Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Final Verdict: Bruins Should Pay up for Loui Eriksson

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that Loui Eriksson’s low number for his contract extension would be either 5 years, $32.5 million ($6.5M per year) or 6 years, $36 million ($6M per year).  Based on Darren Dreger’s tweet above, that seems like the baseline for Eriksson and his agent.  If that’s what it would take, I can’t figure out why the Bruins wouldn’t keep their 2nd line left winger.

The fact that the Tyler Seguin trade was a horrible trade has overshadowed in important fact: Loui Eriksson is a damn good NHL hockey player.  Don’t just look at his line of 23-25-48 in just 63 games this year, because you’ve no doubt already heard the accompanying stat of his 17.2% shooting percentage this season.  That shooting percentage is admittedly a great point for the argument that says the Bruins should lean towards trading Eriksson, which I call the Danny Ainge argument: His value as an asset is being overrated right now in his contract year when he’ll turn 31 right after free agency opens next year, so sell high on that asset.

What that argument overlooks is how awesome Eriksson’s complete game is, not just his heightened scoring numbers this season.  Check out his fancy stats (“Advanced stats” is boring, I’m primarily going with “fancy stats” going forward, but I refuse to write it as “#fancystats.”) over the course of his career.  The first 45 games of this season that he’s played are all that Behind the Net gives us, but his individual fancy stats are listed here, and they also paint a pretty picture.  Eriksson has a Corsifor% of over 53% with just a few more offensive zone faceoffs than defensive zone faceoffs, has played both right and left wing this season, and has played the most minutes of any Bruins forward this season.

Last summer, the Bruins let Carl Soderberg walk because they couldn’t pay 3 centers the total dollars that they deserved on the open market.  Soderberg has proven to be a worthwhile acquisition for the Avalanche, but he was not thought of as nearly the player that Eriksson is thought to be now.  Soderberg may play the more valuable position of center, and he was about 15 months younger during free agency than Eriksson will be this summer but you know you’d take Eriksson for the next few years, even with his significant concussion history.  Soderberg got 5 years, $23.75 million ($4.75M per season) from Colorado.  If you can get Eriksson for 2 extra years and $1.25 million more per season, that’s a much better contract when stacked up against Soderberg, especially with the cap likely rising by about $3 million.

The counterargument that I understand the most involves the Bruins’ cap situation.  Don Sweeney signed Adam McQuaid to a deal that pays him $2.75 million for the next few years (WHY????????!!!!!!!!!!!!), and Dennis Seidenberg is still getting checks for $4 million a year through 2018.  Marchand — and maybe David Pastrnak — will likely be extended this offseason, and Krug, Trotman, and Morrow will all be RFAs this summer.  Having said that, Chris Kelly’s deal finally comes off the books this season, and the Bruins have Tuukka, Bergeron, Beleskey, and Krejci locked up for several seasons after this one at reasonable prices, and they also have Chara and Hayes locked up for the next 2 seasons after this one at a relatively low total sum, and they have many young players who could make a jump to the NHL on cheap ELC deals in the next few years, led by their trio 2015 1st round picks.  They can afford to pay Loui Eriksson.

Make no mistake about it, signing Loui Eriksson to either $6 or $6.5 million per year will make the Bruins pass on a few other players in the next few seasons.  These deals aren’t done in a vacuum.  But you pay for the studs and figure out how to get a decent cast of role players without overpaying any of them.  Loui Eriksson is a stud, and his asking price is not too high by any means.  Unless the Bruins can get way more than expected for Eriksson — which is unlikely such a deal probably would have happened given the flurry of trades that have already happened — the Bruins should keep their star winger.

Are the Bruins the Weirdest Team in the NHL?

zdeno chara

Tonight, the Bruins lost to the damn Columbus Blue Jackets.  You know, the Blue Jackets who are last in the Metropolitan Division and sit only above the Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference.  Before that, they beat the Dallas Stars with a furious comeback in the final period and a half, and the Stars are the best team in the West right now. (The Blackhawks are 1 point ahead of the Stars, but the Stars have played 2 fewer games.  That’s 1st place to me.)

