The Celtics must move to reduce their roster of 16 guaranteed contracts to 15 by Monday at 5:00 p.m. According to Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, Danny Ainge "is making a lot phone calls" in hopes of doing that through a trade, but who is he making available?

The CelticsLife staff recently exchanged emails discussing whether or not Jared Sullinger should be a candidate…

Food for thought - the (New Orleans) Pelicans have nobody. Sullinger?


Assuming P. Jones is odd man out, we have 15 players and only 13 can be active for games. 12 locks to be active next Friday against Toronto, if healthy, are Smart, IT, AB, Zeller, Lee, Amir, Turner, Olynk, Jerebko, Crowder, Rozier and Hunter, with Mickey as the only lock to be inactive (skipped wednesday opener b/c Olynk suspension).

That means there is 1 spot for Sully and Young. Given our lack of outside shooting, and the fact we already know Sully is going to be odd man out of rotation w/ Stevens saying he wants to only play 4 bigs, I am going with Young. Like enough is enough, we need to know if Young is going to be an NBA player or not.

Since we already know Sully is going to be odd man out of rotation w/ Stevens deciding to only play 4 bigs a game, I pick Young. Then, I'd call Michael Jordan (Owner, Charlotte Bobcats) first. They need more talent with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist injury, and their PF depth chart is extremely bad: Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky.

Although Charlotte is over the cap, they're $7 million under the tax threshold and Sully is making just under $3 million this season. Charlotte has a second-round pick in 2018, and two second-round picks in 2019. Could see a Sully being traded for two of those picks as an option. Would love a first round-pick, but I'd be shocked if they could convince someone to do that. Although if anyone can, it's Ainge.


The thing is, Ainge doesn't have your level of urgency, Max. I don't think either Hunter or Rozier or locks to be active, either or both could be sent to Maine (as well as Young). I doubt Ainge is willing yet to part with Sully for second round picks. There's no rush right now, other than our impatience.


If Danny is leaning towards keeping Hunter, Young, and Rozier active, there is a rush to trade Sullinger because his trade value would plummet is he's on team, but inactive. I look at this as having only two options: (1) keep Sully and make him one of the 13 active players, and send Hunter, Young, or Rozier to Maine, or (2) trading Sully.

I do not believe there is a team out there that would offer a first-round pick for Sullinger. He is not going to have a career year this season, especially playing behind Zeller, Lee, Johnson, and Olynk in the rotation. He has well publicized weight issues. More importantly, depending on the type of offer sheets Sullinger receives from teams next summer as a restricted free agent, it's entirely possible that the team who trades for him will only be getting a one-year rental. No one is going to give up an increasingly valuable first-round pick for someone with these issues.

Do you think there is a scenario knowing what we know about Stevens' rotation plans where we get a 1st for Sullinger?


No, I don't think anyone would give a 1st for Sully. But there's also no way he'll be inactive if he's healthy. Why wouldn't they just keep him and hope he earns minutes? Why does Danny need to get rid of anybody right now? We're hyped about the rookies cause that's what happens in the preseason, but they're almost certainly not going to be in the rotation to start the year.


Teams that would be looking to acquire someone like Sullinger are going to be teams that are either: looking to shed a contract of their own; looking for cheap rebuilding assets; or, struggling with injury.

Sullinger is worth more than a second-round pick, but we can't demand a first. He probably won't get an extension until the end of the season like Avery Bradley did two years ago. It's definitely a difficult spot for the Celtics, and will continue to be unless and until the demand for a rotational power forward increases.

The Pelicans, Suns, Rockets, Pistons, Wizards, and Mavericks could maybe be interested in Sullinger, but there isn't a ton of urgency right now. However, if someone gets hurt, Ainge will get calls about him. For now and the near future though, just get used to seeing his grimacing face on the court.


I plead with you all not to forget the Nuggets got two first-round picks for Timofey Mozgov from the Cavaliers. All it takes is one team willing to make an absurd offer to materialize, even if the player in question doesn't play all that much (Mozgov barely played starter's minutes in Denver before he was traded).


I think we'll have a better gauge on what Ainge is going to do with Sullinger as we get closer to the trade deadline. Obviously, this all depends on how the Celtics do as a team this year. However, if Sullinger falls out of the rotation in favor of Johnson, Lee, Olynyk, Zeller, and Jerebko, then obviously there will be some motivation to trade him. I don't think Sullinger by himself could net a first-round pick, but maybe we can get a first if we package him with James Young. I think an offer of Sullinger and Young could garner some attention around the league.


Given the strength of our first two units, as well as Jerebko, who I see us using whenever we want to go small and surround IT shooters in every spot, I really don't see Brad ever getting to the 12th and 13th man on the bench, which is where Sullinger is currently slated to reside.

Also, I can't imagine how much larger the contract offers are going to be next summer when the salary cap rises by an incredible $20 million. Padraic,you mentioned Avery Bradley's contract extension earlier, and it reminded me of how amazing that 4 year/$32 million contract is. Next summer with the new cap number, I feel like it's a certainty Sullinger will get at least two times Bradley's deal, i.e. 4 years/$64 million, which would be ridiculous and why I wouldn't plan on offering him an extension following the season. And if the Celtics agree and know they are not going to extend Sullinger after the season, they need to start considering a trade because it's likely Sullinger's value will only decrease during the season due to his difficulty in getting playing time.

