A Trade for Andres Nocioni Makes Perfect Sense for Celtics


October 12, 2009

Chances are that with the Celtics' preseason schedule already underway and the regular season just weeks away from tipping off, the time for offseason roster moves is over. The Celtics have their 12 guys who will take the floor for the team's season opener on Oct. 27 against Cleveland — it's just a matter of picking them out.

But while all may be quiet on the trading front for the time being, that's not going to stop rumors from flying around.

So how about this one? Do the Celtics have any interest in Andres Nocioni, the 29-year-old Kings forward and two-time Olympic medalist with the Argentinian national team?

This one's been floating around out there for a while. The idea first came up back in February, when ESPN's Chad Ford reported at the trade deadline that "we keep hearing all morning that the Celtics were talking to the Kings about a deal for Nocioni." This, mind you, came just hours after Nocioni had been dealt from Chicago to Sacramento in a blockbuster move that gave the Bulls John Salmons and Brad Miller, two key pieces of the team's future playoff run. Apparently, Noc wasn't supposed to stick around for long.

The possibility of the Celtics packaging several bench players into a 4-for-1 trade came up. The Celtics thought about it and then said no. The rumors disappeared, never to be heard again.

Until now. The idea has come up again this preseason, and there are members of the blogosphere on both the Sacramento and Boston sides of the argument plugging a possible Noc-to-Boston deal. And on the surface, it makes sense.

For the Kings, they have to question why they're spending the cash to keep Nocioni around. Noc's deal is good for $21 million more over the next three seasons, plus a team option to bring him back for another $7.5 million in 2012-13, when he'll turn 33 early in the season. It's a rich deal for a veteran player, and the Kings aren't in the right place to make that kind of investment.

Sacramento finished 17-65 last season, the worst record in the NBA. The Kings have young talent on their roster in Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson, but they're nowhere near contending yet, especially in the deep and dangerous Western Conference. The Kings' best hope is to unload their big-money contracts in exchange for some expiring ones, thus giving them a chance to start over afresh next offseason.

The C's can make that kind of offer. In Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine, two of the four players in the deal rumored last winter, the Celtics have a pair of expiring contracts they can use to tempt the Kings.

This doesn't have to happen now. But at some point this season, it makes sense for the Celtics. They could use one more forward on their bench — someone who has the versatility to play the three or the four and is capable of scoring in large bunches. If they get a player like that, they'll have a solid bench forward that frees up more time for Marquis Daniels to play the guard positions. Everyone wins.

Nocioni isn't perfect. His commitment to defense is sometimes questionable, and even though he's potent offensively, he sometimes struggles to create his own shot. He'll never be an All-Star — he's merely an able body who can make a solid backup on a good team.

The Celtics appear to be that team. Don't expect a deal to happen right away — but there's plenty of time between now and the February deadline for a deal to get done. Nocioni in Boston makes too much sense to ignore.

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