This is what the Bruins have been doing all year.  They lose the games that frustrate the hell out of you and make you think, “Yeah, well, that’s why we knew they weren’t a real contender this season.”  Then they put a beatdown on great team, and you think, “If they get some help on the blue line at the trade deadline… you never know!”  Most of these great wins against quality competition have come on the road, which only adds to the surprise.  The Bruins are 20-7-3 on the road this season, which is bested by only the mighty Capitals.  They’ve beaten the Lightning, Panthers, Canadiens, Islanders, Penguins, Blues, and now Stars by 2 goals on the road this year in a game.

The last time that the Bruins had a better record on the road in a season was the 2011 season, which you’re more then welcome to use as a good omen, but more importantly demonstrates the fact that the Chara-era Bruins haven’t been a great road team.  Even during the 2014 Presidents’ Trophy season, the B’s earned that title mainly by boasting an absurd 31-7-3 record at the TD Garden.  This season, their record is not only better on the road, but their road/home records are light-years away from one another (43 points in 50 games on the road compared to 27 in 50 at home).  This B’s team’s home/road splits are so different from that past B’s teams that it’s not even funny, only adding to the unpredictability of this season.

This year’s team is different from the Bruins of years’ past in multiple other ways, as well.  For one, the group of forwards are much better than the defense.  The Bruins’ blue line had been overrated for a little while now because of the defensive system they play and the fact that they regularly put guys like Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the lineup, but it was never this.  In 2011, for example, the team had a Norris Trophy winner, good 2nd defenseman, decent 3rd-4th guys in Ference (when he was still good) and Boychuk (when he had become good but wasn’t great yet), and a “good enough” 5-6 combo of Kaberle and McQuaid (the only time in his career when McQuaid actually deserved to be the 6th defenseman for a contender).  Now, it’s Chara, who’s still very good but not closer to what he was in 2011, and a bunch of a guys who are slotted either 1 or 2 spots too high on the depth chart.

At the beginning of the season, the Bruins let us know that this would be a wacky season.  They opened by losing 3 straight by a combined 9 goals, won 6 of 7, lost 5 of 7, then won 5 in a row.  Through the 60 game mark, I can’t think of another team in the league who’s as weird as they are.  The only other possibility is the Predators because of their streakiness for spurts during the season, the Ryan Johansen trade, and the fact that they’re contending while Pekka Rinne has a .906 save percentage this year.  But they can’t match the craziness of the Bruins this year, not with the way the Bruins make us wonder whether or not they can tie their own skates on day and give us hope for another Stanley Cup the next.

The good thing about high variance teams?  The highest point of that variance is pretty damn high.  They still need major help on defense at the trade deadline, but if they somehow pull that off, it wouldn’t shock me for the Bruins to commence a hot streak when the postseason starts and make a deep playoff run.  Or, they could get swept in the 1st round by a combined 10 goals in 4 games.  Neither would shock me in the slightest.

Checking in with (the Draft Pick of) the Dallas Mavericks

dirk 2

Celtics fans have been busy checking the Nets box score after every Brooklyn game this season, but it’s also important to keep an eye on each game the Dallas Mavericks play.  The Celtics own the Mavs’ 1st rounder this year as well, and while the Nets are unfortunately trending upwards in the standings, the Mavs are not.

The Mavs overachieved to start the season, and they’ve banked enough wins to sit at 29-26 heading into their first game after the All Star break.  Despite that mark, they are tied for 14th in the league with a dead even net rating.  They played better earlier in the season, which means that number has been trending down, and they needed a lot of luck such as Deron Williams’ miraculous 3 pointer to win a game against Sacramento that caused me to write this column about how aggressively the Celtics should go after Boogie Cousins.  .

The best case that Celtics fans can hope for is that the Mavericks barely miss the playoffs, which is unlikely but in play, thanks to the fact that Daryl Morey couldn’t find a taker for Dwight Howard.  The Marc Gasol-less Grizzlies, Mavericks, Jazz, Trail Blazers, and Rockets all sit within 5 games of each other, and they’re playing a game of musical chairs to determine who will be the one left out.  My money is on the Grizzlies because Marc Gasol is just that good and they traded Courtney Lee.  The Mavs are just 2 games above the 9th place Jazz, and if they do fall out of the mix, it’ll be a sizable difference between the pick they’d get if they finished even in 8th seed.  The Eastern Conference is surprisingly better than the West when it comes to the bottom 4 teams in each conference, and if the Mavs are the 9th seed in the West, then there will probably be 1 or 2 East teams who miss the playoffs that have a better record than the Mavs.  That means that Dallas could get the 13th or even 12th pick just by missing the playoffs, while they would be guaranteed no better than the 15th pick if they got the 8 seed.  If they fare better than that, they could get the 18-20 pick.  Big difference between 12 and 20.

