C's Question of the Day: Which of the Celtics draws the most trade interest?
Which of the Celtics draws the most trade interest?
From now until the start of Celtics camp, we’ll be asking a Question of the Day about the upcoming season. Today: Which of the Celtics draws the most trade interest?
BOSTON – When you look at this Celtics roster on paper as it stands now, it would surprise no one if this crew makes a deep playoff run.
Still, as good as they may be, there’s always room for improvement whether it’s adding more talent or tweaking the talent to generate better chemistry.
A closer inspection of this Celtics roster shows a number of players whose value to the Celtics may be even greater in the eyes of another franchise.
So which Celtics will Danny Ainge be asked about the most as far as their availability via trade?
The idea of trading away the lone returning All-Star after finally adding another one (Al Horford) whose game has yet to appreciably decline, seems unlikely. But in Boston’s quest to win an NBA title, all options have to be given some consideration.
There’s a lot to like about the 5-foot-9 Thomas, who was named to his first All-Star team last season. He is a big-time scorer who scores not only with his jumper but also can get to the rim with the best of them. Last season, he averaged 6.6 free throw attempts per game which ranked fifth among guards in the NBA. Along those same lines, he attempted 11.7 drives to the basket per game which, according to NBA.com/stats, was tops in the league last season.
And then there’s his contract which, among players not on their rookie scale contracts, is easily the most team-friendly contract in the NBA. He is due to make $6.6 million this season followed by $6.26 million in what would be the final year of the four-year, $27 million contract he signed with Sacramento (and was immediately sent to Phoenix as part of a sign-and-trade deal).
So, when he talks about having to bring in the Brinks truck for him when it’s time for him to get paid on his next deal, you can understand where he’s coming from.
That said, dealing Thomas seems unlikely in part because of his contract but also due to the fact that he is the kind of player who while universally respected for his talent, is not a good fit for all teams.
For the Celtics, what he does on the floor and the domino effect that has on those around him, has made this an ideal match for both teams which is why teams may call inquiring about him. But the chances of Thomas suiting up for another team via trade this season are slim.
For many of the same reasons that an Isaiah Thomas trade seems unlikely, they hold true for teams interested in Crowder. He has proven himself to be one of more promising players on this Celtics roster, a player who provides a heightened level of mental toughness on the floor that Boston desperately needed as they continue to transition past the Big Three era of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
He now enters year two of a five-year, $35 million contract he signed in the summer of 2015, which was a tremendous bump in pay. But it pales in comparison to what some other players of comparable or less skills will be making, so you can count on Crowder looking to do an extension of some sort at the earliest opportunity.
At 6-foot-6, Crowder provides Boston with a level of defensive versatility that no one on this roster can deliver. He’s strong enough to guard small forwards or power forwards, but agile enough to hold his own for a few possessions if needed against quicker guards.
The drafting of 6-7 Jaylen Brown will provide Crowder with a legit small forward backing him up this season. Even if Brown shows tremendous growth quickly, that still won’t be enough for Boston to want to trade Crowder.
He has too much talent, provides too many intangibles to discard.
That’s among the many reasons why no deal involving Chicago’s Jimmy Butler ever came close to fruition.
There’s no argument that Butler has a better track record in terms of accomplishments in the NBA.
Butler is a two-time All-Star, three-time member of the NBA’s all-Defensive team and in 2015 was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.
As good as Butler has been as a pro, is he 2 1/2 times better a player than Crowder? Because that’s how much money Butler is making in comparison to Crowder which is why, not surprisingly, Boston would naturally have some reluctance to part ways with Crowder for someone even as talented as Butler.
And that’s why a trade involving Crowder isn’t likely, as well. It would be very difficult for Boston to find similar value and talent that also fits in perfectly in terms of what the Celtics do now as a team and how they envision themselves as a franchise going forward.
A shoulder injury near the end of last season required surgery. The timetable for his return is sometime next month, but could spill into the start of the regular season. Unsure of how he will perform once he’s back on the floor, that’s likely to cool teams off from inquiring about him too much.
But Olynyk is very much a player to keep an eye on in terms of trade possibilities. He has a tremendous offensive skillset when it comes to shooting or putting the ball on the floor. But throughout his time in Boston, he has been inconsistent with his play. Far too often he will look to get others involved when he has the greatest mismatch for the Celtics to exploit. It’s a tough balancing act, for sure. Better recognition is one of those things Olynyk has to get better at.
Because with him, it’s not about whether he’s talented enough to be an impact player in the NBA. It’s about utilizing what he can do, as well as he can and do so consistently.
As the season progresses, there will be some teams like his hometown Toronto Raptors that will recognize all those traits and try and convince the Celtics to part ways with him.
This may be one of the more intriguing players to keep an eye on in training camp. Rozier was an absolute stud this past summer, doing the kind of things that you want to see if they translate to playing with and against better competition.
But the issue for Rozier is playing time, something he did not see much of a year ago in the regular season.
While Evan Turner’s departure certainly opens the door for more minutes this year, there’s no telling how coach Brad Stevens will try and fill that void with what’s clearly a roster with more talent, versatility and athleticism than we’ve seen with this team the past couple of seasons.
Rozier is part of that improved athleticism movement.
At 6-foot-2, he has the quickness and instincts to pressure the ball end line-to-end line, and isn’t afraid to crash the paint and come away with rebounds in traffic, either.
But will he get a chance to get on the floor long enough to showcase those skills?
And if he doesn’t, does it do him or the Celtics much good to sit on the bench or keep making trips to the D-League?
It’s never an easy call to trade a player that you know has enough talent to play but not necessarily with your respective team.
Only time will tell if that becomes part of Rozier’s basketball narrative.