With the NBA’s trade deadline of Feb. 20 fast approaching, the Boston Celtics look to be one of the most active teams in the market and there are a number of players who could be on the move within the next couple of weeks. We’ll break down some of the most likely candidates, take a look at them individually and see where they could possibly end up. We start with Jeff Green.
Jeff Green entered the 2013-14 NBA season with great expectations. Fair or not, the fans, the media and perhaps the team expected the 27-year-old forward to become the focal point of the Celtics’ offense as a go-to scorer in the absence of the departed Paul Pierce. Green appears to have all the ability to raise his game to the next level, his versatility allows him to play anywhere from the shooting guard position to power forward, he has a nice shooting stroke and the ability to be a high level defender, but it appears that the expectations may have been too high for a player that is a jack of all trades, but a master of none.
Green is averaging 16.3 points per game this season to go along with five rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 threes per game. The 6’9” forward has three seasons remaining on his four-year, $35.2 million deal, with a player option in the final season. Danny Ainge showed a tremendous amount of faith in Green, signing him to that contract after he missed a full year with heart surgery and while he has not exploded to stardom, Green has been a steady contributor and has nights where he looks like an absolute superstar. The Celtics appeared to be trying to transition from Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, but it appears Green may be better suited to a supporting role and not the heavy investment the Celtics have made in him monetarily and on the court.
Why They Would Trade Him:
The Celtics were one of the worst teams in the league until Rajon Rondo returned to the line-up and despite taking some time to get in a groove, the team looks to be far more competitive with Rondo on the floor. It is unlikely the team pushes for a playoff position at this stage but an extra 5-10 wins to the season total could mean the difference between a top three draft selection or one later in the lottery. With the star talent at the top of the 2014 draft, Ainge may decide to move some of his veteran contributors to allow the young players to gain experience and to ensure he maximises the chances of the Celtics gaining a top pick in the upcoming draft. The Celtics have always liked Green, but they may not longer be able to make that kind of long-term, financial commitment during a rebuild but he is also good enough that he would ensure a few more wins over the course of the season for the Celtics.
Teams That Would Be Interested:
The Bobcats have been a pleasant surprise this season and in the weak Eastern Conference they appear likely to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and may look to add to their roster at the deadline. They have a solid one-two offensive punch with Kemba Walker and former Celtics’ big man Al Jefferson but could use some more consistent scoring and length on the wings if they plan on causing any problems in the playoffs. Green would fit nicely between the team’s two stars and would be able to contribute a solid 15 points a game without the pressure of being the focal point offensively. The Cats have the expiring deal of Ben Gordon as well as a number of nice assets to use if the teams were to look at making a deal for Green.
The Nuggets have had a disappointing 2013-14 campaign thus far, losing Danilo Gallinari and potentially Javale McGee for the remainder of the season. Denver is looking to make the playoffs but in a tough Western Conference their record of 24-23, just over .500 won’t get it done. They have some solid pieces in place with the likes of point guard Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried, but could use another reliable scorer at the forward position in the absence of Gallinari. If they want to make the playoffs this season, adding Green’s versatility alongside Chandler on the wings could greatly improve their chances and they have a number of young players the Celtics may be interested in such as Quincy Miller or Jordan Hamilton. Disgruntled point guard Andre Miller’s contract would provide almost enough to get a deal done and would save the Celtics money while potentially adding a young prospect or two.
The Rockets are aiming to become one of the Western Conference’s powerhouse teams and have gone all-in on their quest to become an NBA championship team. The Rockets have a 33-17 record and while impressive, that still has them fifth in the Western Conference and without home court advantage in the playoffs. If the Rockets truly want to contend with the game’s elite teams, they will need to add a final piece or two at the deadline to ensure they have time to gel and strengthen a team that already has the ability to compete with the best. The Rockets currently have Omer Asik sitting on the sidelines, but the big man has requested a trade and despite a lot of talk he still remains in Houston. Danny Ainge has shown interest in Asik this season and perhaps the two teams can work out a deal closer to the deadline. Green’s ability to play the three and the four, shoot the ball from outside and compete with some of the West’s elite wing players may be the best offer the Rockets get for the disgruntled big man.