While the Brooklyn pick is by far more important, the Dallas pick’s fate may actually hinge on each game more than the Brooklyn one.  The Nets are likely going to wind up with the 4th best chances at the #1 pick, which I dissected in my column that I linked to in the first paragraph, because the pathetic Suns are tanking.  An extra loss for the Nets probably won’t change their fate, but an extra loss for the Mavs will almost surely wind up making a difference in what pick it is.

Essentially, make sure you check the box scores of each Mavericks game, just like you’ve been checking the box scores of the Nets games all season.  The latter is more important, but the former is more volatile.

Checking in with (the Draft Pick of) the Brooklyn Nets

brook lopez 2

The Brooklyn Nets are a complete joke, but unless your name is Mikhail Prokhorov, you already knew that.  The problem for the Celtics, though, is that Brooklyn’s spot for May’s draft lottery.

The Phoenix Suns called the Nets’ incompetence and not only raised, but went all in with their effort to be an embarrassing, sad excuse of a basketball organization.  Sir Chuck agrees.  The Suns now sit at 14 wins, identical to the Nets.  Unfortunately, given tha thte Suns now have every incentive to tank and the Nets have every incentive to win, the Suns will likely finish below the Nets in the standings.  They join the Lakers and 76ers as the 2 teams who will likely finish below the Nets in the standings.

The good news is that the Minnesota Timberwolves won 3 of their final 4 games before the All Star break to pull to 17 wins, and the 3 game difference between the T-Wolves and the Suns/Nets is a massive one for teams as pathetic as these.  Also, the Timberwolves are responsibly building a team with veteran leadership galore, as opposed to a team like the 76ers or the Suns.  Can you really see KG allowing for the T-Wolves to tank for a third of the season?

After that, no other team has fewer than 20 wins.  Assuming Minnesota doesn’t implode, Brooklyn doesn’t go on an incredible run, and New Orleans or Milwaukee doesn’t suffer a collapse of epic proportions, the Nets will give the Celtics the 4th best chance at the #1 pick.

Of course, now that they’ve traded Markieff Morris, the Suns may improve their locker room culture enough to become a real basketball team again… ah screw it, who am I kidding?  I recently heard a stat on the Dunc’d on Podcast that will tell you how bad the Suns are now.  In clutch situations — defined as within the final 5 min of a game in a 5 point game or less — since Eric Bledsoe went out for the year, the Suns are 55 points per 100 possessions worse than their opponents.  That’s so bad that it’s almost impossible.  The Suns play the Nets next Tuesday in Phoenix, and if the Suns pull that one out, there’s a small chance that they’ll finish ahead of the Nets.  But don’t hold your breath.

The team to root for, shockingly is… the Lakers!  Believe me, I hate rooting for the Lakers more than anyone, but if the Suns finish worse than the 11 win Lakers, regardless of whether or not the Nets do as well, that’s huge for Laker haters like ourselves.  The Lakers lose their pick if it falls outside the top 3, and if they go into the lottery with the 3rd slot, it’s way more likely that a single team will jump them than if they finished 2nd and we needed 2 teams to jump them.  In short, the Suns had better go one of two ways: Either suck enough to finish behind the Lakers, who might try their hardest down the stretch because they want to honor Kobe.  Or, they need to  do well enough that they finish better than the Nets.

Trade Deadline: Final Predictions

We’re about a half hour from the deadline, which means that we’re probably about 90 minutes from the final announcements of trades.  The Celtics haven’t done anything yet, but Trader Danny pulled off the Isaiah Thomas trade last year with 2 minutes to go, so we’re hopeful that he’ll pull the trigger again.  Around the league, there are quite a few players who were involved in a million rumors that may be moved in the next half hour.

Here are my final predictions for what happens, and I’ll be sure to let you know whether or not the trades are based off logic… or absolutely nothing at all other than my own (probably false) gut feelings.

