded.
Gerald Wallace (15%)
This number will seem high to some and low to others. We’ll begin with the low side: It’s going to be INCREDIBLY difficult for Ainge to rid the Celtics of Wallace’s long, loathsome contract. It’s not really a secret that Wallace had one of the worst seasons of his career, nor is it a secret that his age continues to creep up past 30. Most teams are not run by incompetent idiots, and the ones that would have been conveniently idiotic in years past are either improving (eg. Minnesota and the Los Angeles Clippers), recently rid of Wallace (Brooklyn) or staring in the face of a changing CBA with harsh penalties for contracts like Wallace’s. Danny Ainge almost certainly wants to deal Wallace, which is a shame since he’s such a likable player. What’s more, as is almost always the case in these scenarios, it’s not exactly like it’s HIS fault Brooklyn stuffed $10 million per year into his pockets. But his role in Boston is questionable at best.
Mostly for the above reasons, lots of people believe Wallace will be borderline impossible to move, and I count myself among them. But I also believe Ainge is quick to pick up the phone and call people. There are a few scenarios (Rondo/Wallace for expiring contracts and picks seems both plausible and morbidly depressing) in which Boston might find itself rid of his deal. But Celtics fans should temper their expectations: Ridding the team of Wallace would (and should, if the opposing GM is doing his job properly) come at a hefty price.
Kris Humphries (45%)
Humphries’ contract is massive and it’s expiring. Those two facts combined make Humphries worth…something, at any rate. But here’s Celtics Hub-alum Zach Lowe writing about Caron Butler and expiring contracts a couple of weeks ago for Grantland.com:
[There is a] weak market for expiring contracts. This isn’t necessarily new, either. Teams aren’t dying to give up talented players on long-term contracts for backup types on expiring deals and picks — the model of trade that sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers. […]
[Caron] Butler’s expiring contract is sexy in theory, but not in reality. You might be able to get someone else’s unwanted albatross in exchange — a Gerald Wallace type, for instance — but a rebuilding team like Phoenix has no use for such a player.
First of all, yes, we would all kill for the Celtics to somehow give up Wallace’s contract and receive a fairly useful expiring contract player like Caron Butler in exchange. It won’t happen. Let’s move on.
Even in a weak market, Humphries is considerably more likely to be traded than Gerald Wallace. Although Humphries, like Wallace, had a down year (.448 eFG%, 18.1 TRB% in 2012-13), his numbers could also be explained in part due to a drop in playing time: Humphries played almost exactly 1,000 minutes fewer in 2012-13 than he did in 2011-12. A poor rebounding team next year may remember Humphries’ performance in 2010-11 and 2011-12 when he averaged double digit points and rebounds per game and take a shot. What’s more, Boston has very little reason to hang on to him throughout the season. He likely improves the team a little bit too much, and his on-court brawl with Rajon Rondo — and subsequent passive-aggressive tweet about needing a tetanus shot — have not exactly endeared him with fans of the franchise.
But Humphries may have a lot more value to the Celtics as an expiring contract than he does as a trade chip. I’ve said this before, and I’ll reiterate: With Humphries coming off the books at $12 million and Keith Bogans’ contract becoming fully unguaranteed next summer, the Celtics will potentially be staring at $17 million in cap room. That’s a lot of space, and it could certainly become more with a little bit of finagling. Lots of cap room is only useful if you use it, so be prepared to hear Humphries’ name brought up a LOT in trade discussions this season, but if Boston decides to ride his contract out, the result will present some intriguing options.
Marshon Brooks (50%)
Marshon Brooks is innocuous in this situation, like fat free pretzels. He really isn’t doing any harm (he’s fat free, after all!) and he can be really good at times, but he’s not really bringing anything game-changing to the table either. If someone offers you their Cheez-Its in exchange for pretzels and your soda, you would certainly consider it, but the pretzels aren’t going to be what make or break the decision. It’s all about the soda.
Brooks might bring some nice things to the table, but he isn’t a game-changer. He gets a 50% because Boston is more than likely ambivalent about trading him. If the Blazers wanted Humphries’ expiring and picks for an increasingly unhappy LaMarcus Aldridge next season (NOTE: The Blazers do not want this deal), Boston would be happy to include Brooks to make the salaries work. They would also probably be happy to let him develop and continue looking exactly like Tyler, The Creator.
So in conclusion, none of the new players are, by my estimation (and you are encouraged to leave your own percentages and thoughts in the comments below), likely to be traded. That can be disheartening, since none of them are prominent contributors to the team’s longterm goals. But it’s important to remember that teams are almost always looking to make a deal, and if the Celtics keep the current roster, they are opening up more salary space. If that space is used properly, keeping it open can be an extremely useful endgame.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.