The news that Bucks center Andrew Bogut is on the trade market is therefore tempting for Celtics fans, who would love their team to be able to utilize a true center for the first time since Kendrick Perkins was dealt to Oklahoma City last season.
The indefinite health statuses of Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal may have forced the Celtics, who were already looking to add depth to their front line, to ramp up their search for another big body. Kevin Garnett has played out of position at center since O'Neal went down, and his workload could become bigger if Greg Stiemsma, who reportedly left the Staples Center on Sunday wearing a walking boot, is hobbled as well.
Could the Awesome Aussie bring some relief to the Celtics? In the short term, no. Bogut, who has battled a series of severe injuries since 2010, is expected to miss the remainder of this season with a fractured left ankle. If Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is looking to strengthen the roster for this season — which seems to be the focus — then the Celtics won't bother to look the Bucks' way.
But the Celtics were among the eight teams Bucks beat writer Gery Woelfel named as having interest in Bogut on a radio appearance Thursday. Woelfel put the chances of Bogut being traded at 70 percent, with the Washington Wizards topping the list.
Why would the Celtics be interested in Bogut, hypothetically, in that case? If he can't help Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen win one last championship together, what good is he?
Here's why: Bogut, at the right price, would be a welcome long-term addition to any team. He made an early return last season from a broken right hand and elbow that ended his 2009-10 season, and without full use of his shooting hand he still posted 12.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Bogut is seldom without an injury, but unless he literally can't run (as he currently cannot), he plays.
The attraction of a Bogut deal for the Celtics goes beyond simple basketball reasons, though. Most of the trade partners Ainge has and will engage in trade talks open the discussion with Rajon Rondo and work from there. That makes perfect sense. Why try to trade if you don't first take a stab at getting a team's best player?
The Bucks are one of the few teams that don't need and may not even want Rondo. Brandon Jennings is maddening to watch as a point guard, but the Bucks are reportedly committed to Jennings as their floor general for at least the rest of this season and probably through 2013-14, when they hold rights to a qualifying offer. That's a scary thought for Bucks fans, but it also means the Bucks wouldn't have any use for Rondo, unless they had visions of pairing Rondo and Jennings in a small but lightning-quick backcourt.
Should the Bucks, currently ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, wish to make a playoff push, the contracts line up to swap Allen for Bogut. Allen would bring outside shooting accuracy to a team that is 11th in the league in 3-point attempts but only 15th in 3-point percentage, as well as $10 million worth of contract flexibility after this season.
Bogut would not help the Celtics a lick this season, but he is under contract through 2014. That would give the Celtics two seasons with a core of Rondo and Bogut as a poor man's Dwight Howard–Deron Williams combination (assuming that pairing ever happens).
The rationale for a Bogut deal, not just for the Celtics but for any interested party, is how they feel about Bogut's long-term health. That uncertainty is the only reason Milwaukee is shopping a player of his talents in the first place. The Celtics as currently constructed have won six of their last eight games, and they would run the risk of taking a pass on this season and then watching Bogut do his Greg Oden impersonation for the next two years.
As Thursday's trade deadline nears, names will be thrown around like basketballs in a three-man weave drill. The perfect player will not be available because if he were perfect, he wouldn't be on the market. The Celtics, like every team in the trade market, will weigh whether the flaws are worth the expense.