With all of the trades that happened along with the rumors that spread faster than rumors of a Paul Pierce broken foot, it’s difficult to say which GM’s Danny Ainge seriously sent his text messages to these past few days. The one thing he made clear however: he was looking to deal Ray Allen ONLY if it was for a younger star to keep them in contention now and in the future. I was on board with this line of thought completely but the question is who should they have gone for?
Kevin Martin would have been nice but he doesn’t exactly make me want to petition the Celtics to un-retire Frank Ramsey’s number from the rafters (although if we all lived by the King James Of Akron Bible, #23 would be retired throughout basketball beginning at age 3). Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison would have been amazing, but Mark Cuban and Danny Ferry ruined the party. Monta Eillis would also have been great, but Don Nelson apparently tried to get Ainge drunk enough over the All-Star break by demanding Kendrick Perkins be included the deal. Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert would also have been huge, but AI2’s contract is a bit too rough to swallow. He’s going to be paid like a franchise player that he’s not even close to being. If Ainge is “desperate” and is going all in, then why not make a run at Amare Stoudemire?
Ray Allen, Glen Davis, Tony Allen, Brian Scalabrine, and JR Giddens for Amare Stoudemire and Jason Richardson. Essentially, the Celtics would trot out a starting lineup of Perk, KG, Amare, Pierce and Rondo. Seems a bit crazy but it would have worked and here’s why:
Why it works for Boston:
Amare would help alleviate some of the rebounding issues the Celtics have had, especially by starting those three up front. He is also a big time scorer who can help take some more pressure off of Pierce and KG in the starting lineup, which is something Ray has struggled to do this season. He could have also been a huge insurance policy if KG continues to struggle with his rehab-on-the-fly, or if he needs to sit a few more games over the course of the season. Finally, he isn’t a big man that jacks up threes, so he would have made Sheed’s steady diet of three-point bombs a bit more digestible.
Richardson would have been a big time (and very expensive) scorer off the bench. His defense is relatively offensive, but if he’s ingrained in this system he could have done just fine. He’s not the assassin that Ray Allen is was, but he can score. And while he’s not exactly that “younger replacement player” for Ray that Ainge was looking for, his contract is not a salary cap-noose for 4-5 years (signed through 2011 at roughly $14 mil per). At that point they could have simply cut bait and rebuilt even further that summer instead of having the likes of Martin, Ellis or Iguodala as your co-franchise player, sharing duties with Rondo.
Why it works for Phoenix:
It immediately clears salary cap space for the Suns. They become players in the LeBron/Wade/Bosh bonanza (even more so if Grant Hill and/or Channing Frye decided to opt out). Originally the Suns weren’t looking for much in return for Stoudemire since they were a Steve Kerr drunk text message away from trading him for Big Z’s expiring corpse and JJ Hickson. Hickson is decent and has some potential but let’s not get too crazy here. He’s one of those players that people seem to be over-rating because LeBron is making him look as good as Michael Jordan once made Stacey King and Scott Williams look. Besides, Phoenix would have simply bought-out Big Z (along with all of those DVD’s he’s been peddling in that new LeBron puppet commercial), which means he would have re-signed with the Cavs anyway. So why wouldn’t this deal be better than what the Cavs offered? Unless Miami decides to fold their hand and give up Michael Beasley in their offer, I haven’t read a better one yet. Kerr did however, say that none of the offers he got were good enough.
But it’s only a Stoudemire rental you say? Most likely, yes but by acquiring Amare, they also acquire his Larry Bird rights and can re-sign him even though they would be over the cap. That’s if A) he wants to sign here and B) Wyc Grousbeck is willing to spend some more serious cash for the team AND the luxury tax. If they did re-sign him, it would essentially cost them double due to the luxury tax. I doubt either situation plays out, unless they decided to trade KG at that point, envisioning Amare as his replacement. That situation is highly unlikely.
Therein lies the one downside for what could have been next year’s team. If Amare declined to re-sign with Boston after the season (which is the most likely scenario) then the Celtics essentially would have replaced Ray Allen with Jason Richardson in the starting lineup next year, but they don’t have Glen Davis or Tony Allen coming off the bench. TA is a free agent and could have re-signed here, as could Ray Allen. Although there is always a possibility that Phoenix could have agreed to a buy-out with Ray, and the C’s re-sign him for the stretch run (pipe dreams are fun, and the biggest one is below). With a roster of Pierce, KG, Sheed, Perkins, Rondo and Richardson, the payroll would be roughly $74-75 million for six players (unless they pickup Bill Walker’s team option, which is less than $1 million). That would have given them 7 players plus their first and second round picks for next season. They could have then split the Mid-Level Exception on a couple of players to round out the roster:
- Eddie House
- Marquis Daniels
- Shelden Williams
- Acie Law
- Jannero Pargo
- Leon Powe (if the Cavs don’t pick up his option)
- Malik Allen
- Raja Bell
- Earl Watson
- Rasual Butler
- Marcus Camby
- Craig Smith
- Joe Alexander
- Hakim Warrick
- Steve Blake
- Travis Outlaw
They would basically have to fill out the roster with lower-level, under-the-radar type signings, similar to the Shelden/Quisy deals last summer. But that is not a huge deal because let’s face it, they are not and never were a player in the LeBron/Wade/Bosh windfall. They could be in 2011 however for a serious run at say, Carmelo Anthony.
Melo has an early termination option that summer and the NBA may be headed for a lockout. Once that’s gets resolved who knows what the CBA landscape will look like. The only other big name free agent that summer is Kevin Durant, who is restricted, and is not going anywhere. He’s truly the next great player (alongside LeBron James)once Kobe (also known as the cyborg) finally winds down. OKC should and will extend him for whatever they can so forget that scenario. Carmelo is more of a possibility even if slightly more. By then Pierce’s contract (and quite possibly his game) will have expired, KG and Sheed will be on the final year of their deals (if they’re not limping corpses by then) and most importantly, Perk will be an unrestricted free agent (assuming no extension gets completed). That’s another big positive of the Amare/JRich trade: neither contract hinders their chance at re-signing Perkins in the scenario that he plays out his contract without agreeing to an extension. This gives them flexibility to re-sign Perk and sign Carmelo.
These are all crazy scenarios to be sure, but crazier things have happened. We saw it here in 2007 and we saw it in 2008 with the Grizzlies donation of Pau Gasol to the Lakers. I do know that Ainge is clearly not afraid of making a cannonball sized splash that even Ron Burgundy would be proud of. So Ainge, you should have visited Kerr’s house In Phoenix and jump in his pool cannonball style in the middle of the night to get his attention. I know this deal would have grabbed EVERYONE else’s attention. Alas, Ainge chose to have one more go of it with the core group of 2008’ers, sans Eddie House. With that, we welcome the little firecracker that Nate Robinson is to Celtic Nation.
Krypto-Nate will provide a scoring punch off the bench for sure, but don’t expect him to be the difference maker. The real difference makers are KG’s leg, Pierce’s legs, Ray Allen’s non-burned out legs, Perk’s defensive steel legs and Rondo’s speedy legs. Ainge is doing his best Matt Damon via “Rounders” impersonation by pushing all of those chips to the NBA playoff table. He’s all in, are you?