Most Boston fans are rightfully underwhelmed at the return the Boston Celtics received for Rajon Rondo on Thursday night. However, the deal is a bit more complicated than it seems at first glance. Here’s a breakdown of the full compensation Boston’s front office managed to attain from the Dallas Mavericks in the dealm and what each piece does for the team moving forward.
Brandan Wright (PF/C)
Height/weight: 6-foot-10, 210 lbs
Experience: 7th season
Notable stats: 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 blocks per game, 4th in NBA in PER (26.18)
Contract: Earning $5 million in final year of contract this year. Unrestricted free agent next summer
How will he help Celtics? One of the things the Celtics desperately need right now as they rebuild is a rim protector, and that’s one thing Wright does quite well. Despite playing just 18 minutes per game for Dallas, he’s averaging 1.6 blocks per game. He doesn’t have the size or bulk of a natural center, but his athleticism is tremendous. There’s more good news here: Wright doesn’t take many shots (mostly alley-oops and offensive putbacks) but he’s very efficient with them. He’s shooting a superb 74.8 percent from the field.
Does he have a future with Celtics? Potentially. The team will get a free look at him in the next couple months, before exploring a couple options. They could trade him again right before the trade deadline to a contender in need of a big man. If they like how he fits on the team, they may elect to hold onto him and re-sign him after this season, since the Celtics did acquire his Bird rights in the deal. Given the lack of effective big men in the league right now, I’m guessing it’s the latter option.
Jae Crowder (SG/SF)
Height/weight: 6-foot-6, 235 lbs
Experience: 3rd season
Notable stats: 10.6 mpg, 3.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 34% 3-point shooter
Contract: $915,243 (league minimum) in final year of contract. Restricted free agent after this season
How will he help Celtics? Boston fans will like Crowder. He’s a scrappy and hard-nosed defender on the wing that saw meaningful minutes off the bench for Dallas in the last couple seasons. He can also help spread the floor with his 3-point shot, which he shoots at about a league average clip. With Jeff Green likely to be moved in the coming weeks, Crowder should get a chance for some real minutes at the small forward spot.
Does he have a future with Celtics? Definitely. As with Wright, the Celtics have an opportunity to deal him, but his cheap salary and youth make him an ideal piece for a rebuilding team. Boston will have to give him a bit of a raise in his next contract, but restricted free agency gives them the right to match any offer.
Jameer Nelson (PG)
Height/Weight: 6-foot, 190 lbs
Experience: 10th season
Notable stats: 25.4 mpg, 7.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 36.9% 3-point shooter
Contract: $2.7 million in first year of two-year contract. Second year is player option at $2.85 million
How will he help Celtics? Nelson’s best days are behind him, and one of the very reasons the Mavericks did this deal was to upgrade from the former Orlando Magic guard who is only shooting 38 percent from the field this year. He’s a minus defender, an average ballhandler, and his size is a detriment. However, he isn’t completely washed up, so he’ll see some minutes as the Celtics showcase him for a future trade.
Does he have future with Celtics? All signs point to no. Nelson’s age and desire to play for a contender almost guarantee this to be a short-lived marriage with the Celtics. Look for the team to trade him to a playoff team that needs a boost to their bench backcourt in February. Celtics won’t get much for him, besides just dumping his salary, maybe a second round pick.
The Draft Picks
The Celtics received a protected 2015 first round pick from the Mavericks in the deal. It’s highly unlikely the Celtics will receive the pick this season, based on the pick protections, since Dallas will be a playoff team.
Sources: Protections on the 2015 first-round pick Dallas sent Boston: Protected 1-3 and 15-30 in 2015; 2016-2020 protected to No. 7.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 19, 2014
Based on those projections, the Celtics will likely get the pick in 2016, giving them four first round selections that year (their own, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Dallas). It’s a calculated move since the Dallas pick would likely be in the late 20’s this year due to their loaded roster. Boston is betting they will be a bit worse next year, when Dirk is a year older and Rondo potentially could be playing somewhere else.
Boston also received a 2016 second round pick from Dallas in the deal.
The Trade Exception
I won’t go into the details here, but a big part of the deal from the Boston perspective is creating a $12.9 million dollar trade exception by trading Rondo’s salary in the deal. With this TPE, Boston will have one year to use the exception to accept a player or players to fill that exception in a deal. There’s no doubt the Celtics will be active on this front next offseason.
Overall, it’s still a pretty underwhelming return for Boston for a star player like Rondo, but some of the individual pieces may have a little bit more value than you think.