Report: Celtics attempted to deal for Al Jefferson and/or Paul Millsap at trade deadline

From Celtics sideline guy Greg Dickerson on twitter.

Very interesting if true. Obviously the trade deadline is now over three months behind us, and clearly the teams couldn't work something out, but it's interesting to think about who the Celtics would have included in the deal. If it were Big Al and his $15 million price tag, the Celtics would have most likely built the deal around Paul Pierce's expiring deal and a good young player (Jared Sullinger or Avery Bradley) to sweeten the pot for Utah.

However, if it were Millsap and his $7.2 million cap hit, the possibilities are endless. It could have been a one for one for Jeff Green (the Jazz small forwards were abysmal), a Bass and either Sully or Bradley combo, ect. Either way, if Dickerson is right, this just furthers the notion that Danny Ainge was pushing hard to try and make a splash before the deadline.

It's also interesting that just yesterday, Jackie MacMullan went on CSNNE and was asked what the Celtics "Plan A" was this off-season. Her answer: Paul Millsap. Hmm.

So Danny tried to deal for the guy and now he's becoming a free agent but the Celtics have no cap room (unless Pierce is amnestied and Garnett retires), what kind of options does that leave for the C's in their quest for Millsap?

Well, earlier this month we discussed sign and trade possibilities for the Hawks Josh Smith, and broke down the rules of the S&T. Basically, Millsap could only take a four year deal (as opposed to a five year pact on the open market), and it gives the C's a "hard cap" $4 million above the tax line. In other words, it makes it really tricky to keep both Pierce and Garnett and add any kind of max level talent.

If the C's were able to make the finances work (most likely by buying out Pierce), the Celtics would probably have the pieces to get the deal done. Utah is chock full of big men, but are completely bereft in the guard department. The Celtics of course have both an All-Star point guard in Rajon Rondo and a young All-Defensive team member in Avery Bradley. It would seem that a price tag of Rondo would be too high, and also counterproductive; why deal your best young piece for anything other than a superstar (something Millsap is not quite)? That means the name you would most likely hear a lot of if the teams start talking is Bradley's.

Then the question becomes, would you make the deal? Personally I would. Millsap is a durable (18 missed games in 7 seasons) double-double machine who has averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds over the past 5 seasons. Last season, his numbers dipped a bit, but he also only played 30 minutes a game for a Utah team stacked down low (Jefferson, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors also played big minutes).

Bradley is a great defensive player, and may well develop more of an offensive game, but he also may not. He's basically living off of one 30 game stretch to end the 2011-12 season where he shot the ball well and looked like he was turning the corner offensively, but otherwise has been a consistently bad offensive player (40% FG, 31% 3 PT, 8.8 PER in 2012-13). He is also a below average ball handler and has already undergone surgery on both shoulders.

Of course it would hurt to give up his defensive excellence, but the Celtics have already been linked to several skilled guards in the draft that could help fill that void.

This is all speculation obviously, but Jackie Mac knows her stuff, and Danny normally goes after what he wants. I would not be surprised one bit if the notion of a sign and trade for Millsap has already been discussed in Celtics headquarters, and if it has, it probably comes down to one question; would you deal Bradley and a medium sized contract guy (Bass, Lee or Terry) for the Jazz big man?

Let us know in the comment section.

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