  • Dwight Howard stays.  The Rockets are headed for a disaster with Dwight, because nobody wants him, Daryl Morey won’t pay him a 5 year deal starting at $31.3 million, and teams won’t see the value in pulling off a sign and trade for him that will necessitate them giving Dwight that same contract.  My prediction is that Dwight stays through the deadline, then bolts somewhere else in the summer on a 4 year max deal with no compensation for the Rockets.  Daryl Morey breaks down crying at the next Sloan Conference in Boston.
  • Pau Gasol goes to Sacramento, then gets massively overpaid in the offseason: Rumors last night suggested that the Bulls like Ben McLemore, the Kings like Gasol, and the Kings might even be willing to decrease the protection on the Kings’ 2016 pick that the Bulls already own.  If that happens, then it’s a done deal.  The Bulls have had a disappointing season, but getting a pick that’s basically guaranteed to be in the 8-12 range is a huge pick-me-up, especially for a UFA.  The Kings keep their pick if it’s in the top 10, but if that was changed to 7 or 8 — plus the addition of McLemore in the deal — then there’s no way that the Bulls say no.
  • Horford stays, Teague goes to New York: The Hawks love Al Horford and were clearly hoping that some team would overpay for Horford in a trade.  But just like with Howard, teams don’t wanna pay Horford the full 5 year deal, even if the max is slightly cheaper than Howard’s next deal.  If you’re the Hawks and you can barely get any good players, why not keep one of the few great players that you’ve ever had and hope to get lucky next year?  As for Teague, I have no idea what the Knicks have to offer, but I think they’re gonna sell every asset they have other than Carmelo and Porzingis.  They’ll be happy to sell their future for a point guard.  They’re the Knicks, after all.
  • Celtics get Kevin Love: This one is totally baseless, but Danny Ainge is high on Love.  My complete guess is centered around the fact that Love isn’t working in Cleveland, and we know that Danny Ainge has been high on Love forever.  There would definitely be a 3 team trade involved here.  Wouldn’t it make complete sense for Danny Ainge to strike a deal on the one guy who everybody assumed he had already passed on, instead of the guys that we keep hearing rumors about?  That would be the most Trader Danny thing ever.

Jerod Mayo Retires After 8 Seasons

jerod mayo

A staple of the New England Patriots linebacking core since 2008, Jerod Mayo has decided to hang up his cleats.  Mayo announced via Instragram that he and his wife had decided that it was time to move on in life, and Patriots fans should be just as thankful to Mayo for his 8 years of service as he said he was to Patriot Nation.

For the past couple seasons, Mayo has been much closer to a role player than the defensive star that he used to be.  Given all the firepower on the Pats’ defense today, it may be difficult for you to remember that Mayo was one of the only good players on that side of the ball for the Pats for a few years.  On the 2011 team that made a run to the Super Bowl despite the 30th ranked defense according to DVOA, Mayo and Vince Wilfork were the only great players on defense.  Devin McCourty had an off year, and the only reason that Sterling Moore became an AFC Championship Game hero was that the Pats were starting Sterling freaking Moore on defense.

After he went down against Cincinnati in October 2013, Mayo turned into a shell of his former self.  He missed the majority of the season again in 2014 after suffering yet another October injury, and it wasn’t a good sign that people were saying by the end of the Pats Super Bowl season, “The Patriots have only had Ridley and Mayo suffer season ending injuries among their significant players, and that’s not bad at all!”

In 2015, Mayo played every game up until the AFC Championship game, but he was the clear afterthought of a linebacking core that included Hightower, Collins, and Freeney.  When even Freeney seemed to be a better option thatn Mayo, or at least 90% of the player for 10% of the cost, the writing was on the wall for Mayo.  He wasn’t gonna return for the 2016 season unless he took a MASSIVE paycut.  It seemed obvious that the Pats would cut Mayo and his $11.4 million cap hit, thereby only being stuck with a dead cap hit of $4.4 million that could be spread out over 2 years.  Mayo would sign a higher contract with some dumb team who would overpay him for his twilight years.  There would be no hard feelings with his departure, but Bill Belichick isn’t dumb enough to pay a guy based on name alone.

