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Is Avery Bradley Going To Be Traded?

Avery Bradley is a restricted free agent this summer but he might not make it to July as a member of the Celtics. That’s reasonable speculation considering this report from Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report:

A source said the Celtics are “going to make a lot of moves in the next year.” While the source said Courtney Lee, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries are on the market, the team’s biggest personnel question this season revolves around Avery Bradley, who they feel is their starting shooting guard for the future.

In fact, that’s why, according to a source, the Celtics offered him a four-year, $24 million deal (with a team option on the fourth year) this past offseason, but he turned it down. That’s because he wants at least $8 million per year, which another source confirmed. Bradley will be a restricted free agent next summer, so things could get “tricky,” as one source said, for the Celtics to keep him.

It’s easy to believe the C’s want Bradley as their starting SG in the future but just as plausible they would balk at paying him $8M per season and decide to offload him before they have to deal with a competing offer sheet from another team. That’s what happened with Kendrick Perkins when Danny Ainge realized Perk was pricing his production out of what Boston considered reasonable compensation.

So, let’s unpack this a little bit.

The Celtics have long valued Bradley’s defensive contributions. Before his reputation as an elite defensive player was cemented league-wide (roughly around the time he started torturing Jameer Nelson) Boston regarded Bradley as a difference maker. The Celtics are notorious for overvaluing their own players but with Bradley, the confidence proved warranted when his injection into the 2012 starting lineup was a key catalyst for the Celtics making a run to the Eastern Conference Finals. And, of course, Bradley made the All-Defensive 2nd Team last year for the first time at age 22 (he turned 23 last month).

Of course, his offensive game collapsed last year. Pressed into point guard duty and without Rajon Rondo to feed him the ball for most of the season, Bradley fell far below replacement level on offense. As Michael noted back in August, when he considered the possibility of Boston extending Bradley before the season:

His PER was an atrocious 6.7 in that [New York] series, and an even more depressing 8.8 in 50 starts during the 2012-13 regular season, when he shot 40.2% from the floor, dribbling the ball, attempting layups in traffic, and entering passes into the post like his wrists were shot with a dangerous amount of Novocain.

No matter how dominant he is on defense, guards can’t do what he did on offense last year and be on the floor for 35 minutes for a successful team.

The good news is Bradley’s offense has rebounded this season. He’s more effective using picks and off the dribble, and shooting traditionally inefficient mid-range jumpers at a high rate. His three-point shooting is climbing back up towards the 40.7% career high he registered in 2011-12 (he’s at 38.1% on the season). He’s also doing it without the benefit of Rajon Rondo. When was the last time you saw him streak across the baseline for an easy layup? The bad news is with a 12.04 PER, he remains no better than mediocre on offense. Which means at least half of his game is entirely replaceable.

There are ways to spin the numbers in a positive light. Bradley’s finally healthy. He’s still young. He’s on an upward trajectory. He’ll be even more productive with Rondo back. All could be true. But would you bet $32-34M over 4 guaranteed years on it? Would Boston?

There’s a lesson here from the Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass signings. Lee’s been a marginal contributor who hasn’t managed to find a consistent role. Bass has been, at times, very good, carving out an identity as a plus-defender at two positions and providing floor spacing with his mid-range shooting.

But if Ainge can find a market for them they’re both likely to be moved by the summer because they’ve hit their ceilings. And both can be replaced by younger, cheaper players. They’re role players.

There’s nothing wrong with role players. In the right context (James Posey — 2008) they’re gold. But committing big money to them — and Bradley at $8M per would be exactly that — is a trap. Ainge didn’t do it with Posey. He didn’t do it with Perk. And in both cases the Celtics came out better as a result. He did it with Jeff Green and, well, we’re still arguing about that one.

So, that’s Danny Ainge’s challenge: to assess whether Bradley’s defensive impact and offensive upside justify a large multi-year investment. Or if the Celtics are better devoting that cap room to other players and spinning Bradley off for another asset.

What does everyone think will and should happen?

  • CelticsBIG3

    I'd really hate to lose AB. I don't know if he's worth 8 million a year, but I'd really hate to see him go off to another team, continue to be a pit bull on d and also continue to improve offensively to the point where he is potentially making all star teams.

  • CelticsBIG3

    I'd really hate to lose AB. I don't know if he's worth 8 million a year, but I'd really hate to see him go off to another team, continue to be a pit bull on d and also continue to improve offensively to the point where he is potentially making all star teams.

    See; Billups, Chauncy
    See; Johnson, Joe

    • Mark

      Bradley isn't and will never be an allstar so no need to worry there.

    • janos

      hi big3

  • CG12

    I think that the Avery Bradley we are seeing now is pretty much who he is. His jump shooting has come around to be perhaps his one strength on offense, and I think that it will continue to be. He is never going to have a great handle or read the floor at a higher level. But with continuing experience and maturity, he is going to refine the weaker areas of his game, such that some modest level of improvement seems very reasonable. I can see Avery as a 16/4/4 kind of guy. And his one-on-one defense will always be his calling card. A guy who plays really hard, brings a great attitude, can shoot it, and is a terror on defense is absolutely worth $8M a year. He will never be a top level star, but will be a great complementary piece – a third or fourth guy who can carry the load at times. I love Avery and really hope he sticks around.

