9 reasons not to trade Jaylen Brown for Damian Lillard
I've always been a big fan of Dame Lillard. When the Nets traded their first rounder to the Blazers for Gerald Wallace, I knew they'd regret the "win now" move. And when Portland used that draft pick to select Lillard things looked even worse for the Nets. As you see the Nets were already in the business of sacrificing the future for splashy win now moves even prior to the KG/Pierce trade.
The Wallace for Lillard trade became even worse when the Nets had to kick in another 1st rounder for the Celtics to take on his contract in the aforementioned KG/Pierce deal. Lillard has continued to get better and better each year he's been in the NBA. Same goes for the Celtics' Jaylen Brown. Had Boston been able to trade for Lillard when he was Jaylen's age, he would have made a tremendous Celtic.
Would I take Lillard now when he's 7 years older? Of course! But you're not just signing the 31 year old Lillard. In order to acquire him you'd have to trade major assets for him. You can't trade your 2021 or 2022 1st rounders due to the Kemba for Horford deal, which further limits your options. When you see photoshop pics of Jayson Tatum, Brown, and Lillard together as Celtics, they look great, don't get me wrong, but they are a fairy tale.
When push comes to shove, in order to pair Lillard with Tatum, you'd be losing Jaylen. And here are 5 reasons why that would be a mistake.
1. Check the numbers. Jaylen Brown at age 24 comps very similarly to Damian Lillard at that same age.
Lillard due to being a point guard is going to have higher assist numbers, but in terms of scoring Brown is a better scorer at 24 than Dame was. Remember Lillard was already the number option on the Blazers at age 24. Brown was the Celtics #2 option this past season. And prior to this season he was even lower. The sky is the limit for Jaylen as a scorer in the NBA. He dropped 42 one game in just three quarters when Tatum was out. That should give you a glimpse of just how easy scoring comes for Jaylen.
2. You're very likely to get better production from Jaylen Brown through his 20's than Lillard through his 30's
Brown is 24. Lillard will be 31 in a couple weeks. Both are All-Stars. If you were trading for their past years, you'd take Lillard of course. But if you were trading for past years, the Celtics should also sign Larry Bird and Bill Russell this offseason. If this trade was on the table last offseason, it's fair to speculate that a Lillard and Jaylen combo would have gone further this past season (Assuming neither is out for the 1st round).
If I was a betting man, I'd guess if you swapped Brown for Jaylen right now, the 2021-22 Celtics would win more games. But fans already weren't satisfied with just making the Eastern Conference Finals. Do you want to sacrifice your future just so the Celtics can get back to the conference finals one last time?
This would be a tunnel vision trade. A season ago, Boston would have had to give up much more than just Jaylen for Lillard. A year from now the Blazers would have to give up much more than a 32 year old Lillard for Jaylen.
3. This is not a KG situation where you're adding a 3rd star to pair with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen
First of all, as much as I've always loved Lillard, he's no KG. Garnett was of a one of a kind superstar. Lillard's greatest strength on the basketball court is scoring, which also happens to be the strength of the majority of NBA stars. But besides the point that Lillard isn't KG, what made that 2007-08 team come together so quickly is because you had 3 stars, not 2. If Stevens could trade for Lillard to play with both Tatum and Brown then that would be a comp. But that's obviously not the case if you're trading away one of the Jay's.
4. Lillard's contract will pay him close to twice as much as Jaylen's per year which will mean a worse supporting cast
You have to play 5 players at a time and you need a rotation of at least 8 healthy, solid players. This isn't 2 on 2 NBA Jam where a Tatum/Lillard combo would be fantastic. If you're paying Lillard close to $50 million a year, there are collateral damages. The extra $20 million a year you will be paying Lillard over Jaylen, won't just mean having to unload a Daniel Theis for nothing, or even a 1st rounder like in the Kemba/Horford trade.
The Celtics not only would have a much harder time adding a 3rd star with the cap gymnastics they would have to perform with Lillard/Tatum than with Tatum/Brown, but you'd lose some very good players due to having that much money tied up to two players. Marcus Smart, Time Lord, and Evan Fourner are three players looking to get paid this offseason or next. You'd lose out on those type of players who are currently on your team or you'd want to add.
The Celtics don't have bad or stingy owners, but they also don't have an ownership group that will just pay whatever luxury tax is needed to have the best team on the floor. They have their limits. So that extra $20 million a year will be deducted somewhere.
5. Do we really want to rely on another small guard in his 30's?
Brad Stevens just gave up a very valuable in asset in the 16th pick in this coming draft to unload Kemba Walker's contract for another bad contract in Al Horford. Love Big Al and would have definitely done the deal straight up, but he is unquestionably still overpaid. Stevens kicking in the first rounder shows just how much Boston wanted to rid itself of Kemba Walker and his contract.
Lillard is a better player than Kemba was when Boston signed him in 2019 and a much better player than he is now in 2021. But Lillard like Kemba and Isaiah Thomas is a small, lead guard that needs to be the #1 offensive option on your team. He can be the #2 option and while he won't put up as good numbers he'd still be very solid. Even Kemba this past season when he only played with one Jay excelled offensively as the 2nd option. His numbers the final month of the regular season were great.
The issues with Kemba were that production wise he takes a big dip when he's relegated to the 3rd option and the future of his knee. That's why Boston wanted out of his max contract (still considerably less than Lillard's). Kemba was an ironman prior to his Celtics tenure. Gordon Hayward as well. How confident are we that Lillard will hold up throughout his 30's? If he starts to break down, good luck finding someone to take on the long term contract of a small guard in his 30's who makes close to $50 million a year.