Instead, Mayo added to the reasons that Pats fans should love him.  He decided to retire, which saves New England the $4.4M in dead cap money.  The $4.4M sum may not seem like a lot because every important free agent will cost much more, but it means a ton to a team that will see Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, and Malcolm Butler hit free agency next March.  Jones and Hightower will probably sign extensions that will lower their 2016 cap hits, but now Belichick can use some of that $4.4M to work in an extension for Butler, for instance, that would raise his 2016 cap hit but keep the 2017 cap hit lower than expected.

Mayo’s departure is a blessing for the Pats.  He was going to leave anyway barring a giant and unexpected paycut, and now BB has more room to work with.  Mayo’s tenure with the Patriots had many bright spots, and it’s only fitting that his retirement is yet another one for number 51.

What’s the Most You’d Trade for Dwight Howard?

dwight howard

I’ve written before about how the Celtics shouldn’t trade for Dwight Howard under any circumstances.  He’d be a horrible fit in Boston, and the Celtics shouldn’t go anywhere near the price that Daryl Morey would demand.

(As much as I hate to pander to the TL,DR crowd, I understand that you may not care for 600 words on this.  Scroll to the final paragraph for my final decision.)

Hypothetically, though, what’s the absolute most that you’d give for Dwight Howard?  I wouldn’t trade anyone on the Celtics roster other than Jordan Mickey and obviously David Lee.  Howard would play out the final few months of his contract in Boston and then likely leave for some softer city to match his soft personality, and it’s not worth it to give up any other player who might be a part of the next Celtics championship team.

If you throw in draft picks though, this stupid conversation gets kind of interesting.  I wouldn’t trade the Philadelphia 2nd rounder that the Celtics have this year, because that’s gonna be #31.  Early 2nd rounders are underrated assets in the NBA, and none other than Daryl Morey loves them like Dwight Howard loves missing free throws.  That one is too valuable.  This June, the Celtics also have the Cavs’ 2nd rounder, the Heat’s 2nd rounder, and the more favorable of the Grizzlies and Mavericks’ 2nd rounders, in addition to their own.  I would trade any single one of those for Dwight, and so here is the line of demarcation.  A 2nd rounder in the 40s is the highest I’d go for Howard.  If you want Jordan Mickey in the deal, then it’s gonna have to be Cleveland’s 2nd rounder, which should be number 57.

If you want a 1st rounder, though, I’m not giving up any of the C’s 1st rounders that they have over the next few years.  I just puked in my mouth when I thought of dealing one of the Brooklyn picks for Howard.  I wouldn’t trade the Mavs’ pick, which might climb up to 15 or 16.  I wouldn’t trade the C’s 2016 1st rounder because the C’s should either take a rookie to get better over the next few years or trade the pick for someone who isn’t a complete punk on the court.

I thought of the Memphis 1st rounder that the Celtics are probably gonna get in 2019, but that has a chance of being in the top 10.  Let’s say that the Grizz play out the string with Gasol and Conley on long term deals, and then both of those guys start to wither by the summer of 2018.  That could definitely leave the C’s with a top 10 pick.  Can’t give up that type of pick for a punk who would wilt with the pressure in Boston.

So here’s my final offer:  Celtics 2019 1st round pick.  By that point, the Celtics should be in the thick of their contending years, relegating that pick to number 26-30.  It’s way down the line, and they’ll have a ton of young guys in the system by that point.  And the new CBA to come in 2018 might make rookie contracts less appealing.

That’s my final offer, Daryl Morey.  Take your pick, I insist.  Either the Celtics own 2019 1st rounder, the Celtics, Heat or Grizzlies/Mavericks 2016 2nd rounder, or Jordan Mickey and the Cavaliers 2016 2nd rounder.  I’m sure that Dwight would actually be worth such low assets; he could provide some interior defense on the way to an Eastern Conference Finals run… and then leave this summer.

In case you can’t tell, I really, really don’t want the Celtics to trade for Dwight Howard.

Celtics Have Legitimate Chance at East’s 2 Seed

People don’t realize how good the 2016 Boston Celtics are.  Sure, they’re not a championship contender without a historic trade at the deadline, but they’re 6th in point differential, 7th in net rating (and 3rd in the East for both of those stats), and 3rd in defensive rating.

