After an 8-hour session, my therapist and I decided the only way to get over the Patriots loss was to redirect my attention towards the Green Team and Banner 18. Good timing too, as trade talks are starting to sizzle and Danny Ainge is sure to be making plenty of phone calls. Let’s try and sift through several of these bigger rumors and gauge the Celtics’ potential interest with some buy vs. sell…
Kevin Love (PF, Cleveland Cavs): Now that General Manager Lebron James has finally cut ties with head coach David Blatt, it seems the Cavs could be in for a little transition. New shot-caller Tyronn Lue wants to play a fast-paced, defensive game, a style that doesn’t mesh with Love well at all. Plus, Lebron can’t stand the guy. Do I think they’ll actually deal him this season? Probably not. After watching him more and more over the last season in a half I’m not even sure I want him on the Celtics. He’s SOFT and definitely doesn’t strike me as the alpha dog on a playoff contender… not to mention, what if it takes the Brooklyn pick and/or Marcus Smart? I’m selling this one.
DeMarcus Cousins (C, Sacramento Kings): Cousins is a beast. I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again. 27.3 and 11.3 rebounds a game speaks for itself. Problem is, all of those numbers are finally starting to translate into wins for Sacramento, who now sit in the 7th seed in the Western Conference. The Kings are 6-4 in their last 10, and Cousins has built a solid chemistry with Rondo. Unless something goes terribly wrong over the next few weeks for Sac and they fall completely out of contention, I highly doubt they deal Cousins at the deadline. Have to sell here, this ship seems like it has (temporarily) sailed.
Jeff Teague/Dennis Schroder (PG, Atlanta Hawks): Both of these guys are unquestionably talented, but do we really need another point guard? Between Thomas, Smart, Rozier waiting in the wings, and Bradley (undersized shooting guard), PG is our deepest position. I’m passing on both these guys for the Celts, but they can absolutely help a contender. Sell.
Al Horford (PF/C, Atlanta Hawks): Unlike his teammates above, Horford would fit a need as a well-rounded, fringe All-Star big man. You know what you get from Big Al every night, offensively and defensively. At 29, he still has several good years ahead of him and may be cheaper than expected based on his expiring contract. As the first domino piece to fall, the C’s could do a lot worse than Horford. If Danny can pry him from the Hawks for a medium level package of assets, I think he’d look good in green. Buy.
Blake Griffin (PF, LA Clippers): Never thought he’d be on this list, and truth is, no one really knows if he’s actually available. What we do know is that he’s having issues off the court (punching a manager/best friend??? What?), and now he’s out another 4-6 weeks after breaking his hand while doing so. The Clippers have also surprisingly played more efficiently without Griffin in the lineup. What we also do know is Griffin can flat out ball. He’s still young, and a career 22 and 10 perennial All-Star. Time to open up the treasure chest for this one, Mr. Ainge. Buy.
Danilo Gallinari (SF, Denver Nuggets): Gallinari is interesting to me because I don’t think it will take as much to acquire him as most of these other guys. In the midst of a career year coming off an ACL, and still just 27 years old, Gallinari makes sense from an ability/age/positional standpoint. Just spitballing here, but for something like the Mavs pick (that we own, mid-late first round), Jerebko, Lee, and James Young, do you pull the trigger? I would. That would allow the team to improve while keeping the premium assets on board for another potential deal. Buy.
Gordon Heyward (SF/SG, Utah Jazz): With his smooth game and connection to Brad Stevens from their Butler days, it’s safe to assume there is legitimate mutual interest here with the Celtics and Heyward. A 19.9 ppg, 5 rbg, and 3.6 apg guy thus far this season, Heyward absolutely fits the bill as a “go-to guy” and would slide nicely in the small forward spot, also forming a brilliant rotation with Jae Crowder. Unfortunately, Utah has no glaring reason to part with him, unless a “Godfather offer” was on the table. I would be hesitant to give up this year’s Brooklyn pick, and that’s probably what it would take (and more). If the price is right however, I’m in for this coach-player reunion. Buy.
Pau Gasol (PF/C Chicago Bulls): Gasol is still playing at an extremely high level (16.6 ppg, 11 rpg) and is one of the smarter, best passing post-players in the league. He would fit well enough beside really any of the current bigs on the roster (especially Amir Johnson), but he turns 36 (!!!) in July. Is it worth giving up draft picks and young talent for a guy that may have 2 or 3 years left at most and wouldn’t alone win you the championship? No, it’s not. I like Gasol’s game, but for today’s Celts, I’m selling.
Ryan Anderson (PF/SF New Orleans Pelicans): Anderson is a sharpshooter from 3 (39%), and admittedly would fit Stevens’ ball movement offense well. My question: isn’t he a little redundant with Kelly Olynyk already in the fold and playing good basketball? I’d absolutely rather increase Kelly’s minutes than trade him/give them to this guy. Sell.
It’s not a question of “if” the Celtics make a deal, it’s a question of “when” Danny pulls the trigger and whom he decides to acquire. He has the assets and he has the motivation; he just needs a willing partner. Significant few months ahead for the C’s, what happens next will dictate whether they will be contenders next year (and for years to come) or stuck in neutral again.
Can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Bleed Green, go get’em Danny.