Boston Celtics fans have long dreaded the day that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would leave the team for good. The day would signal the ultimate slip into irrelevance without the heart and soul that the veterans provided.
According to a report on ESPN.com, a deal has been reached between Boston and Brooklyn that would send both future Hall of Famers to the Nets in exchange for a package of players and picks. The trade marks the end of an era and thrusts the Celtics into a rebuilding effort. Now Boston will be working through the details of their current roster to determine the next step in the rebuilding process.
The trade, according to ESPN, has the Boston Celtics sending Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, and Keith Bogans along with three future first round picks.
Lets start by looking at the players the Celtics are getting back.
Gerald Wallace is currently signed for three more years at $10.1 million a year. That amount is way too high for the production the 31-year-old forward, coming off one of the worst statistical seasons of his career, will provide for the C's. Kris Humphries has a $12.0 million contract that he will be unable to live up to. The contract, however, expires at the end of the year and could give the Celtics cap space or a valuable trade asset.
MarShon Brooks is a confident and talented shooting guard who has shown potential over the last two seasons. He was taken with the 25th pick in the 2011 NBA draft and was subsequently traded by the Celtics to the Nets on draft night.
He has averaged 8.5 points on 44 percent shooting, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 19.8 minutes per game over his first two years in the league. He is still under his very manageable rookie contract for the next three years coming in at only $1.2 million this season, which makes Brooks the most valuable player being sent to Boston in this deal.
Finally, the Nets threw in Kris Joseph at a low salary of under a million dollars, and will sign-and-trade Keith Bogans to make the deal work financially. Bogans' contract will be interesting as the rest of the salaries in the deal would require about $2.2 million sent to the Celtics. However, the current stipulations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as defined by the NBA, would require Bogans to have an even higher salary. A player who is re-signed by their team with more than a 20 percent raise for the purpose of a trade will only count as outgoing salary for 50 percent of his contract.
This rule is broadly recognized as Base Year Compensation and essentially means that Bogans would have to be paid a guaranteed $4.4 million for the first year in the sign-and-trade in order for the Nets to complete the deal. Unless the two teams find a different way to make the salaries work before the trade becomes official in July, the Celtics will be on the hook to pay Bogans a very large contract for one year. The team will, however, be able to cut ties with him before next summer.
According to HoopsHype, the Celtics will have Rajon Rondo ($12.0 million), Jeff Green ($8.7 million), Avery Bradley ($2.5 million), Brandon Bass ($6.75 million), Courtney Lee ($5.2 million), Jordan Crawford ($2.2 million), Jared Sullinger ($1.4 million), and Fab Melo ($1.3 million) returning from last season. The addition of first round pick Kelly Olynyk ($1.65 million reported by Hoopsworld.com) and likely an additional rookie signing ($490 thousand estimated by RealGM.com) will push the Celtics cap hit this season to approximately $70.8 million. The savings put Boston significantly under the Luxury Tax threshold, but don't give them room for any major free agent signings.
The Celtics will not have cap space this season despite saving approximately $6.6 million next year, but a move or two could leave them with cap space in 2014 or significant cap space in 2015. The Celtics could attempt to move the least desirable contract of Gerald Wallace or they could utilize a new provision of the CBA, known as the Stretch Provision, to lessen the cap hit and remove Wallace from the roster.
As reported by Larry Coon of ESPN.com, the Stretch Provision allows for the team to cut ties with a player and spread the remainder of the contract over twice the length of the terms plus an additional season. This would allow the Celtics to cut Wallace and record only $4.3 million against the cap for each season over the next seven years instead of the entire $30 million over three. Boston will have to decide how soon they want significant cap space because utilizing this provision could limit their flexibility in future seasons.
Overall, the Celtics have a number of young assets that can be developed into contributing members of the future roster, or utilized as assets to land the next franchise player. Jared Sullinger, MarShon Brooks, and Avery Bradley are all likely to remain with the team for the near future. Each have strong potential with very manageable contracts that assist greatly in returning a rebuilding team to relevance.
However, the Celtics will need to decide on the futures of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Courtney Lee who have higher salaries and can change the shape of the rebuild. I expect Rondo and Green to remain key pieces for Boston's franchise moving forward. Danny Ainge will likely explore every route to find the best way to accelerate the rebuilding process by acquiring more draft picks or an all-star player.
The final piece of this monstrous trade is the draft pick compensation that Boston received from the Brooklyn Nets. As reported by ESPN.com, the Celtics will receive the Nets unprotected first-round picks in 2016 and 2018.
The Celtics will also receive the Nets or Hawks 2014 pick after the season is completed, due to Atlanta's rights to swap picks with Brooklyn that year. In addition, the Celtics will have the same option to swap picks with Brooklyn in 2017, which could prove to be valuable as the Nets' window to contend will likely have closed by then.
These extra picks will provide the Celtics with two first-round picks in what is believed to be the most promising draft in years, as well as 7 additional picks from 2015 to 2018. With an increased value placed on picks since the adoption of the newest CBA, these draft picks and young assets put Boston in a great position to rebuild through either the draft or the trade route.
The Boston Celtics ended an era with an absolute roster shake up, but Danny Ainge has likely accelerated the rebuilding process by a number of years. The next few weeks will be an interesting time as Boston tries to determine what the next move should be for the franchise, and whether additional changes need to be made before the season starts.
There is also still the chance that Ainge will find an additional team interested in joining the deal to provide Boston with more cap relief or draft picks before the Nets' blockbuster deal becomes official in July. However, even if the Celtics stand pat and evaluate their young roster to determine the most effective way to move forward in the rebuild, Boston has likely saved themselves a number of years on the path of returning to excellence.