After a busy month of trading in January, the Celtics rumor mill had been relatively quiet over the past couple weeks. As the Feb. 19 trade deadline approaches, it appears the team’s dealings are about to heat up again, this time with a potential unexpected target for Danny Ainge.
Zach Lowe of Grantland.com has the scoop:
The sense around the league is that you could land [Ty] Lawson or [Kenneth] Faried with a Godfather offer. They are gettable. Boston and Denver have had exploratory talks about Lawson, per several sources. Denver isn’t dealing Lawson unless it gets a bounty in return. The C’s have a thousand draft picks, two big trade exceptions, and a bushel of interesting young guys. It’s unclear how interested they really are, and dealing for Lawson now would bring the risk of a semi-unwanted playoff appearance. Boston will not include Marcus Smart in any Lawson deal.
The targeting of Lawson comes as a bit of a surprise, since the belief across the region was that the Celtics would be sellers, not buyers, at the trade deadline. Names like Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton or Tayshaun Prince were expected to be moved out to help create more playing time for the youngsters on the roster. However, it’s been widely reported that the trade market for those veterans has been soft due to their high salaries and Ainge’s asking price.
With the prospect of dealing away veteran pieces looking uncertain, a long-term upgrade to the roster appears to be on the table for Boston’s front office by acquiring Lawson. At 28-years-old, the point guard is still young enough to be a part of Boston’s future and is signed to a relatively team-friendly contract for the next two years, earning $12.4 million in 2015-16 and $13.2 million in 2016-17. Lawson is averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 assists per game this season.
Knowing the issues the Celtics may have attracting free agents to Boston this summer in the midst of a rebuild, landing a promising piece like Lawson could be a nice proactive move by Ainge to improve the team’s core ahead of free agency. However, sacrificing future draft picks for a 28-year-old guard, when the Celtics have Marcus Smart developing at the same position, will surely make the team’s front office think long and hard about making a serious offer in this situation.