Should the Celtics pursue a Jeff Green trade?

Much has been discussed on whether or not it would be prudent for the Celtics to trade Rajon Rondo in order to fully rebuild. The thought is that if keep Rondo, you won't be good enough to compete for a championship, but you won't be bad enough to draft a superstar. And don't be fooled, you almost always need a high pick to draft a superstar. Looking at teams that have made the Finals in recent years, you have the Heat where LeBron, Wade, and Bosh were all top 5 picks. You have the Spurs with Duncan as the #1 pick. The Thunder with Durant, Westbrook, and Harden as top 5 picks. The Celtics with KG and Ray Allen as top picks. The Lakers with Shaq and Gasol as top picks. The Pistons with Billups and Rasheed Wallace as top picks. The Cavs with LeBron. The Magic with Howard. The Nets with Jason Kidd , Van Horn, and Kenyon Martin.

This team might not be half bad! Unfortunately being not half
bad is a lot worse than being bad with the way the NBA is set up.
The only two best players on Finals' teams who weren't top picks were Dirk and Kobe and both of them were drafted later for other reasons. Dirk was drafted when teams weren't picking foreign players high and Kobe the first non big man from High School to go pro. The next Dirk or Kobe is not falling past #5 any more. I'd say that the one team that was able to win a championship without an All- NBA 1st teamer leading them was the Pistons. And they only won because of the whole Kobe/Shaq drama.

So can the Celtics add two stars to Rondo like they did with Pierce? Well first off they'd have to suck a few years and draft well to gain more assets (The 2007 Celtics had Al Jefferson and a top 5 pick to play with to add to Pierce. Right now we don't have any asset close to as valuable to trade to add to Rondo). Assuming the Celtics did suck for a couple year and Ainge drafted a player with similar potential to Al Jefferson, then they'd still have to find an MVP candidate player that is willing to come to Boston.

Green should average 20 points a game for the Celtics
 this season. Will that get the C's closer to Banner 18?
So how do you add another star or two? If you are not going to trade Rondo, you can sit him out for a good chunk of the latter part of the season to "tank." Since Rondo will be asking for a $20 million a year max contract two summers from now, you won't have the cap space to keep Rondo and add another star with Green and Gerald Wallace making another 20 million (not to mention the rest of the players you have under contract). So to "tank" you can trade Rondo and go that route or you can trade other pieces right now.

Players no other team would want either based on ability or contract: Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford, Fab Melo, and Kris Humphries.
Players other teams would want either based on ability or contract: Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Jeff Green.

Now fans might say, "Why trade Green now that he's finally starting to reach his potential?" Well for starters until the 2nd half of the season, he had negative trade value. Fans always want to trade the players who suck and have bad contracts. That's not how things work.

Pros of trading Green instead of Rondo:
  • If you trade Rondo and draft a star player you are still left with only one star. If you trade Green and draft a star, you have two stars.
  • Rondo has one less year on his contract. Green is on the books for three more years. If you trade Green, you have a chance to have legitimate cap space in the Summer of 2015. 
  • Green played well the 2nd half of the season. This might be your only chance to trade him. If he goes back to being the Invisible Man, you're stuck with his contract in addition to Wallace's.
  • Green should be the #1 scorer on this year's Celtics team. The best you could hope for with a team with Green as your #1 man is a first round loss. The Celtics don't raise banners for just making the playoffs. If you trade Green, the Celtics (even with Rondo) will not be good enough play themselves out of a top 5 pick as then all of a sudden your #1 scorer is who? Marshon Brooks?
  • A good scoring, poor rebounding forward is easier to replace than a point guard who is capable of being the best player in the playoffs.
  • The lauded 2014 draft is led by players who play Green's position.
  • Besides getting a better pick with Green not around, you should also be able to acquire a couple assets in a Green trade and maybe even get the other team to take one of your bad contracts off your hands.
  • Green is already 27 (same age as Rondo). In a couple years he will start losing his athleticism.  Can you really expect to compete for a championship with a less athletic Green as your 2nd or 3rd best player?
  • Does Green have the mentality to be a star? I've seen him get sensitive even over criticism on Twitter. Stars like Pierce, KG, and Rondo don't respond to "haters" on Twitter. Green's not the only sensitive Celtic. We have a few. Not a good trait.
Cons of trading Green instead of Rondo:
  • If you think Green is about to explode this season as he becomes a starting small forward for the first time in his career, then you'd be selling low.
  • If you just want the Celtics to make the playoffs and don't care about championships, then keeping Green will help the Celtics win more games this year and battle for the 8th spot.
  • If you think Green can be a top 3 player on a championship team and you think that one of Bradley, Sullinger, or Olynyk has star potential to either be the third star with Rondo and Green on a championship contender, or that you can trade for the next KG.
  • Uncle Jeff is a nice guy. He even has responded to you on Twitter. You hate to trade any of your Celtics. You were against trading Jefferson, Gerald Green and Ryan Gomes for KG. 
  • If you think Green + a 2014 pick in the 9-15 range is more valuable than whatever assets you get for Green + a 2014 pick in the 1-5 range.