    • oldutican


  • strips

    I think four years, $24 million is fair considering what Bradley has to offer.

    While it is very tempting to trade him for upgrades (Gordon Hayward, etc.), I think his playing style meshes well with Rondo. If he asks for anything more than $6 per though, I think it'd be better to just part ways…

  • tbunny

    The celtics have a bunch of 4-7 type guys with playoff experience who might be great to fill out a rotation on a contender, but it may not make much sense to lay out significant contracts for them on a rebuilding team.

    • janos

      hi bunny

  • Ray

    I think Bradley will end up with the Tony Allen treatment. I think Ainge will stick to his guns at $6m; then it will be up to Bradley to test the market and try to get a better deal. If he does, Ainge lets him go. Otherwise Bradley is forced to sign on Danny's terms. I totally agree that Bradley is a role player and not someone you want to commit a large chunk of the cap to.

    If the right deal pops up, Ainge will trade him. The question is, what is the right deal? Something similar to the Leonard – Hill swap that San Antonio and Indiana did a couple of seasons ago (note: I am NOT saying that the Cs need a Leonard-type talent back in exchange for Bradley). Pick up a player Ainge and Stevens are sold on as solid near the beginning of a rookie contract in exchange for a known quantity that needs to be paid now. I don't think Danny will be searching out a trade though.

    I'm not sure I see a trade based on receiving cap space or picks in return happening. Although maybe a team like Sacramento would be willing to, they just made a trade like that. They were shopping Marcus Thornton but I don't see a match on the trade machine (Thornton for Bradley and Wallace is too far apart and too lopsided cap-wise; Thornton for Bradley and Lee probably isn't enough for Boston).

    Most likely: Bradley signs a one-year with Boston after testing the RFA market.

  • Space

    A player like Bradley who plays defense to way he can rarely occurs, we lost Tony Allen and look how great his defense was ( the Kobe stopper ) this time around I don’t think we should give up someone like him. He still young and he’s only going to get better especially playing Rajon. If we want to get ready for the future why not lock down our best defender ?

  • Russell

    It looks like Danny is playing this correctly. I like the 4 year 24 million offer, it is very fair. Bradley turned it down asking for 8 million per year, which seems high. Danny is being patient and waiting to see if Avery can improve and become an 8 million per year level player. If the right deal is there he will take it and we will better, otherwise let the market determine his value, at this point I don’t see any team too excited to shell out 8 million for Avery. Perhaps he improves and becomes more of a two way player, but I think we need to wait an see what happens this season.

  • howard

    ainge is the bill blicheck of basketball

    • Dan

      No, Pop is..

  • smalltownID

    It is as simple as this……guys who want to win championships > guys who want a few extra million a year and don't want championships

  • The Cardinal

    I would pay Crawford $6 million/year before Bradley. Defense is well and good for a role player, but for "the starting guard of the future?" Heck no…a 2 guard has to be able to put the ball in the basket as well as competently dribble the ball without looking at it, and pass the ball without telegraphing it. Combine him with a point guard (Rondo) whose outside shooting doesn't exactly put the fear of Chris Paul or Deron Williams in opponents (and that's despite his improving ability to knock down those inefficient 2's – just like Bradley!), and you've got a very limited starting backcourt. Yeah, they might have their moments from time to time, but Bradley as a starting 2-guard will never win you a championship.

    Look at how many championship teams build around a defensive specialist vs. a shooter/scorer at the starting two guard and you have your answer as to whether or not Bradley should be untouchable. I don't care how many 'thumbs down" I'm bound to get, I'd trade him in a minute as part of the right deal, or offer him about $3-$4 million a year and say "take it or leave it." He's a complementary role player at best with not a whole lot of upside to what we're seeing.

  • hax

    If he will be greedy and demand more, trade him and dump some hefty wallace/lee contracts along with him as a 'if you want him, take this, or I hang up!'

    Honestly, Billy King might give us a 1st rounder for him.

  • emg

    He was very effective with Rondo on the court but I don't see him transforming into a non-role player without Rondo. I think the C's know it's contingent on Rondo so the C's should hedge until that's sorted out.

  • Shanibal

    I am sick of these articles suggesting we trade out core players. Everybody knows moving forward we need to drop the former nets players and add to the guys like Rondo, Green, Bradley, and Sully. Don’t trade these guys.

    • janos

      artiucles is present balance look ALL nba scenario celtics

  • chris m

    Bradley has yet to play a full season with Rondo, whose future is in doubt with Boston. If you are not going to keep Rondo, then yes I would trade Bradley.

  • murph

    i wonder if the Cav's would deal Dion Waiters for Bradley and a ?

    • murphman

      rest of my post got cut off, Bradly and 1st rounder

      say next years Clippers?

    • Ersatz

      Really? I wouldn't trade Beal for Bradley straight up, let alone give them a pick. Waiters might have more eventual upside on offense, but at this point, he is a complete asshat.

  • Andrew

    Bradley shouldn't be traded

  • mike

    "Ainge didn’t do it with Posey. He didn’t do it with Perk. And in both cases the Celtics came out better as a result." Are you kidding me? Trading Perk cost at least one championship, if not two. He was the perfect compliment to KG. Together they were so intimidating they won most of their games before they even stepped on the court. Having said all that, I'd rather keep Brandon Bass than Bradley or Green.