Brenton, you are definitely right that it only takes one idiot, but boy he'd have to be a real big idiot. I am interested in knowing all players who netted a first round pick over the last year or two. However, we also need to remember the value of draft picks are going to sky rocket next summer when the cap goes up by $20 million because as the value of these pro contracts rise, the potential value and bargain that a draft pick represents on a fixed-amount rookie deal is only going to sky rocket as well. I see that as another reason why Sullinger will never net a 1st.


Max, I think you're devaluing Sullinger too much. After the Rondo trade he was the C's best player for a while. He's ranked 141 in the recent NBA player rankings, and 6th-best on the team. I think he's a good bet for at least 15 minutes per game--he's averaging 14.3 right now in the preseason when they're playing 12-13 guys a night.


It may also be that I am unfairly assuming he is going to eventually be traded. Is that something you would disagree with? Do you think there is a chance that Danny Ainge signs him long-term given the level of commitment it will take? I mean Tristan Thompson just got $82 million and Sullinger has a fairly easy case that he's better than Thompson:

1. Jared Sullinger:25.4 mpg, 44% fg, 11 ppg, 7 boards
2. Tristan Thompson 28.7 mpg, .49% fg, 10 ppg, 8 boards

PER 36
1. Jared Sullinger: 16 ppg and 10 rebounds
2. Tristan Thompson: 13 ppg and 10 rebounds

1. Jared Sullinger: 16.3 PER, 2.8 value above replacement
2. Tristan Thompson: 15.2 PER, 0.9 value above replacement

And given the fact Sullinger required an intervention to start showing some offseason commitment, I just don't see him in Boston on a big deal next year. And if we're going to trade him, I don't think it's such a bad idea to consider doing that now.

Also, considering Sullinger qualifies for the bird exception, any team that owns his bird rights is permitted to sign him to the maximum four-year deal even if doing so would put them over the cap; hence, the bird 'exception'. Furthermore, since any team that acquired him also acquired his bird rights, the market for his services would expand because the inclusion of the exception allows teams with very little to no cap room to get involved.


I think the Thompson comp is interesting because there is a lot of debate around the league about his value as well. Cleveland is cap-strapped and desperate for a title, so 5 years/$82 million works for them because even if it ends up being an overpay there was just no way for Cleveland to replace Thompson's production except via trade, with only the Haywood expiring and low firsts to offer. No other team even approached Thompson, and that league-wide reticence to give big money to a non-rim protecting, non-shooting big may be in play for Sullinger, especially since Sully has proven himself to be one of the league's worst volume three point shooters.

On the flip side, however, Max's point on the rising cap is an interesting one in terms of how we gauge value in the new NBA. First round picks do of course become more valuable with a rising cap -- but so too do deals signed under the lower cap. If a team traded for Sully and locked him into a deal that looks like an over pay -- say, 4/50 or something around there -- there's a strong case that that deal becomes a bargain once the cap jumps, and then that team has locked up a killer third big just entering his prime. Unique contract situations like Sullinger's (and, to a different extent, guys like Zeller and Andre Drummond) make it hard to nail down any sort of trade value, but a first from a contender like, say, the Spurs isn't out of the question in my mind.


In my eyes, he's a commodity that some team will want to trade for. Especially because he's shown flashes of brilliance in his rookie and sophomore seasons. So a team might be willing to make an investment and hope that it pays off.

I think the bird rights will have an impact too, and I expect Ainge to dangle that in front of potential suitors when they come calling, but I also think Ainge really likes what he has with Sullinger. I don't think he would take a second rounder for him, because he feels he's too valuable. I don't disagree either. Max sent some good stats on Sullinger, and he's been a solid contributor for the Celtics when he's healthy. So let him have 15 minutes a game and wait for the right phone call, if not you've got a solid big who's playing for a contract.


I don't think Jared Sullinger is going to get traded this week. While Ainge will shop him, he's not going to get traded during the year. Sullinger only plays meaningful minutes for this Celtics team unless one of the quartet of bigs gets hurt. And all of that is because Sullinger is not in shape and being in shape is super important when playing basketball for a living. Ainge won't dump his players just to dump them unless it becomes a locker room issue.

Sullinger compared to Tristan Thompson is an interesting comparison stats wise, but that's looking at both players in a vacuum. Thompson is on a team full of stars, all they need him to do is rebound and change games with his energy. His contract is a reflection of his value to the make up of that particular team (and his relationship with Lebron James). Sullinger is on a team in desperate need of a star, and isn't one. The team is clearly upset with the way he came into camp, and barring injury, he's on the outside looking in of this rotation.


Regardless of his performance this season, I don't trust him and, as a result, I'm not giving this guy, who required an intervention to motivate to lose ten pounds when staying in shape is his JOB, any long-term guaranteed money. Since I'm not re-signing him, I'm trading him, and all that's left is figuring out when the best time to push for it is.

I definitely think if he'll ever figure out how to motivate himself to be and stay healthy over an entire season, it's going to be this year since he's playing for his first post-rookie contract. There's also no doubt we're better with a productive Sully. Therefore, maybe Paul's got it right with the sign-and-trade angle, especially because it would serve to expand the trade market for him.



How do you feel about Jared Sullinger? Would you be open to signing him to an extension next summer, and if so, what you would offer him? Are you also open to trading him, and if so, what would you require in return? How would you go about reducing the roster from 16 to 15 by the Monday deadline?

Photo Credit: Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Max Sandgrund 10/24/2015 10:27:00 AM Edit
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