The Green faithful have been all giddy over the Sheed going from albatross contract to bargaining chip. And we should be since this was potentially the biggest ($6.3M+25% vs. the $5.765M of the MLE) weapon in Danny’s arsenal. In fact it is even better since combined with the D-leaguers’ salaries it provides almost $10M in matching salary leverage.
For a team ten million over the Luxury Cap this could mean $20M in savings. Conversely with the Celtics already well north of the Luxury level, adding such a player would be a $20M expenditure vs. letting Sheed retire and waiving the D-leaguers. While we pundits of the bolgosphere tend to be rather generous with Wyc’s money, you have to ask yourself what player could be acquired that would actually give you that much bang for your twenty million.
While never insignificant, the economic part of the equation seemed less of a factor when the roster was about half filled with holes. Especially with the Center position having only the seriously injured Perk and the Turkish 2nd round draft pick, the need for a major bargaining chip appeared critical. Centers are never in abundant supply and one figured that Ainge would need all the leverage he could muster. Fast forward one month and with Danny’s deft maneuvering to get one O’Neal with the MLE and the other at the veteran minimum, Center is no longer a need.
At this point the Celtics are legitimately two deep at every position. Any team with a $20M third stringer has made a major mistake. There is a need, the much discussed backup three with enough size and agility and strength to share the burden of minimizing the damage done by a LeBron, Carmelo, Durant, Lewis, Gerald Wallace, or Josh Smith. Marquis Daniels is a game and heady defender but he gives up so much size to these “power threes” that he is often overpowered. Some have bemoaned the loss of Tony Allen who was frequently used to help contain these scoring machines. In truth Tony’s height disadvantage was even more extreme and while he was strong enough to impede their progress driving, often they just shot over him. Pierce himself often struggles to contain these elite of the lethal combination of size, athleticism, and skill.
The truth is that the list of players effective at limiting the members of this murderers’ row is so short as to be almost nonexistent. To excel defending at this level and to also have even mediocre offensive skills is even rarer. Economically trading Sheed + the D-leaguers for a $10M player only makes sense if he is a near starter, probably one that might extend into the post-Big-Three era.
How about Sheed alone for a $6-7M small forward? Once again, unless this acquisition can push Daniels to third on the depth chart, it is hard to see it as a good investment. The one name that makes real sense, at least for the Celtics, is Shane Battier. On Celtics sites there have been about a hundred threads and articles proposing this trade, on Houston sites about zero. The problem is that Houston expects to be a contender this year with the return of Yao and Shane is their starting small forward. Why would a contender trade a starter for salary relief? Also the musical chairs from the depth chart bubbling up to accept more substantial responsibility reveals some additional problems. O.K. accept for a minute that Ariza (an excellent backup, younger, and a legitimate choice to replace Shane) is moved in to the starting position. Oops, Ariza was also the primary backup for Kevin Martin at shooting guard and their third string SG is Brooks who is the starting point guard. Now Chase Budinger performed well and would probably be acceptable as the backup SF but the picture is less rosy at SG with inexperienced Jermaine Taylor. Taylor would almost certainly have to contribute since if Brooks is the number 2 SG, you have the point guard manned by Kyle Lowery and, well, nobody. Let’s ask the question another way. If Battier was our starter and moving him created this kind of uncertainty in backing up three positions, would you dump him for salary relief?
If Danny could pull this off, I think he would. But enough about ideas that probably won’t work, tomorrow a bit about some less favorable, but probably more practical, solutions and how I think it will play out.