It’s been a rough week for the Boston Celtics. After taking the Golden State Warriors to double overtime and following that up with an impressive road victory over the Charlotte Hornets the next night, the Celtics have dropped three straight games to fall to 14-13 and out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings.
It was a yucky week in Boston, to say the least, but let’s put all of that aside for a minute and discuss some potential trade candidates for the C’s.
Yes, the trade deadline is still two months away, but deals can (and absolutely do) happen between now and then. Heck, the Celtics traded Rajon Rondo on Dec. 18 last year and also dealt Jeff Green before the deadline.
Boston has some logjams on its roster, and trades would certainly help clear those up.
Let’s examine some C’s players who could be playing elsewhere by late February.
Of the Celtics’ possible trade pieces, Sullinger undoubtedly has the most value.
He’s a 23-year-old who’s averaging close to a double-double, is one of the best rebounders in the league (total rebound percentage of 20.2 percent) and has improved drastically on the defensive end.
The catch is that Sullinger will be a restricted free agent in the summer, and could end up commanding a price that Boston may not be willing to pay.
While Sullinger is unquestionably skilled and talented, there are caveats to his game.
He’s had some injury issues, his conditioning has always been chastised and his efficiency is also iffy.
Still, he’s young and has plenty of raw ability, so the big man would definitely generate some interest on the trade market.
While Sullinger most likely won’t be fetching the C’s any lottery picks, he could probably get Danny Ainge and Co. a first-round selection from a contender. That may not sound too enticing given that the pick would be in the 20s, but the Celtics may not have much of a choice if they plan to let Sullinger walk. It’s either let him go for nothing, or get something for him while you still can.
Of course, this is assuming that the Ohio State product does price himself out of Boston range, but taking into consideration that Tristan Thompson got a five-year, $82 million contract, that seems like a pretty strong possibility.
Like Sullinger, Zeller will be a restricted free agent in the summer. Unlike Sullinger, he won’t be too costly.
Zeller has found himself glued to the bench for much of the 2015-16 campaign, falling behind Sullinger, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and David Lee on the depth chart.
In the 17 games that Zeller has played, he’s averaged only 1.6 rebounds in 7.8 minutes, so his trade value isn’t exactly at an all-time high.
That being said, the soon-to-be-26-year-old did post 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21.1 minutes per game last year, so he does have a bit of a track record for being somewhat useful.
The fact that Zeller won’t get too big of a contract next summer should also make rival general managers more intrigued at the prospect of trading for him.
Zeller has soft hands and a solid mid-range jumper, but struggles on the defensive end due to his lack of mobility and strength.
Regardless, the Celtics should be able to get something for the relatively skilled seven-footer. Perhaps an early second-rounder?
Turner, the most polarizing player on the Celtics, will be an unrestricted free agent over the summer, and given Boston’s surplus of young combo guards, it’s hard to see Ainge bringing him back for another go-around.
We know the book on Turner. He can fill up the stat sheet, but he’s inefficient, doesn’t have a real position and doesn’t defend particularly well. Still, due to his ability to handle the basketball and create, he could have some trade value.
Remember: the Indiana Pacers traded for Turner in order to bolster their bench midway through the 2013-14 season. The move didn’t exactly work out for them, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see another contender express interest in Turner as a bench piece near the trade deadline in the same way that those Pacers did.
With Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier in tow, Turner will almost surely be shown the door during the offseason, so Ainge will likely try and gauge the market for him between now and February.
Two years ago, Boston traded Jordan Crawford for a decent return. Turner could warrant a similar package.
The Celtics picked up David Lee this past summer, but his stay will almost certainly be a short one.
Lee will be an unrestricted free agent, and at 32 years old, it’s a safe bet that he will not be back in Beantown for the 2016-17 campaign.
Lee still does some things well. He can rebound, pass and hit the mid-range jumper. Of course, all of that is essentially negated by how poor he is defensively, so one has to wonder just how much Lee would get Boston in return.
You also have to take into consideration that Lee is making a little over $15 million this season, so trading him will not be an easy task. It’s not like the C’s can just deal him for a low-key bench player and a second-round pick. They need to match salaries.
Lee could be part of a larger trade as a throw-in, however, so keep an eye on that.
The Celtics acquired Jerebko in the middle of last season, and he played so well that he was able to parlay that into a two-year, $10 million extension in Boston.
Suffice it to say, Jerebko hasn’t sustained his production.
The forward is shooting just 35.4 percent this season, is averaging a mere 2.9 points in 12.6 minutes per game and has fallen out of favor in the rotation thanks to his inability to be effective at either forward spot. He isn’t spreading the floor and he isn’t regularly scoring anywhere else.
For those reasons, finding a taker for Jerebko won’t be so easy.
Sure, the $5 million he’s making per season looks like peanuts with the rising cap, but he needs to put forth some kind of production to justify making even that much money.
The good news is that Jerebko had a decent career prior to this season and is still just 28 years old, so it’s not like he’s over the hill.
Jerebko could probably find a place on a contender.