Despite the fact that the Toronto Raptors rank above the C’s in point differential, net rating, and the overall standings, don’t be shocked if the Celtics beat them out for the 2nd seed of the Eastern Conference.  There are 2 main reasons that I say that it’s a distinct possibility.

The first and most important reason revolves around the trade deadline.  The Raptors are just below the line of contention, and even if they beat the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals, I don’t see them beating anyone out West.  Their shrewd GM, Masai Urihi, only cares about championships and evaluating everyone as assets, similar to Danny Ainge.

DeMar DeRozan is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he’ll be eligible for a 5 year deal that starts at $25.3 million in the 1st year.  That’s a lot of money for a guy who will be 27 by that point and only had a single season at this level — in a contract year.  DeRozan is from Los Angeles, and the odds of the Lakers not offering him every penny they can are about the chances of Bill Belichick ever working for the Jets again.  Uriji might realize that he can pinch the Lakers in a trade and swipe D’Angelo Russell and other pieces from the Lakers.  After all, since Dr. Jerry Buss’ death, his version of Sonny and Fredo Corleone have been running the Lakers, and I could totally see them giving up way too much for DeRozan.  Uriji might be smart to move on him.  It’s highly unlikely, of course, but it’s not out of the question.  In that case, the C’s would clearly usurp the Raptors.

Even if DeRozan doesn’t get traded, I expect the Celtics to make a move at the deadline to bolster their already formidable roster, which leads me to my 2nd point:  The Celtics are damn good, and they’re built for the stretch run.  From now until April, the Celtics will face multiple teams who either are resting their starters, have given up on the season, or are facing injuries.  Boston, on the other hand, has depth on depth on depth.

The Celtics are built for the later points of the season, and that’ll come in handy when they’re chasing the Raptors over the final 7 weeks of the season.  I’m not saying it’s likely, but they’re only 4.5 games back.  Don’t count them out of having home court in the Raptors-Celtics 2nd round series.

Ranking of Celtics Most Likely to be Traded

By Thursday’s trade deadline, the Celtics expect to make a move.  No, that’s not inside information or wishful thinking on my part, those are the owner’s own words.  When Wyc Grousbeck went on Felger and Mazz a few weeks ago, he said that the C’s were unlikely to make a transformative trade, but they were also unlikely to make no deal at all.  It makes total sense for the C’s to pull the trigger on some deal given that they have 10 quality NBA players on their roster, 4 prospects in their 1st or 2nd year that are poised to make a jump in the next 2 seasons, and 8 (!) draft picks in June.  They need to make a quantity for quality trade. Let’s see who is the most likely to be dealt at this year’s deadline.

1. Tyler Zeller

I feel bad for Zeller.  I don’t know what happened to him, and I’m not gong to doubt Brad Stevens for taking him out of the lineup given that Stevens is a) a great NBA coach and b) at practice every day when I’m not.  But it’s still fair to ask, “What the hell is going on???”  Zeller was a key contributor to last year’s overachieving team, and some projections stated that, if Zeller would have been extended last fall, then he would have gotten eight figures per year.  But when this season started, he couldn’t get off the bench.  Zeller and the Celtics need to part ways, and Danny Ainge never enjoys letting an asset go for nothing.  I don’t see Ainge matching the best offer this summer with Zeller’s restricted free agency, and it would be best to move him now.  You know that Ainge will try his hardest to move Zeller in a deal instead of another asset that the other team wants:  “Hmm… I like this deal, but can you throw in Jordan Mickey or a high 2nd round pick?”  “Nah, we like those assets, but how about Tyler Zeller?!”  After Zeller gets traded, don’t even bother reading the analysis of how his name entered the deal, because I just transcribed the conversation verbatim for you.  You’re welcome.

2. David Lee

If this was a ranking of “Celtics players most likely to not be on the team in a week,” Lee would walk away with the number 1 spot.  If he’s not traded, he’ll likely get bought out, and he would have been bought out if not for the hope that the Celtics can trade use his expiring deal at the deadline.  Lee will only get traded if the Celtics take back a guy with a high salary, because he makes over $15 million this season.  If Lee gets dealt, then it might mean that the Celtics made a transformative trade, despite Grousbeck saying it was unlikely.  But there’s also a decent chance that the C’s swap Lee’s contract and some low asset for another expiring, overpriced guy like Roy Hibbert.