Look, personally I hate the NBA system where unless you're a prime Free Agent destination, you have to suck to get a star and compete for a title. I think it's ass backwards. Personally I'd make the top 2 or 3 picks in every draft be available to all teams in an equally weighted lottery, with the exception of that you could only "win" the lottery so many times in a 30 year span. Yeah a great team might sometimes get to add a great young player, but so what. Great college teams add great young players. Also wouldn't it be nice to see some young stars not to have to play their first few seasons on putrid teams. Don't think it didn't help Larry Bird that he got to play with quality players from the start. Same goes for Magic Johnson.

No guarantee with a top 5 pick you get a Durant (or even an Al Horford),
but if you're drafting 10-20, who are you going to get? *(Scroll to
the bottom of this article for picks #10-20 of the 2007 NBA draft.)
Now count me as one of the many people who were against the Kendrick Perkins for Green trade. It was never about who would have the better future. Obviously Green had the higher ceiling. Green had the brighter future. The reason why I didn't like the trade was because I didn't think the juice was worth the squeeze. You only have so many opportunities to legitimately compete for a championship and punting those away better be worth it. Watch The Association from that 2010-2011 season. That trade fucked the team up. Without the trade we finish with a higher seed and don't even play the Heat in the 2nd round. If the Mavs could win a title that year, we were still good enough too. Then the following year we get to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals playing Ryan Hollins serious minutes. I do think Perkins could have been enough to get us 1 more win (Also keep in mind that Perkins was a better fit for Doc's Boston offense than he is for the running Thunder).

But the trade happened, and as soon as Green put on a Celtics jersey I started rooting for him to become a star. I think you can definitely compete for a title with Green as a starter. If the Celtics had a young KG or Duncan to pair with Rondo and Green, I'd say keep Green. I think if we do keep Green he will have a great year. He should average 20 a game. And he'll make it look easy. But I also understand the limitations of the system. I was a big Big Al fan and would have loved to get KG without trading him, but that would never happen in reality. You have to give to get something. And you don't want to be stuck in the drafting in the 10-20 range. You don't want to be the Bucks of the past 30 years. You either want to be a team that has the pieces to legitimately compete for a title or you need to be a team that can legitimately compete for the #1 pick.
I feel like we did pretty good the last time we drafted a Kansas star

Tanking for a top pick definitely doesn't always work (See the Celtics in the Duncan and Durant drafts). But not tanking almost always guarantees you no better than mediocrity (again unless you're a NBA free agent destination city like L.A, New York, or the Florida and Texas cities). So yes, if you go up to a beautiful girl at a bar, you're most likely going to fail (unless you're Mike Saver of course), but if you don't go up to the girl you're definitely going to fail. Many teams failed at tanking for Durant and LeBron, but the only way to get them was to tank. The Sonics and Cavs didn't get them by shrewd trades. They got them because their teams sucked that season.

