Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Celtics are the only team in the upcoming draft with three picks in the first round, and according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, they are looking at ways to trade these selections in an attempt to facilitate a deal for Holiday.
“The Celtics have offered up their three first-round picks (nos. 14, 26, and 30) in trades to try and move into the lottery, but multiple league sources say they intend to reroute that pick to the Pelicans in exchange for Jrue Holiday,” O’Connor wrote in his latest mock draft.
“If Boston is able to acquire the necessary assets, it’d still need to add salaries to make a deal work. Could that mean Gordon Hayward or Kemba Walker could be on the move? No matter the case, the Celtics are up to something big to try and bolster their title odds.”
Let’s talk about this deal for a moment…
First off, one of the great things about Danny Ainge is that he’s a perfect ‘stalking horse‘ for other GMs. He has, over the course of his career, traded just about anything you can imagine for just about anything you can imagine. Huge multi-player deals for a single star, stars for picks, picks for prospects, prospects for picks, filler for underrated guys, and players for trade exceptions.
The Celtics organization is also famously tight-lipped, even when it comes to shooting down rumors that have no particular basis in fact. It helps Ainge’s reputation to have these rumors swirling that he’ll trade anybody for anybody.
And that brings us to Jrue Holiday.
The Celtics can trade Hayward for Jrue Holiday only if Hayward opts into the final year of this contract, and it seems unlikely that he would do this in order to facilitate the C’s trading him to New Orleans. And trading Hayward for Holiday doesn’t make much sense because the C’s don’t have a surfeit of front court talent. In a situation like this, where you’re trading a starter for a starter, there should be a deficiency at one spot and a surplus at the other such that your starting lineup gets better. I don’t know how this would happen in a Hayward-for-Holiday swap.
So Hayward-for-Holiday seems like a non-starter.
That brings us to Kemba-for-Holiday.
This makes the most sense from a strictly on-court perspective: The two players are both starting caliber point guards. Kemba is a better shooter, Holiday is a better defender. They’re about the same age.
However, Kemba is entering the second year of a four year deal. Holiday is entering the final guaranteed year of a contract with a player option for next season. The C’s would be trading for a guy who could walk at the end of the season.
John Karalis also makes this point over at MassLive:
Trading Walker would be a bad look for the Celtics. Walker chose the Celtics and signed a four-year max contract to come to Boston. If the Celtics were to turn around and trade him one year into that commitment, they’d be sending a signal out to the rest of the league that no contract is sacred with them.
Now in both of these cases, the salaries don’t match, so New Orleans would have to send over additional players. The problem for the C’s is that they’re really not in a position to absorb additional players. One way or another additional teams would likely be required to make any starter-for-starter swap work.
Getting salaries to match by other means would be difficult for Boston. There’s a pretty steep drop off in salaries after Brown, Walker and Hayward. Technically, Brown’s salary is close enough to Holiday’s, but there’s no way the C’s would agree to that deal. Tatum is also off limits, meaning that the centerpiece for New Orleans in a trade would probably be Smart. But I think that, in terms of defense, the C’s rate Smart higher than they do Holiday, plus he’s on a more team-friendly deal, and he’s younger.
For Holiday, he’d be entering the last year of his contract as a bench player. One can’t exactly imagine him either exercising his player option for next season or quietly accepting a 6th man role in a contract year.
My seat-of-the-pants analysis is that swapping Holiday for an established starter on the C’s doesn’t work for a variety of reasons and swapping bench players for Holiday basically requires that the C’s part with Smart in order to get a more expensive 6th man who would almost certainly walk next summer.
Ultimately, what the C’s need is bench scoring and Jrue Holiday doesn’t exactly address that need, seeing that they would likely have to trade Smart to acquire him (Holiday was good for 5.2 more points per 36 minutes than Smart last season, but the additional players the C’s would have to include to make salaries match would likely chew up much of that surplus.)
So, yeah, I think this report is either completely unfounded or it’s Pelican propaganda.