I know that nobody would want to talk about another trade following the heartbreaking developments of yesterday; it is not easy to lose a superstar in the making for nothing1, but bear with me when I propose a trade that I think would benefit both the Celtics and the Kings: Brandon Bass for Jason Thompson (you can also add sweeteners if you want to)
Why would the Celtics do it?
Well, the main motivation is to avoid paying the luxury tax without losing any player of value. The players the Celtics currently have on their roster are untradable due to the serious discrepancies between their salaries and their values to a team. (This works both ways: Bradley and Sullinger, for example, are underpaid whereas Wallace is overpaid.) Heck, even a 2 million expiring contract in Jordan Crawford is apparently drawing interest like he is Pepe Le Pew. That's not good news. Now, by waiving the recently acquired Greene, the Celtics get ~500k below the tax, yet as soon as they fill the remaining roster spot they'll start paying tax. You need more flexibility than that. Bass is one of the few guys that other teams might want to trade for: He's proven his worth as a role player, and his contract expires after next year. He's not that cap-friendly, but then again he's not Gerard Wallace.
The Celtics have two big projects in Sullinger and Olynyk who can stretch the floor and are much cheaper than Bass is, which makes him sort of expandable both in the short term and definitely in the long term. However, despite having a plethora of big men options at hand all summer, the Celtics somewhat paradoxically have needed more size. Thompson, 6-11, provides that as he would be the second tallest player on the roster. He is a really athletic big, and even though he hasn't proven much yet, he can definitely rebound the ball.
If this trade goes through, the Celtics cut ~800k if Thompson waives his trade kicker and ~500k if he doesn't, which in any case gives Ainge more room in signing free agents come trade deadline. On top of that, the Celtics get a 27 year old player with a good attitude in lieu of a 30-year old veteran whom they won't be needing sooner or later. That would definitely make Brad Stevens a happier man.
Why would the Kings do it?
Tom Ziller of SB Nation has recently analyzed where Thompson and the Kings stand, and he doesn't see much of a future there. Thompson has not turned into the player the Kings wished for, and that they signed Carl Landry in addition to the Patrick Patterson trade of February 2013 isn't great news for him. The Kings need players to stretch the floor to make better use of Cousins' abilities, and Jason Thompson doesn't really fall into that plan. Brandon Bass, on the other hand, can both provide bench scoring and is a better mid-to-long range shooter than Thompson is. Bass' presence would mean that the Kings don't need to play Mbah a Moute and Outlaw as stretch 4s.
Moreover, Bass' contract expires in 2014-2015 just like the 9 other contracts the Kings currently own. It's obvious that there's a pattern there, and unlike Thompson, Bass doesn't mean a cap hit come the big year for the Kings.
The Kings and the Celtics have talked and finalized trades more than a few times recently, and history means a lot for conducting business in the NBA: It's no surprise that the Kings frequently pop in Celtics-related trade rumors. However, this is not an easy trade to make.
*Even though it makes sense to swap both players, one side will always see itself in a worse position and want further compensation. Both the Celtics and the Kings overvalue their draft picks at the moment, and that might be a deterrent for either party.
*The Celtics are saving money in the short run, however Ainge might not want to commit to yet another player beyond 2015 (the contract year for Rajon Rondo)
*Despite all signs saying otherwise, the Kings might still be seeing more value in Jason Thompson just because, you know, they're the Kings.
ESPN Trade Machine projects +2 wins for the Celtics with this trade, which means it is not a huge win or loss for either party, and it makes sense both financially and roster-wise for both teams. Fab Melo - Donte Greene trade indicates that Danny Ainge is trying his best to shed salary in every possible way so I don't expect to see any big moves at least until the deadline. Therefore, a Bass for Thompson trade is at least plausible for the reasons listed above. 1 I'm expecting backlash from both people who think I seriously consider Melo to be a superstar and those who were unnecessarily attached to Melo.↩