If you want the Celtics to get back to competing for a championship, you do that by adding an Andrew Wiggins type. People have a warped opinion of what "tanking" really means. It's not throwing games or players not playing their hardest. When media members ask players their thoughts on tanking it's rather silly. Of course every NBA player is going to be against tanking. You play to compete your hardest. The 5 guys on the floor should be playing their absolute hardest. Your coach should be coaching his absolute best. But if you put a team of Phil Pressey, Avery Bradley, Marshon Brooks, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk on the floor, they can play their hardest, Brad Stevens can coach his ass off and you're still going to lose. It's about the GM only giving the coach players good enough to win less than 20 games. It's about the coach being on board with the GM about playing the youth (Trust me, Danny and Doc were on board in 2007. And I think that's a main reason that Doc didn't want to come back this season. I don't think he had it in him to coach such a losing team again for the sake of the team's long term future). It's also about a star player sitting out with an injury. Pierce got on board in 2007. Ray Allen did as well with the Sonics that season.

So if there was a way to build the next Celtics championship contender without losing a ton of games this season, I'd be all for keeping Rondo and Green. But unless you change the draft system, one likely has to go. And everyone and their mama has talked about trading Rondo, so I figured it's about time that someone discussed trading the other key player and fellow 27 year old on the roster. To Rondo's credit he has never let trade discussions effect him. If Ainge is not at least inquiring what the market is like for Green, then he wouldn't be doing his job. Ainge has traded KG, Pierce, Jefferson, Antoine, and Perkins. Surely Green is not untouchable. If you can move Green and let's say Lee's longterm contact for a decent B prospect young player, an expiring contract and a 1st rounder, do you make that trade? Is there a team out there that would offer cap relief and a first for Green? Most likely. Not sure if they would also throw in another good young player, but worth asking.

Loved Big Al as a Celtic. Loved Banner 17
and competing for titles every season more.
My suggestion would be to be prepared for anything these next couple seasons. Maybe Rondo stays, maybe he goes. Same with Green. Same with Sullinger, Olynyk, and Bradley. It's hard because you're going to want to get behind this group like you did with the Big 3 Celtics, but the truth is that of the final 15 that are on the opening night roster, don't expect more than a handful (if that) to be on the team in a few years. The Celtics had some quality young player before the Big 3 era. The only one left is Rondo. Teams change. Hondo's Celtics became Bird's Celtics. Bird's Celtics became Reggie's Celtics. Pierce's Celtics may become Rondo's Celtics or maybe we end up with a new superstar to get behind. Because remember we don't draft Pierce if we don't suck during Pitino's 1st season and we don't get Ray Allen (and convince KG to come to Boston) if we don't suck in 2007. If Pitino leads the Celtics to the playoffs his first year here, no Pierce. If Doc leads the 2006-2007 Celtics to the eighth seed, no Ray or KG.

So while the players should want to win every game this season, it doesn't make you less of a Celtics fan if you'd prefer 17 wins to 37 wins. In fact it might make you even more of a diehard, as you're showing you're in it for the long haul. I don't have anything negative to say about Celtics fans that want to get that 8th seed. Their hearts are in good places. I'm all about 18 though. And I think Ainge is too. For that reason, I expect one of Rondo or Green to be traded? Who would you prefer to keep?

* Picks #10-20 of the Durant draft: Acie Law, Thaddeus Young, Julian Wright, Al Thornton, Rodney Stuckey, Nick Young, Sean Williams, Marco Belinelli, Javaris Crittendon, Jason Smith.

Related: Breaking down the five most likely trade possibilities for Rajon Rondo
The time is now for Jeff Green
History Lesson: A look at past NBA draft lotteries suggests tanking is a very bad idea
Why Brad Stevens and Rajon Rondo are the reasons the 2013-14 Celtics will not tank
History lesson: A revealing look inside the Celtics 1996-97 tank job
Report: Pistons could eventually try to use Brandon Jennings to acquire Rajon Rondo
Video: Jeff Green "It's All About Heart" mix