There have been plenty of lopsided trades throughout the rich history of the NBA — and all of sports to be fair. But in recent times, as NBA franchises have started to hire smarter general managers, these lopsided trades aren’t happening as frequently. However, one team that failed to learn from history was the Brooklyn Nets.
As the Philadelphia 76ers will tell you, Billy King is not the kind of architect you want building an NBA team. But somehow, someway, King got another shot, calling the shots, for a franchise in the Association. And that team would be the aforementioned Brooklyn Nets.
And the team reaping all the benefits is none other than the Boston Celtics. This is because C’s general manager, Danny Ainge, literally robbed the Nets blind in a blockbuster deal a couple of years back involving Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in exchange for a slew of scrubs from the Nets — along with several first round draft picks that ended up being absolute gold.
These first round picks included 2014, 2016 (which was this year’s 3rd overall selection) and 2018 first round pick. But there was another added perk in the deal for Boston: the right to exchange 2017 draft positions with the Nets.
And following today’s news that the Nets lost out on the signings of Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn will enter the 2017 season much like they did the 2016 season which saw Brooklyn win 21 games. Brooklyn was able to land Jeremy Lin along with rookie Caris LeVert thanks to a trade that sent Thaddeus Young to the Indiana Pacers, but losing out on the additions of Crabbe and Johnson will hurt a team that isn’t very talented to begin with. Which means the Celtics will once again benefit big-time from this.
So, what’s this mean for a Boston Celtics team that wants to win now?
Well, after drafting Jaylen Brown and Ante Zizic in this year’s first round, next year’s 2017 swap with Brooklyn gives the Celtics even more ammunition to go after a big-time player — assuming the C’s find a potential trade partner that could net them back a stud player.
Which brings us to Russell Westbrook…
The Celtics weren’t able to land the biggest fish in the free agent pond in Kevin Durant, but were able, however, to reel in a pretty good size fish in Al Horford. The former Hawks player’s agent was pushing for Horford to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder and partner up with Westbrook. That clearly didn’t happen, but could a potential partnership on the Celtics still happen?
Via USA Today:
For years Danny Ainge’s acquisition of assets — countless assets, all of the assets — hasn’t resulted in the superstar he wanted it to. But with a bunch of just-drafted first round talent, including No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown and several stashed European players, future picks (including a pick swap in next year’s draft with Brooklyn, the Nets’ first-round pick in 2018, and the Grizzlies’ first-round pick in 2019), and established talent on affordable contracts in Avery Bradley, Jonas Jerebko, Marcus Smart and others, the Celtics have the pieces to make an offer that is extremely enticing.
If you’re the Thunder, do you listen to a deal of Bradley, Jerebko, Brown, and the Nets’ first-round pick in 2018? You’re getting the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft, a 3-and-D guy in Jerebko, and Bradley, who you can pair with Oladipo in a new backcourt that will be devastating defensively. All that and a future Nets first-rounder.
I’m sure the Celtics don’t want to do this, but they could also turn Jerebko into Jae Crowder in that same deal … and then it becomes very hard for the Thunder to turn that down. (That one I actually think the Celtics would balk at. Westbrook could always leave after the season.)
While there would be a huge risk in trading for a player who could just leave at season’s end, Westbrook might actually be interested in staying with the Celtics following the next year.
Boston would have to get a long-term agreement done with Westbrook before any trade. Acquiring him and risking him leaving next offseason would be a massive mistake. Westbrook might be interested in playing for the Celtics long-term, as they could offer him a chance to help build the team that he wants to play with.
If you’re Danny Ainge and you can land Westbrook for a slew of draft picks including next year’s 2017 swap along with this past year’s third overall pick, Jaylen Brown, you might want to pull the trigger. That would keep the current roster in tact, and you add arguably a top-five NBA player.
I don’t know if the C’s would have to add a player like Isaiah Thomas to make salaries work or even Jae Crowder, but if the Boston could keep Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley to go with Westbrook and Horford, that might be enough to overthrow the champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Celtics would still probably have to add another scoring piece to that equation, but if they could add Westbrook to that nucleus, there is no question Boston would give the Cavaliers all that they could handle.
However, is giving up multiple first round picks, Jaylen Brown and Isaiah Thomas worth a potential one-year rental?
It might be…