- Kevin Garnett ($21.2 million)
- Ray Allen ($10 million)
- Jermaine O'Neal ($6.2 million)
Whether or not those guys retire isn't really relevant to the Celtics or any possible trade partner. What is important is the fact that they represent $37.4 million in cap room that will open up this summer - enough for two maximum-level contracts - in a free agency market featuring:
- Deron Williams, PG
- Steve Nash, PG
- Eric Gordon, SG
- OJ Mayo, SG
- Landry Fields, SG
- Nick Young, SG
- Gerald Wallace, SF
- Nic Batum, SF
- Ryan Anderson, PF
- Kris Humphries, PF
- Michael Beasley, F
- Dwight Howard, C
- Roy Hibbert, C
- Brook Lopez, C
- JaVale McGee, C
Now I understand that not everyone on that list is a maximum-level contract guy, but there is a lot of money to be spent on players in the upcoming summer.
Part 1: Gutting the Warriors
Let's be honest. The Warriors are not going to do anything this season. They are currently 11-17, four and a half games back of a playoff spot. They've been a major disappointment, to say the least. It's obvious that the Steph Curry/Monta Ellis experiment isn't working. Let's try to find them a new identity. An easy way to do that is to have them sign some guys from the list above.
In order to go after these big-name guys, the Warriors are going to have to shed a lot of cap room. Here's a trade that could do that:
- Warriors receive: PF Kevin Garnett & C Jermaine O'Neal
- Celtics receive: PG Stephen Curry, PF David Lee, C Andris Biedrins
If it seems like Golden State is getting the raw end of the deal, they are. Maybe throw one of Boston's picks into the trade too (they have all of their picks in the near future as well as a first-rounder from LAC and second-rounders from five teams spread between now and 2017). Golden State is going into the trade with one goal: cap room next summer. Garnett and O'Neal represent $27.4 million of just that.
Boston also would be making a major change here; they'd be going from The Big Three And Rondo to a team of younger guys: Curry, Lee, Biedrins, JaJuan Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Brandon Bass. If you're wondering where Rondo plays into that, I'm glad you asked. He now becomes totally expendable (because of Curry) and a prime trade candidate (because he's been clashing with the organization and other teams want him). The new-look Celtics would have a pretty glaring weakness at shooting guard after this year (when Ray Allen leaves), and so would aim for a Rondo-for-shooting-guard-straight-up trade. For example:
- Boston receives: SG/SF Danny Granger
- Indiana receives: PG Rajon Rondo
Both teams shed some unwanted players (Rondo's a headcase and Granger shoots too much). Quick and easy.
Part 2: Signing the Free Agents to San Fran
Season's over. Garnett, O'Neal, Kwame Brown, Nate Robinson, Brandon Rush, and two other no-names are off the books. So now Golden State is going to have $39.3 million in expiring deals, giving them almost $39.5 million to sign players to play around the guys they have left. Oh and by the way that is:
- Monta Ellis, Klay Thompson, and Charles Jenkins in the backcourt
- Dorrell Wright, Ekpe Udoh, and Jeremy Tyler in the frontcourt
Pretty bare, right? Well here's the moves I'd make if I was Golden State GM Larry Riley:
- Attend the NBA Draft. You have weaknesses at point guard, power forward, and center. With a possible lottery pick (I think they finish better Charlotte, Washington, New Jersey, Toronto, New Orleans, and Sacramento, so they're in lottery range), I'd go after one of the many big guys: Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Thomas Robinson, Jared Sullinger, John Henson, The Zellers, or Mason Plumlee. There you go, now one of the three holes is filled for the next four years at least. Now onto free agency. Add a million to the salary cap number.
- Re-sign Brandon Rush for a long time. He's been playing superb. Kid can shoot the lights out. It's really a no-brainer. I picture him getting a slight bump up from his current $3 million a year. Let's say $5 million. Worth every penny. Now you have a rotation of three solid two-guards (Ellis, Thompson, Rush) as well as a small forward who is nice from long range (Wright).
- Get a point guard. Steve Nash is not the play here. He's too old, and we're building for the long haul now. Deron Williams is also probably not the play because he needs the ball too much (and that's Monta's job). We want a distributor and a playmaker. And someone to throw alley-oops just in case we drafted Thomas Robinson from Kansas. I'd go for Raymond Felton. He gets about $7 million for a few years.
- Now we need some big men. A starting power forward and center for sure, and then a backup of whichever one we didn't draft. Don't even bother talking to Dwight Howard - he's an asshole. Throw Hibbert an $8.5 million dollar deal for three years. Overpaying? Yes. But you have the cap room and centers are hard to come by.
- Throw Kris Humphries $7 million per year for two years (it pains me to say that, but the man can rebound).
- For the backup power forward/center spot, be conservative. Here's where you want to get an older guy and sign him to a shorter deal so the draft pick/Humphries/Hibbert/Udoh have some sort of role model. If you can get the elderly Marcus Camby or Chris Kaman for somewhere in the $4-6 million range for one season, go for it. Kenyon Martin is also worth around that price range, but I'd be okay with giving him two or three years. You know what? Let's just go with Chris Kaman for 1 year/$6 million.
Our new lineup:
- Ellis, Felton, Rush, Thompson, Jenkins in the backcourt
- Wright, Humphries, Martin, Udoh, Tyler, and Thomas Robinson at forward
- Roy Hibbert and Chris Kaman at center
I'm not sure if you're allowed to have 13 guys. If you aren't, either send Udoh to the D-League or just cut Tyler altogether. That's a solid young team with a lot of weapons on offense and a solid defense (at least down low). Klay Thompson is 6'7" and I like him on offense - if he can turn himself into a defensive stopper then we're championship bound.
Oh and by the way, here's the new-look Celtics (before the draft and free agency):
- Curry, Avery Bradley E'twaun Moore and Mickael Pietrus at guard
- Lee, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, Sasha Pavlovic and Chris Wilcox at forward
- Biedrins and Greg Stiemsma at center
- They need a small forward in the draft and a shooting guard in free agency - or the other way around.
- Their team is full of young guys and I shouldn't even have to list all of their talent. They just need someone to play shooting guard/small forward like Granger and they're set.