3. Jonas Jerebko

Danny Ainge would much, much rather include David Lee’s expiring contract in a trade than Jonas Jerebko’s, but he may not have an option.  Jerebko makes $5 million this season and has a team option for another $5M next season, which makes him all the more of an asset to the C’s.  But $5 million is exactly the type of number that the Celtics will need to throw into the deal to make salaries equal.  For the sake of argument, let’s say they trade for Al Horford and his $12 million salary.  If they throw in a bunch of picks and some cheap young guys, then David Lee’s $15.5M is too much to give back in the deal for the salaries to be equal, unless the C’s get someone else.  But Jerebko’s $5M would work perfectly.  He’s far more useful of a player than Lee, though, and I hope that Ainge can trade the washed up vet instead of Jerebko.

4. James Young

There’s a big dropoff after Lee in the 2nd slot.  Young clocks in at number 3 because he had the highest pedigree coming out of college of the Celtics 4 prospects (Young, Rozier, Hunter, and Mickey), and he’s an extra year into his rookie deal.  Young is still just 20 years old, and he’s more than young enough to be able to sell a team on his future promise.  I could easily see the C’s including him in a deal for a more established player.

5. RJ Hunter

The reason that I’d be apprehensive about trading Hunter is the same reason that a bunch of teams will probably want him: the NBA is all about shooting.  I almost didn’t put Hunter  at #4 because so many teams passed on Hunter in the 10s and 20s in the 1st round of last year’s draft, but Hunter has already shown flashes that he can be a valuable shooter off the bench, at the very least.

6. Jared Sullinger

It’s impossible to know if Danny Ainge is as down on Sullinger as he was last year when Sully couldn’t make weight, but either way, Sullinger isn’t Ainge’s favorite player.  He’s about to be a restricted free agent, and he and agent David Falk will likely demand every penny they can get.  I can definitely see Danny’s value of Sullinger being lower than that of another team who could submit an offer sheet to the big man.  But Danny Ainge knows this.  Nobody is better at determining the value of assets than Ainge, and he may realize that Sullinger could be more of an asset to another team to the Celtics.  If they get a big on the trade front (BOOGIE!!!), then expect Sullinger to be a part of the package leaving Boston.

7. Evan Turner

Before the season, I thought that there was a very small chance of Turner finishing the season in Boston.  He makes $3.4M this season and is a free agent in the summer, so it would make sense that Danny would like the idea of getting something for Turner before he leaves, no?  However, as the season has progressed, it’s become clear that the Celtics need Turner’s shot creation and versatility.  He’s the best creator after Isaiah and is a swiss army knife defensively, even guarding Stephen Curry pretty well in December when Bradley had foul trouble.  Celtics will keep him for the rest of the season unless they make a move that renders him expendable, which is totally possible with Trader Danny running the show.

8. Avery Bradley

I know you all love Bradley, but don’t get too worried.  There’s another big drop off after Sullinger, and there’s not much of a difference between Bradley and the last guy on this list.  I put Bradley here only because the Celtics already have a lot of young guards.  After this season, Bradley has 2 more remaining on his very reasonable contract (about $8.5 million per season), but Marcus Smart, James Young, and Isaiah Thomas all will see their contracts expire at the same time as AB’s.  That might cause Ainge to move Bradley now and create more minutes for the other guys, especially Smart. I could also see another team watching Bradley’s big games against the Warriors — when he guarded Steph Curry as well as anyone else has — and the Cavaliers 2 weeks ago –when he hit a game winning 3 — and targeting Bradley at the deadline because “That’s the type of defense, character, and swagger we need from our guards in the playoffs!”

9. Jordan Mickey

I’ll admit, even by the standards of a column that is totally speculative, putting Mickey at #9 is me throwing a dart at a dartboard.  The Celtics have a ton of big men and 8 draft picks to come in this year’s draft, and Mickey has shown more promise than you’d expect from a 2nd round pick last summer.  Seems like Ainge might sell high on his stock, right?