Boston traded one 1st rounder (Pick #30, Desmond Bane, NBA All-Rookie 2nd team) to dump Kanter. And then traded a much higher 1st rounder ( Pick #16, TBD) to dump their undersized, scoring point guard Walker
6. It likely wouldn't be just Jaylen Brown
We have only one trade to judge Brad Stevens on, which is the Walker/Horford deal. I find it hard very anyone to say with much certainty that Brad won that deal, until draft day when you see who we could have drafted at #16. Most of the people that liked the deal don’t care about the 1st rounder because it has no face. If the 1st rounder was Time Lord, Pritchard, or Romeo, maybe they'd think differently. Last draft Boston traded a 1st rounder to dump a contract as well. That 1st rounder Desmond Bane made an All-rookie team. We certainly could use Bane now. Shoot, he'd be a solid asset to trade for Lillard!
Every "rumor" I read about a Lillard to Boston trade includes other names in addition to Jaylen. Seen some that were Jaylen and Marcus, Jaylen and Time Lord, Jaylen and BOTH Marcus and Time Lord, Jaylen and first round picks, etc. I'm telling you, a year from now, any team that wanted to trade for Jaylen wouldn't be able to get him for just a 32 yr old Lillard; they'd have to kick in considerably more. Trading Jaylen plus more for Lillard is the type of trade you regret for years. Those faceless picks people severely underrate can come back to haunt you. Lillard, Tatum, and Brown were all faceless draft picks the Nets traded for Pierce, KG, and Gerald Wallace.
And whether you like Smart or Time Lord or not, both are good players who have value. They could either help your team on the floor or by trading them for something else that would.
Fun fact: Prior to Nets trading picks that would become Jayson Tatum & Jaylen Brown, they traded the pick that would become Damian Lillard for Gerald Wallace (who they soon had to trade a 1st to dump).
Be careful what u wish for when tossing in faceless future 1st round picks.
7. You'd be handing over complete control of the Celtics to Jayson Tatum
Many might be thinking, "Huh? Is this a bad thing?" While Tatum is under a long term contract, by getting rid of Jaylen Brown, you'd be handing over complete control of the team's future to Tatum. If Lillard and Tatum don't work, then a year or two from now, you have to worry about Tatum requesting a trade or walking in free agency. If Lillard and Tatum don't win a title in the next two seasons, you'll hear constant chatter from the media and on a social media that Tatum isn't good enough to lead you to a title.
Tatum's not going to want to stick around to deal with that even if Lillard is still excelling in his mid 30's. No he will demand the Celtics add another star or he'll walk. But will the Celtics even have the assets to get Tatum help, especially if they keep trading future 1sts. The Bucks had to trade all those future 1sts for Jrue Holiday to convince Giannis to stay. The Clippers had to trade Shai and all their future 1sts to convince Kawhi to sign. And now Kawhi might just walk anyway.
If you have two young stars in Jaylen and Jayson, one player doesn't hold complete control of the team's future. If for example the pairing isn't working in a year or two, you have two ways you can go: Trade Jaylen for a different stat to pair with Tatum. Or trade Tatum for a different star to pair with Jaylen. You at least have options. A Jaylen and Donovan Mitchell pairing in Boston doesn't sound so bad. And pretty sure you could get Mitchell plus something else from Utah for Tatum.
If you hand over complete control of the Celtics to to Tatum, you are then forced to potentially make player personnel decisions moving forward that will adversely affect the team to appease him or he could walk and you'd be left with just an old Lillard making $50 million on a year and nothing else.
8. If you sacrifice Jaylen to add Lillard, you eliminate yourself from contention for the next star that becomes available
Do you like the thought of Donovan Mitchell, Ja Morant, Zion Williamson, or another young star on the Celtics playing with Jayson Tatum? Or do you dream of them playing in Boston with both of the Jay's? Well if you trade Jaylen for Lillard, for starters the dream scenario of a young Big 3 dynasty is out. But also all those players are out. Once you trade Jaylen, you've shot your shot. It better have been for the right star to lead the team to multiple titles.
Because with no Jaylen to trade, when the next star becomes available, who might be a better fit due to age and game, you're all out of ammunition. If you are going to break up the Jay's you only have one chance. Once you bet on Lillard, that's it. There are no more future potential lottery picks to trade. So if you decide to trade Jaylen, it’s a wrap. Your stars will be Tatum and Lillard and unless you decide to trade Tatum you're out of play for anyone else you may have dreamed of. And truth be told the above stars wouldn't agree to re-sign with a Boston team where they'd have to carry the full load all by themselves and/or they are poor fits next to an older Lillard.
Only one Celtic called out Kyrie Irving on using racism as his "crutch" to settle a personal score with Boston and the Celtics and that was Jaylen Brown. Only one Celtic was willing to step to Marcus Smart as Jaylen Brown did after a playoff loss to the Raptors in 2020. Who knows what Jaylen could become as a leader. My guess is he'd absolutely thrive leading the Blazers.
I don't this current Celtics team is in position to be giving up toughness and leadership. We have enough players that are afraid to say anything critical about Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant during the playoffs for fear they might not get a hug after the series is over.
This team needs more mental toughness. Not only did Jaylen Brown have an All-Star campaign this past season, but he was probably the most consistent Celtic numbers wise. Check his stats for each game.
The Celtics were very inconsistent from night to night this past season. You saw it. I'd tread carefully in giving up Jaylen Brown for anyone, let alone a player seven years older who makes twice as much.