Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 NBA Draft: Are the Celtics and Suns Talking Trade?

The Suns' young nucleus gives them roster and draft flexibility
to move around, similar to that of the Celtics.
Speculation in some places of the internet and sports coverage/reporting world have Danny Ainge passing on a younger player in favor of one with more experience.  Of trying to compete now, instead of investing in a franchise built off three top 3 picks (Brown last year, this year's and next year's presumably).  

While I'm not entirely sure this makes sense, Danny and I have certainly disagreed in the past (see the Perkins/Robinson for Krstic/Green trade of New England infamy), so I wanted to take a look over the next few days at some of the best veteran trade scenarios Danny could and should explore if the veteran route is the way he wants to go.  His first call should probably go to Phoenix.

If you want a roster stocked with talented youth who have some experience playing in the NBA, look no farther than Phoenix.  Really, they're a little bit like Celtics-West, just without the flash in the pan superstar of IT (although Celtics got him from them, so it's their own fault they weren't able to capitalize on his talents like Boston has been under head coach Brad Stevens).

Journeyman sharpshooter Jared Dudley could
make an interesting addition to Boston's roster.
However, if you don't look at their records and just compared them piece by piece:
  • good future picks (Boston has better, but Phoenix has a couple nice ones).  
  • Best player is their middle of his prime PG on both teams (Bledsoe/IT).  Boston's is slightly better/
  • Both teams feature aging and overpaid centers (Tyson Chandler/Al Horford). Boston's again is slightly better.
  • Several other young talented pieces (Booker, Chriss, Warren, Len/Brown, Smart, Rozier, Young, Mickey) Here, the Suns win out again., primarily due to Booker.
They're a bit similar.  It kind of makes you wonder just how far Boston would have made it in the Western Conference this year, but I digress.

While it makes for an interesting comparison between teams, it doesn't necessarily make for the best trade partners.  Trade partners are usually better made between teams moving in opposite directions, trying to turn the other's mistakes into their own successes.  With the Celtics and Suns being on roughly the same timeline and path in terms of roster building, like I said they just might not make the best pairing.  But there are a few pieces I could see the Celtics wanting to target in at least a pick swap, if not an all out trade.

In his prime, Chandler was a key contributor to
a championship team in Dallas, and could bring
that experience and leadership to the Celtics.
Tyson Chandler
Despite definitely being on the downside of his career (he'll be turning 35 at the start of the season this year) Chandler is a guy who could potentially help the Celtics out immediately off the bench, giving them a defensive presence on the interior, and a rebounder (he averaged 11.5 last season).  He could even potentially start, allowing Horford to slide down to his more natural position of the 4.  I'm not sure that's a lineup the Celtics want out there a lot (the league is moving towards smaller, faster lineups, not bigger, older, slower lineups) but he helps solve a lot of their current issues.  His contract ( 12.4 million) might make it difficult, but Amir Johnson is almost certainly leaving, and that frees up the cap room he used, which is roughly the same.  While Chandler wouldn't be involved in a straight up player for pick trade, he could definitely be part of a pick swap perhaps?

Jared Dudley
Dudley is another target for a potential pick swap.  At 6-7, the forward has reliable range and can help spread the floor.  While the Celtics attempted the third most threes in the league last season, they only ranked 14th in 3 point percentage, and could use an upgrade on outside shooters if they plan to continue jacking them up.  Dudley also has a big contract at about ten million, but the Celtics could move Zeller (about 8 million) and offset most of it.

Devin Booker
Now here's the real prize on the Suns' roster.  Can the Celtics pry him away?  It might be worth trying.  The Celtics not only have this year's number one, they have the Nets' pick next year which will likely be pretty good, and they have several picks in 2019 (LAC, MEM, their own at least right now) as well as a guy like Crowder, or Bradley who they could potentially throw in.  

Booker is widely considered one of the league's top prospects
under 25.  He had a career night against Boston last year, could
he line up FOR them sometime down the road?
Booker had the best night of his life against the Celtics this past season, dropping 70 points on them, catching the attention of everyone in the league, not just the front office in Boston.  At 6-6, and a guy that can hit an outside shoot, or get to the basket and create on his own, he's exactly what Boston (heck, what every roster in the league) needs.  Lining him up between IT and Brown next year would be a very good 1-2-3 to build around.  Add Horford in the front court, and you've just got to find yourself someone to clean the glass.

The Celtics could either offer the first straight up for Booker, or throw in additional picks later that weren't the 2018 Nets' pick.  They could also potentially offer BOTH Nets' picks, plus Bradley and Crowder in what would amount to a pick swap this year, plus Booker, as they get both the third overall and the young shooting guard back.

I think that scenario works for both teams, giving Boston both a young roster and one that can compete now, while giving Phoenix not only the best player in this year's draft, but likely a top 3 pick in next year's draft as well, which they could potentially turn into a Luka Doncic, replacing Booker on their roster a year later.  Bradley and Crowder would give them a starter for this year at the 2 (Bradley), and one of the most team friendly contracts attached to a hard working defensive minded forward that can hit the three in Crowder.

I think the end proposal for Booker would look something like:
Boston gives them:
Nets' 2017 (1st overall) and 2018 first round picks
2019 LA Clippers first round pick
Avery Bradley
Jae Crowder

Phoenix sends back:
Devin Booker
2017 First round pick (3rd overall)

This could work out for both teams, what do you think?

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