As the Feb. 20 NBA trade deadline approaches, it appears that the Boston Celtics, led by general manager Danny Ainge, will be one of the most active teams on the market and as we look ahead to a fortnight of rumors and posturing, I will break down some of the most likely trade candidates on the Celtics’ roster. The first of our Trade Deadline Player Previews is veteran big man Brandon Bass.
Bass, who is now in his third season with the Celtics, has been a steady and reliable contributor not just in Boston but throughout the majority of his nine seasons in the NBA. He is a consistent threat offensively with his mid-range jump shot but also has the strength to bang with the tall trees in the paint. Now 28 years old, Bass is averaging 10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 27.6 minutes this season. He has started in 40 of his 49 games and has shown time and again during his career he is capable of adjusting either the starting role or coming in as an impact player off the bench. He is shooting a solid .476 from the field while his .845 clip from the free throw line is exceptional for a big man.
Defensively, Bass has made significant strides since coming to Boston and has shown in the playoffs he can be a great option against some of the league’s elite forwards. He has significant playoff experience, playing in 54 games including a deep run with the Celtics in the 2011-12 season and could greatly help a young team trying to improve their chances at making, or competing in the playoffs this season. Bass has been nothing but professional during his Boston tenure and while he is not the most vocal player, he leads by example and could be a wonderful veteran presence around younger players. His contract has two years remaining at over $6 million a season, which is a significant amount, but also not unreasonable for the amount of production you get with a player like Bass.
Why They Would Trade Him:
With the departure of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the offseason, the Celtics entered a rebuilding phase that will likely take a number of years to materialise into a contending team again. Bass was the perfect fit as a highly productive role player for the Celtics while they were a veteran, contending team but his role on a rebuilding squad is far less clear. The team has selected power forwards in back-to-back drafts now with Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk and the frontcourt is becoming crowded. If they can find a team willing to give up talented young players, draft picks, cap relief or some combination of the three, Ainge will likely not hesitate to move Bass at the deadline.
Teams That Would Be Interested:
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have had a horror run with injury this season and it appears that they are going to need to find some reinforcements for the second half of the season. They have now lost both Jason Smith and Ryan Anderson from their frontcourt for the remainder of the season and they appear very likely to try and add some depth in the big man department around their young stud Anthony Davis. The Pelicans have a number of young players like Al-Farouq Aminu and Austin Rivers that may interest the Celtics and Bass would seem to be a great fit alongside Davis when he plays the 5 spot and once Juue Holiday returns to run the show at point.
The Suns are probably the most surprising team in the NBA this season and after most expected them to be among the league’s cellar dwellers, they are firmly entrenched in the battle for playoff positioning in the tough Western Conference. They will be relying on the return on break-out star Eric Bledsoe to really drive the team into the postseason but they could really use some experience in the frontcourt to provide a steady and reliable contribution down the stretch. The Suns have a truckload of draft picks up their sleeve as well as the insured expiring contract of Emeka Okafor to work with at the deadline, they will almost certainly look to make a move and the Celtics could conceivably be one of the most likely trade partners with Bass (or Jeff Green, but more on that Thursday).
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers and the Celtics are no strangers when it comes to talking trades. Coach Doc Rivers was sent to L.A. in exchange for a first round draft pick and it appeared a certainty that Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce would end up alongside their long-time coach until the league vetoed any follow up deal as it was deemed to circumvent the CBA rules. There was a ban put in place on the Celtics and Clippers directly dealing with each other but it is unclear as to whether they could still pull off a multi-team deal at the deadline and have it approved by the league. If so, The Clippers would be an ideal landing spot for Bass as they are in desperate need of a reliable third big man in their front court rotation. Bass would provide floor spacing, another target offensively for superstar point guard Chris Paul and Doc Rivers is very familiar with Bass’ game from the two seasons he coached him in Boston.