10. Terry Rozier

Surprises you that Rozier is the lowest of himself,  Young, Hunter, and Mickey, doesn’t it?  Well, there’s no way that Danny Ainge’s stock of Rozier is lower than that of other GMs.  The Celtics took Rozier at #16 last year when no one was even considering him (from what we know), and Trader Danny doesn’t sell low on his prized assets.  If the C’s make a transformative trade (BOOGIE!!!)

11. Amir Johnson

Hard to tell how the Celtics feel about Amir.  They love his defense and rebounding, but he’s often on the bench for long, long stretches during games.  Also, Ainge and Stevens are not the type of dudes who like a 56.4% clip from the charity stripe.  Especially if the C’s get a big man (Do I need to annoy the hell out of you by saying his name again in all caps with 3 exclamation points?), then Ainge might feel like the team has it’s frontcourt core for the next few years.  I don’t know if I’d feel the same way because Johnson has a $12 million team option for next season that can also be traded during the first 2 days of free agency, not to mention that $12 million for a good 3rd big man will be more than a fair price next season.  But it wouldn’t shock me if the C’s move on from their 2015 free agent acquisition.

12. Isaiah Thomas

Only if the Celtics trade for a point guard.  If they do, then expect Thomas to leave town, as much as it would suck to see the undersized All Star leave.  Thomas’ stock is at an all time high, and that’s exactly when Danny likes to trade a guy and capitalize on his value as an asset.  But if the C’s don’t pick up a PG, then there’s no way that Thomas leaves, because he’s too valuable to the offense.  I guess that means that IT is only leaving if Mike Conley or Jeff Teague come to Boston.

13. Marcus Smart

Smart is the Celtics’ most prized asset right now.  He’s a ferocious perimeter defender, and that’s kinda sorta important in today’s NBA.  He turns 22 next month, and if he develops a decent shooting stroke, we could be talking about a franchise player.  That means that another team might demand Smart to be included in a trade if they’re dealing a blue chipper to the Celtics.  I hope and truly believe that Ainge would try to include draft picks, which could turn into nothing if the picks flame out, rather than Smart, who has a floor of a very good NBA player thanks to his defense alone.

14. Kelly Olynyk

The Celtics love Olynyk.  He’s a 7 footer who can shoot 3s in the NBA’s shooting era, and his defense has stepped up this season.  He still has another year before restricted free agency, making him all the more valuable to the Celtics.  The chances are pretty small that another team values him much higher than the Celtics do right now.

15. Jae Crowder

Crowder is a fantastic asset for the Boston Celtics.  He makes just $7 million per year for the next 4 seasons after this one, and some teams may be paying their waterboys $7 million per season by 2020 with the direction that the salary cap is headed.  One of the NBA’s biggest commodities is 3 and D players, and tons of teams want Crowder’s services but won’t get them  I’m honestly not sure if Ainge would trade Jae Crowder for Kevin Love straight up, regardless of whether or not the Cavs would even consider that trade.  If Crowder gets dealt before Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline, then you’ll know that the Celtics got a ton in return.

 

Bruins-Red Wings Game Proves Bruins Need Defenseman at Deadline

bruins red wings

When your team gives up 6 goals and the general consensus is that “Tuukka didn’t play as bad as you think, the Bruins defense couldn’t clear the puck away from the net if they were playing against 5 year olds,” you know your team has a problem.

The Bruins are in desperate need of help on the blueline, and the team has zero chance of being a real contender in the playoffs.  Look at the Blackhawks, Kings, and Bruins as the only teams to have won Stanley Cups in the past 6 seasons, and all 6 of those teams had firepower on defense to rely on in the playoffs.  For the 2016 Bruins, though, Chara is nowhere near his 2011 self and there’s nobody on the Bruins who deserves to be thought of as a true #2 defenseman.  They don’t have the horses to compete in the springtime.

Don Sweeney is the same guy who traded Dougie Hamilton for picks in the offseason, and most of the well deserved criticism of the move came from a future perspective because Hamilton is only 22 years old.  But the trade crippled the Bruins’ blue line for this year, as well, and Sweeney needs to atone for the mistake by making a smart trade for some help.  Outside of Dustin Byfuglien and Keith Yandle, there doesn’t appear to be much on the market.  But that’s why Chiarelli never should have made the Hamilton trade, and he has only himself to blame for a tough uphill climb at this year’s trade deadline.