I hear you all screaming.
“TRADE THIS GUY!”
“GO GET THAT GUY!”
You’re frustrated, which is understandable. But it’s not that easy. It never is.
Look… I get it. Guys aren’t playing up to expectations, and for a lot of you, the natural inclination is to say “get ridda tha bum!”… which fails to take into account the fact that people tend to think other teams are just clamoring to pick up guys who suck.
Beyond that, there are rules in the NBA about trades. The Celtics have to adhere to them. And for the C’s, those rules are very strict. They not only have to match salaries within 125% of the outgoing salary, plus $100,000… they cannot exceed $74.3 million in salaries under any circumstance. This is a hard cap triggered, essentially, by giving Jason Terry the full mid-level exception.
The Celtics are at about $72 million at the moment.
DeMarcus Cousins makes about $4 million. So there is some wiggle room in that salary to take back a little more than they give out… but it’s close.
Many execs around the league have the Celtics and Pistons at the top of the list of Cousins admirers, even after this latest episode. The Boston Scenario goes like this: surely Cousins would straighten up and fly right if he was surrounded by winners; if he had Doc Rivers barking in one ear and KG barking in the other, he’d have no choice but to give in to the Mystique.
Still, the Celtics are willing to take the gamble, according to another league source, and embrace the challenge of keeping Cousins on the right path. But if Petrie can’t add any payroll, it’s hard to see a scenario with Boston that would be enticing for the Kings, unless they’re enamored with rookies Jared Sullinger or Fab Melo as centerpieces of a deal.
Including guard Avery Bradley might get a conversation going, but the Cs love Bradley’s two-way game and have imagined him a cornerstone of their rebuild; Bradley’s rapid development the second half of last season before his shoulder injuries put him on the shelf in the playoffs made it much easier for Boston to absorb Ray Allen’s departure.
In a nutshell:
The Celtics best young trade assets are Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger. The Kings could have had Sullinger if they wanted, as could most teams, so the thought that they are so enthralled with his talent that they’ll suddenly give up a significant piece of their own puzzle to get him isn’t very realistic. And I LOVE Sully’s production. I think he can be great for this team. But I don’t think he’s been so overwhelmingly great that teams that passed on him are willing to trade for him now as the center piece of a deal.
And if they’re not going to do that for Sully, they’re definitely not going to do it for Melo, who’s had two great D-League games and eight “meh” games.
Which means Bradley is the guy that the Celtics would have to dangle, and they’re just not doing that. They’ve been dying for him to return. They’re not giving him up just yet.
Oh, and I know what some of you will do… you’ll build it out to add more and more and more players until it becomes a blockbuster. I know this because I already see you doing it in the comments. It’s not going to happen. And it won’t for 2 reasons:
1) The Celtics are in “win now” mode. They’ll try to low-ball the Kings (as they should) but a major blockbuster forces the team to start over, mid-season, with half a new team… when having half a new team is already part of the problem.
2) Major blockbusters don’t happen around guys like Cousins. They happen around superstar players like Chris Paul. And I know Cousins has the ability to maybe become a superstar, he’s not one now. And he’s got too many questions about his attitude on and off the court to make an overly convincing case that he’ll fly right for the long haul.
I hate to burst your bubbles (again), but the Celtics just don’t have the trade bait to land a guy like Cousins. He makes too little money, and a little too much talent, but not so much that you HAVE to put a huge deal together to get him.
Of course, I could be wrong, but my magic 8 ball tells me “All signs point to no” on this one.