The trade deadline is just hours away, and the gossip is beginning to boil over. The blockbuster names have already changed teams, but sometimes it’s the smaller, quieter deals that make the biggest difference.
Some of the NBA’s strongest contenders are just one piece away from building championship teams — among them, perhaps, being the Celtics.
Do the C’s need to make one more move? A lot of you guys seem to think so. Let’s explore the options.
Thanks to everyone who submitted questions this week. Hope to see plenty more down the road.
1. What are you hearing about the possible acquisitions of Anthony Parker or Shane Battier? Odds of either one happening?
–LaughAtLebron, via Twitter
The Celtics have definitely had contact with both the Cavaliers and Rockets. They’re in the market for a backup wing guy to put behind Paul Pierce on the depth chart and either Parker or Battier would be an excellent fit.
That said, it’s going to be extremely tough to land either of them. The Celtics don’t have a lot of assets to give up. The Cavs are looking for young pieces they can rebuild around in exchange for Parker, and the C’s might not be a match. They can’t give up Avery Bradley for a two-month rental, and draft picks don’t make great trade chips when you’re likely picking somewhere around No. 28.
As for Battier, the Rockets forward comes with a $7.4 million contract, so the Celtics would have to make a big offer money-wise. It would take multiple veterans, like Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson, to make the salaries match, and there’s no reason the Rockets would want those pieces in a trade right now.
So for a trade? Not likely. Parker has at most a 20 percent chance of landing in Boston, and Battier would be significantly less than that. But if either player is bought out in the near future, keep your eyes and ears open.
2. If you were Houston, would you really turn down two first-round picks, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels and Avery Bradley for Shane Battier? If it’s a 2-for-1 or 3-or-2 trade, the Celtics could also pick up another player after the deadline. Danny Ainge should find a way to make it happen.
If I’m Daryl Morey, then no, I probably don’t turn down that offer. But I don’t hear Danny Ainge making it.
That’s a lot to give up for a two-month rental of a backup forward. If you’re talking about two first-round picks, then you’re talking about their selections in 2011 and 2013, since you’re not allowed to trade future draft picks for consecutive years. With no first-round pick in ’13, you’re making it really tough for the C’s to rebuild then, at which point Ray Allen will be 38, and Shaquille O’Neal will practically be in a nursing home. The Celtics have to be careful not to mortgage their future too much.
Bradley is also a very good prospect. He doesn’t play much now, but he’s still only 20 years old, and the future is bright for him. He was considered by many to be the best overall athlete in a high school class that included John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
The Celtics want to upgrade their backup small forward spot, but they can’t give away too much to do it. It’s a tough balancing act.
3. Would James Posey be a good fit with the Celtics?
Sure! His contract wouldn’t be, though. Posey is owed $14.7 million between now and the end of next season. There’s no way the C’s are paying that much for a backup wing.
It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with Posey in the coming days and weeks, though. Of all the small forwards we’ve been discussing this month, Posey seems to be the one most likely headed for a buyout. He’s not getting any playing time under new head coach Frank Vogel, who clearly prefers to run and gun with the young guys over using the 34-year-old Posey. The veteran has no role anymore in Indiana. He’s played a grand total of 10 minutes in Vogel’s 11 games.
If the deadline comes and goes with no deal from the Celtics, then look for a Posey buyout to save the day. He could be the final piece of the puzzle. After all, he was in 2008.
4. I think the Celtics need a scorer, and Rip Hamilton and Grant Hill are two players who could back up Paul Pierce and score. James Posey and Shane Battier are good role players, but I’d rather have someone who can create offense and handle defending Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and so on. What do you think?
It’s a tough question, Glenn. Beggars can’t be choosers on this market and the Celtics may have to take whatever they can afford. Let’s say you can only have one, either a shooter or a wing defender. Which is more important?
I’d have to say the defender. The C’s have plenty of scorers, with or without a Rip Hamilton type on board. Their second unit in the playoffs will likely include Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Davis and Nate Robinson, which is a ton of offensive firepower already. But having the Posey-type, that guy that can come off the bench and give Pierce a five-minute breather from guarding James, that can be a huge factor in a seven-game series.
Ideally, the Celtics’ next backup small forward would be someone who can do it all: score, pass, defend, you name it. But Larry Bird’s not walking through that door. If push comes to shove, I’m taking the guy who can play some lock-down D.
5. How much did the Celtics pay Rasheed Wallace for his two-season buyout?
The C’s are giving Rasheed $457,239 this season and $491,109 next season to stay away. Not exactly a happy ending for the big man, who had over $13 million left on his contract over the two seasons. He must have really, really wanted his freedom, because that’s a lot of cash to leave sitting on the table.
Danny Ainge tried to shop Wallace around last July, thinking that Wallace’s expiring contract was a key asset. But he got no takers, so he reached a very affordable deal to cut the big man loose and rebuild on the fly. The Celtics signed 11 players this offseason.
6. How high of a priority is it for Boston to try to finish first in the East, in order to avoid meeting Chicago in the semis?
–LaughAtLebron, via Twitter
I don’t think the Celtics are ducking the Bulls, or anyone else for that matter. They’re too good and too proud to think that way. And to say the C’s fear the Bulls is really an unfair slight to the Magic, who have won second-round series in each of the last two postseasons. No one should want to face them, either.
That said, it is a very high priority for the Celtics to win as many games as possible in the regular season. Last year, the C’s succumbed to the injuries and settled for 50-32, and they paid the price. They want to get home-court advantage over as many teams as possible this time around. Catching the Spurs may not be realistic at this point, but the C’s want to have more wins than the Heat, Lakers and Mavericks. In a seven-game series down the road, it might be a huge help.
7. Thinking long-term, as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen get long in the tooth, how will Celtics management counter against the acquisitions of the Miami Heat and New York Knicks?
For the next two years, the C’s are confident that they have the better team. Garnett, Pierce and Allen are all under contract through 2012 (Pierce through 2014), so they’re going to stick with the nucleus they have now for this season and next. The Heat and Knicks will still be gathering complementary pieces to surround their superstars, while the C’s already have a well-oiled machine. For the moment, they’re in good shape.
After 2012, it may be time to rebuild. Allen and Garnett may walk away, and Pierce will be getting on in years. But the C’s will still have Rajon Rondo, who’s a long-term cornerstone, with Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins probably still around as well. Plus they’ll have a little cap space to go out and spend on the monster free-agent class next summer. Dwight Howard, anyone?
The C’s are still in the hunt to win two titles right now. After that, the picture is a little less clear, but we know one thing for sure: Rondo is their franchise player.