A Look Into Avery Bradley's Future With the Celtics
On Tuesday, in a surprisingly candid conversation with The Sports Hub 98.5's 'Toucher & Rich' program President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge explained that while he had preliminary discussions about signing Avery Bradley to an extension, if a deal were to come it would 'most likely' come in the summer when the 22 year old guard will hit free agency.
On the surface, this simply is a smart business move for Ainge but a deeper look into things might dictate an alternate motivation:
At his best, Bradley's looked like the prototype for complimentary shooting guards: His on ball defense is nothing short of incredible. A defensive stopper who is absolutely capable of altering the course of a game. Offensively, he's both shown to be a brilliant off the ball cutter and a capable 3 point shooter (shooting just a clip over .400 in 50 appearances during the 2011/12 season). Literally, minus a few inches of height, you really couldn't ask for much more in an off guard. That type of play is likely to land him anywhere between 8 and 12 million dollars in the open market.
At his worst, he's still undeniably an elite defender. But offensively? During certain stretches during the 2012/13 season he looked like a 11 year old who snuck into see 'The Conjuring.' When tasked with running the offense, something he's likely going to have to do again until December, Bradley not only appeared lost, but seemed to lose confidence in all other assets of his game: his field goal and three point percentage dipped frighteningly over .080 points. In today's NBA, that's just not acceptable for a starting guard.
The question for the Celtics is: Are either of those versions of Avery Bradley a player you'd like to sign? The more I think about it, the more I keep thinking that answer is 'no.'
Even the most optimistic Celtics fan would admit that this team is far from title contention. If that's the case, doesn't a Super Awesome version of Avery Bradley - or SAAB, for short - provide more value to this team as a trading chip than he does as a building block?
With around 55 million dollars in committed salary in 2014/15, it seems like it would make a lot more sense to move Bradley in a deal that would help the team shed salary (and maybe get a few picks) to a team like Houston, who has a capable ball handler in James Harden and is obviously much more suited to win-now than it would be to try and build a contender with Rondo, Jeff Green, SAAB and pretty much no wiggle room financially.
It's a tough reality for Celtics fans: Bradley's quickly become a fan favorite. But as much as fans like him, they'll like winning a whole lot more.