This is actually a trade that I had predicted among many friends (although not on this blog so it doesn’t count, I hate myself). But Celtics fans need to calm down.
Paying $5 million for David Lee, which is basically what they did by swapping horrible expiring contracts, is totally find, and I liked the idea of it dating back to this season.
But there are a few problems with the idea that “Trader Danny did it again!!!!’, the first of which is pretty minor but the final two which are more important. First, they didn’t get an asset along with Lee, even a 2nd round pick or something like that, which you’d hope for considering how much this trade helps the Warriors financially. The Warriors couldn’t stretch Lee’s contract over the next 3 years because Lee’s contract was signed before the new CBA, which also shows how stupid that rule is, because why would you make a move that allows them to get out of a contract that was signed after and not before? If the amnesty rule is for contracts before, why is the stretch rule for after? But anyway, they can stretch Wallace and pay him $3.4M over the next 3 years each, and it won’t hurt as much next summer and the one after when the cap rises. So instead of paying Lee $15.4M, they’re paying Wallace $3.4 this season, and with the escalating luxury tax rules, the Warriors may save up to about $40 million this season because of this trade. When you save a team $40 million, you’d like to get some kind of future asset for that.
But whatever, a trade can be good without something.for the future. But here’s where C’s fans are really kidding themselves. David Lee isn’t that good anymore. He just isn’t. Not only can he not play defense, which takes away from the worth that his traditional statistical measurements would suggest, but he was a shell of himself last year, and the NBA has moved away from his game. Guys like him, who aren’t exactly athletic, play mainly in the post, and can’t play defense don’t rediscover their All-Star form at age 32. We gotta stop kidding ourselves.
And maybe more importantly, because this actually means something that could be a downright negative next year instead of just tempering expectations, he’s probably gonna take valuable minutes. When I wanted this trade to happen a few weeks or months ago, I thought that they would have moved on from at least one of their big guys. Instead, they’ve added Amir Johnson to Sullinger, Olynyk, Jerebko, and Zeller. If the Celtics want to cash in on these guys as assets, they need to be able to play them and show them off. Can’t do that wehn you’re playing David Lee a ton.
So I have no problem with the trade, mainly because I trust Brad Stevens to not be dumb enough to prioritize David Lee’s minutes over any of the young guys’ minutes, but let’s not pretend that this is another sneaky-really-really-good move, like getting Tyler Zeller and a 1st round pick for taking on Marcus Thornton’s contract or trading for Isaiah Thomas.
Two days ago, two different reports came out about the Nets, whose 1st round draft picks the Celtics will have for the next 3 years. ESPN reported that not only do the Nets want to trade Joe Johnson, which is so obvious that you couldn’t call it news, but that the Nets and Grizzlies had specifically talked about a trade. Later, SI reported that both Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young are expected to re-sign in Jay-Z land. Make no mistake, these reports are related and the timing of the two in comparison to each other are no coincidence.
Today, Lopez and Young re-signed for $60M over 3 and $50M over 4, respectively, which sucks for the Celtics. The Nets wouldn’t have had any cap space to do anything without Lopez and young re-signing, as they are already close to the cap with just Johnson, Deron “Paul Pierce’s bitch” Williams, and Jarrett Jack. The Celtics draft in the Nets’ spot in the 1st round each of the next 3 years, and the Nets just assured that they won’t be drafting in the Top 5 barring injuries.
And I don’t think the Nets are gonna find a taker for Johnson. I think this report today was all spin from GM Billy King, whose best asset has been his political skills. Sure, the Grizzlies probably “talked” with the Nets about Johnson, but the talks likely weren’t that serious. Because Jeff Green exercised his player option for next season (interlude: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA JEFF GREEN $9.2 MILLION HAHAHAHAHA), the Grizz are somewhere in the low 50s in millions of dollars on their cap. That leaves them with between $15 and $20 million in space, and they’re gonna wanna re-sign Marc Gasol. (They are not stupid enough to try and replace the starpower of Gasol with the “starpower” of Johnson, luckily.) So rule out cap space as a way for Memphis to get Johnson. Green is the only expendable expiring contract of any significant money on the Grizzlies roster, meaning that they don’t have enough to trade for Johnson, which would require them sending about $16-18 million, I believe, in order to take him back.
The Grizzlies probably won’t get him, and we need to hope that no other team trades for him. if he gets bought out for anything close to his full salary, then that’d be even better, because the Nets swallow the cap space without getting his services of actually playing basketball.
The fact that the Nets likely won’t be able to trade Johnson can be either good of bad. On one hand, even if they traded him, they’re still more than $30 million over the cap, so they wouldn’t have cap space even if they dumped his entire contract on some idiot, which is already a pipe dream. Keeping Johnson would give the Nets his services, however, and he’s not terrible at basketball by any stretch of the imagination. On the other hand, trading him for nothing just to save a few bucks would hurt the Nets in the win/loss column, so we should hope that they’re cheap.
What I’m like 1% worried about is the Nets finding a team who would love to take Johnson’s contract just as a huge expiring deal and give back overpriced contracts from functional players, which may hurt the Nets’ cap space next year and the year after, but would help them out in the standings next season. That definitely worries me. So this is a huge clusterfuck going forward for the Nets, and the Celtics just have to hope that Billy King screws it up as badly as he did with the Pierce/Garnett trade.
The only thing for sure right now is that the re-signings of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young is not good for the Celtics and their hopes to get a high pick next year. But at least Deron Williams is Deron Williams, Joe Johnson is 34, and Brook Lopez has a huge injury history. They can still implode next season.