|The return of the scowl?|
If you've read my articles you also know that I defend one of Ainge's moves above any other - the 2011 trade of Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic a 1st round pick. The trade was crucified by fans and media members alike. Perk was the "heart and soul of the Celtics" and the trade ruined the 2011 Celtics chances, people said.
Only it didn't.
Perkins never recovered from his 2010 ACL injury, and has become one of the worst starting players in the league. The Thunder almost immediately began regretting the 4 year, $32 million contract they gave him in the summer of 2011, and with Steven Adams in the fold he's unlikely to have a role in OKC much longer. Green on the other hand has been solid, but unspectacular. While he has his warts, he's still a valuable NBA player, averaging 15 PPG while playing above average defense. The Celts also picked up Krstic, who was solid down the stretch in 2011, and a 2012 1st round pick. Of course, that pick was wasted on Fab Melo, but it was still a valuable chip that could have potentially turned into something good (Jared Sullinger was picked only one pick earlier).
They say you never judge a trade until three years after it happens, but with the three year anniversary rapidly approaching, it's clear the Celts won the deal.
That's why what I'm about to propose may shock some folks.
The Celtics should consider dealing Jeff Green back to the Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, plus 2nd year swingman Jeremy Lamb and Oklahoma City's 2014 1st round pick.
The deal works under the ESPN trade machine, and would benefit both teams. Don't believe me? Let's break it down.
Why the Celtics would do this trade:
1. It makes them worse for 2013-14 - As we discussed above, the Celtics should be looking at any possible way to improve their chances at landing a superstar. One of those avenues is the 2014 draft, where there are at least three potential franchise altering stars ready to enter the league in Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle. At this moment, while the Celtics are not good, they may not be terrible either. By trading value from the roster, Ainge helps improve the chances that Boston will lose games, thus improving their chances in the lottery. By dealing Green and only receiving Perk (who is toast) and Lamb (who is improving, but is not as good as Green at the moment), Boston will absolutely lose more games the rest of the way. Will that lock them into a stud in the draft? Of course not. But every little bit helps. And considering Green is 27 and likely at his ceiling (a good, but far from great player), the Celtics lose nobody likely to be on their roster the next time they are a title contender.
2. They pick up two valuable chips - While Perkins is in the deal merely as a salary balancer, the other two chips in this proposal would have value to Boston. Lamb is only 21 and is averaging 8.3 PPG in about 18 MPG for OKC. He is signed through 2016 for a total of $7 million, giving the Celtics a young rotation player for cheap. Considering he's only 21, and the Celtics have his rights for a while (he'll hit restricted free agency in 2016, meaning Boston has the ability to sign him to his next contract if they want), there's a good chance he'd be here during the next run of successful basketball.
Boston also scoops up a 3rd first round pick in the upcoming 2014 draft, one of the deepest drafts in years. Sure, the pick isn't going to be in the lottery, and will likely be 25th or later, but that's still a legitimately valuable asset. It's possible that the Celts could land two young, cheap players in this deal - two more than they'd be getting rid of.
3. Perkins deal expires one year earlier than Green's - An added bonus of this deal is that Perk's deal, while horrific, expires during the summer of 2015, while Green is signed through 2016. This would give Boston an additional $9 million in cap space for the 2015-16 season, the same summer that Rajon Rondo hits free agency. That means Boston would have only $16 million on the books for 2015-16 (Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee) plus another $10 million in options for Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Jeremy Lamb, Phil Pressey and Vitor Faverani. While Boston is unlikely to lure a big name free agent, the extra space could be used to pay a guy who they acquire in a potential trade, plus makes them more likely to give Rondo max money because their books would be in better shape.
Why the Thunder would do this trade:
1. Green is a major upgrade over anything else they have coming off the bench - At this moment, OKC's bench is Lamb, Adams, Reggie Jackson, Nick Collison and Derek Fisher. By far their worst bench in the past five seasons. The Thunder have one of the best starting line-ups in basketball, but with James Harden and then Kevin Martin leaving, their bench has been devastated. Enter Green, a 15 PPG guy, who would easily be able to give them 10-13 PPG in 25 minutes per game off the bench. While he's no Harden, he would do a decent Martin impression, with the added bonus of being a superior defensive player. The Thunder's window is now, and Green makes them much better this year.
2. They move $17 million in dead money - Listen, I'm not going to bash Perk the guy. Awesome dude. But man, he is a terrible basketball player now. He's averaging 2.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 0.4 BPG in 18 MPG. His defense is still solid against traditional center types, but he's completely lost against quicker, faster bigs. Something that the NBA has gone more and more to over the last decade. The $17 million owed to Perkins through 2015 is among the worst contracts in basketball, and for an elite team in a small market (and unwilling to go over the tax line), throwing away $8+ million per season is a devastating outcome. By subbing in Green, OKC is paying an actual valuable player to play a big time role as 6th man. Perkins on the other hand would be easily replaceable as starting center. Which brings us to..
3. Steven Adams is better than Perkins - Adams has only played 10 NBA games, but it's already becoming clear that he's a viable NBA center. The 20-year-old is averaging 4.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 1.2 BPG in only 17.5 MPG, numbers that equate to 9.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes of play. Adams would likely be an improvement over Perkins right now, and with a much higher ceiling. OKC could give Perkins 18 minutes to a combination of Adams and Collison, more than making up for the loss of Perk.
To refresh, this is not a rumor, but just an idea. It makes Boston worse this year (which is a good thing), plus it gives them two valuable assets for the future, and $9 million in cap space for 2015-16. OKC helps boost their title chances and brings in a familiar face who they know can fill a void in their line-up. It's a win-win. Now tell me why I'm wrong in the comments.
P.S. If Boston wanted to shave more salary/get worse they could throw in Jordan Crawford. Saves them an additional $2 million.
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For more of my articles, click here Michael Dyer 11/19/2013 06:33:00 PM Tweet