Hey gang. Rajon Rondo has torn his ACL. All team animosity aside, it is quite depressing to see yet another young, talented player be sidelined for the season. The East has somehow managed to get even less interesting so at the very least, we may pick trade speculation from the carcass of the Celtics season.
Let us examine the salary structure for the Celtics. Essentially, they are completely and unequivocally, screwed. Danny Ainge made several moves this off-season that may have been well-suited for a team with decent cap space and a core locked in for 3-4 years. Unfortunately, he has a team with no cap space. Furthermore, the Celtic's core was looking awful with Pierce deservedly missing the all-star game and Garnett playing decently, but beneath the all-star level. With Rondo gone, I think that it is safe to say that the Celtics will not contend as long as Pierce, Garnett and Rondo are their three best players.
The specifics their salary structure are as follows: All of their mid-level players are signed to lengthy, sometimes bad contracts. Jeff Green is at 4/36, Brandon Bass is at 3/20, Courtney Lee is at 4/22 and Jason Terry is at 3/16. These are contracts that may be justifiable if you are contending now and plan to continue doing so until 2016. These are albatross contracts if you are not contending and have no hope of doing so in the near future. Green's contract is untouchable (now that MJ has turned over the reins of his front office). Given Terry's drop in production, this is borderline untouchable. Lee's contract may be movable for the right team but it is hard to see anyone investing four years in a player that has clearly reached his ceiling. Bass' contract is decent given his production but it is unclear whether it may be considered an asset.
Thus, the Celtics need to tear down yet they have 4 mediocre players that are locked in for 3-4 years. Therefore, the Celtics have two types of assets which are desirable for other teams: aging veterans on near expiring contracts (Pierce and Garnett) and young talent (Bradley, Sullinger, Melo, draft picks). As the latter of these are precisely what the Celtics need if they are going to rebuild the team around a healed Rondo, I would bet 40 dollars that either Pierce or Garnett are moved within the month in exchange for picks and young talent.
1. Nets: Garnett for Humphries. I could see swapping Garnett for Humphries if Brooklyn included young assets such as Brooks, rights to foreign guys and a future pick (the Nets are pretty bereft of these type of assets). This is a pretty light haul for a future HOF'er that still has a lot of gas in the tank, especially since Humphries still has 2 years on his contract and sucks. Thus, if you are cashing in Garnett for assets, Brooks + foreign geeks + bad 1st rounder is not so hot. However, this works quite well from the Nets standpoint.
2. Houston: Garnett for a bunch for young guys and picks. This is slightly more decent for Boston. They get Chandler Parsons with that enviable contract and Houston has a better collection of draft picks to send over (they traded Dallas' and Toronto's in the Harden trade). Houston really should go into win-now mode and Garnett at PF could get them into the playoffs.
3. Philly: Garnett for Turner and Young + picks. Essentially, Garnett should go to a team that is near contention that really needs a third option. This team must also have assets to send back to Boston. I could see Boston moving forward with Rondo/Bradley/Turner/Green/?. Also, could you imagine a more unlikeable lineup than a pairing of Rondo with Turner? Oh right, the Boston Celtics as currently constructed. Philly could begin pretending to contend with Bynum/Holiday/Garnett.
Pierce may actually be more likely to be moved since his contract is expiring. He would also do best with a contender in need of that extra umph.
4. Golden State: Pierce for Barnes + other crap. Barnes is good but not great. The Warriors are doing very well and could make some noise if Bogut comes back healthy. Add in Pierce as a 3rd option and they could do some real damage. GS would probably have to throw in a pick since Jefferson's contract is not expiring. I would be surprised if this happened but stranger trades have happened (see: Howard, Dwight).
5. Memphis: Pierce for Gay. Memphis saves money. Boston gets a younger player.
Alright, that is enough idle speculation. You guys can probably do better than the five that I just suggested. This is a very complicated scenario with the Celtics in need of both a salary dump and some young assets. The short shelf-life of their two main trade assets further complicates the issue. It is up to BaB to figure this out before Ainge turns around and does something unconscionably stupid.