With the NBA trade deadline approaching fast, the Celtics have been at the center of a number of trade rumors. The goal for the team is clear: to add a wing player to back up Paul Pierce. What isn't clear is how they're going to go about it. As a championship contender filled with experienced veterans, the team just does not have a lot of enticing trade pieces.
Generally speaking, any contender that's looking to add a piece at the deadline needs one of two things: young players, or expiring contracts. A young player's value is obvious, as it gives the receiving team a chance to develop their talent while their rookie contract keeps them affordable. An expiring contract, meanwhile, can either help to balance a trade economically-which is needed to pass it through the league's complicated rules under the salary cap-or to allow the receiving team to clear salary if they're sending out a player on a multi-year contract.
So who do the Celtics have in those departments?
1) Avery Bradley
2) Semih Erden
3) Luke Harangody
1) Kendrick Perkins ($4.39 million)
2) Glen Davis ($3.30 million)
3) Marquis Daniels ($2.47 million)
4) Delonte West ($1.07 million)
5) Von Wafer ($.90 million)
The issue becomes, who amongst these guys can the Celtics afford to trade? Clearly, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis are out in any realistic scenario, given their huge roles on the team. The Celtics also likely won't trade Delonte West since they're hoping he'll help their troubles on the wing some with his return, and Von Wafer has provided too much to the bench and wouldn't really add much value as an expiring contract anyways.
Luke Harangody hasn't really proved he has much value in the NBA yet. He's had some moments, but the Celtics can't expect to get much of anything from a second round pick who's one of the last men off the bench at the moment.
Avery Bradley, on the other hand, likely represents one of the keys to any Celtics deal. Bradley has always been a guy who needs to be brought along and developed. The problem is that Boston might not be the place to do that with playing time limited. If the Celtics are really going all-in on this year, then they should not hesitate to trade him.
Where things get confusing is with Marquis Daniels and Semih Erden. Both represent some decent value as trade chips. Daniels' $2.47 million isn't that bad for an expiring contract, and Semih Erden has shown some impressive stuff filling in for the Celtics' injured big men. But does it make any sense for the Celtics to deal them?
Certainly, if the O'Neals, Jermaine and Shaquille, can return to action, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room for the young Semih Erden. Between them and Glen Davis, there's just not a ton of minutes left. But let's look at that "if" again. Jermaine O'Neal has been out since early January, and has played in only 17 games all year. With his injury still a factor-he's only had his knee cleaned out, not fixed-it's hard to count on him for much. Shaquille O'Neal has also missed his fair share of games, and hasn't been a guy who can provide a ton of minutes for a while now. Having a backup as capable as Semih Erden for the rest of the season could spell the difference between home court advantage, and having to play the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Miami or Chicago.
Then there's Marquis Daniels, whose place in all these rumors is, at the least, uncertain. The problem stems from the fact that, at the moment, there's no clear indication as to when Marquis will be back on the court. 1-2 months has been the figure passed around, but injuries to the spine are a tricky business, after all. Still, if Marquis is likely to be back come the playoffs, then trading him for anything less than a premium return (such as Shane Battier, who was recently shot down as an option) just doesn't make any sense.
Daniels provides more than just his five points per game, after all. He's the glue guy from the bench-the one who plays solid, and makes everything flow all that much better. He also can provide defensive stops against some of the league's best players when needed. Sure, dealing him for a guy like Rasual Butler might help in the short-term, but come playoff time, when it really matters, the Celtics are going to feel the repercussions.
Unfortunately, that doesn't leave the team with much room to maneuver, but really, that's just how it is with a group in this position. The Celtics can still make a small move without giving up too much and pick up a backup to help them weather the storm until the end of the regular season. But if the team is looking to add an impact bench player, then Danny's either going to have to pull off a big one (Josh Howard, Shane Battier), or likely end up overpaying, caught up in the need to make a move.