The Boston Celtics ended up being buyers at last month’s trade deadline, acquiring Isaiah Thomas, Jonas Jerebko, and Luigi Datome in trades with the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons.
Prior to those moves however, many people around the league felt the Celtics would be sellers in February. While veteran names like Brandon Bass were believed to be available, a new report indicates that multiple teams made a run at one of Boston’s younger core pieces: Shooting guard Avery Bradley
Zach Lowe of Grantland has the interesting scoop in his terrific column on the state of the Cs.
Ainge loves Bradley and has already answered the question of whether he thinks the 24-year old will be in Boston when the Celtics rise again: Multiple teams offered low first-round picks and expiring contracts for Bradley at the trade deadline, and Ainge flatly refused, per several league sources.
Ainge signed Bradley to a four-year $32 million contract this past summer that may have been a little bit of an overpay in the interim, but that’s likely to change in the next three seasons. With the new NBA TV deal set to go into effect next summer, the salary cap is expected to jump significantly, potentially to $90 million for the 2016-17 season, according to multiple reports.
Bradley will be in his prime and under contract for just $8.2 million in 2016-17, giving the Celtics a cost-efficient starter with a still improving outside shot. Boston is likely to have a significant amount of salary cap room in the next two summers anyway, so dumping Bradley’s contract for financial reasons makes little sense from a rebuilding perspective.
The other component of the reported offers for Bradley were the draft picks. Ainge is always a fan of stockpiling these selections, but there’s limited value in late first-round picks. The Celtics already have up to nine first-rounders under their control over the next five seasons and it isn’t likely there will be room for all those guys on a rebuilding roster in upcoming seasons.
Bradley holds more appeal as a player than any late first-round pick, and taking away another core part of Brad Stevens’ roster wasn’t likely to please the head coach either as he attempted to make a playoff push.
Bradley certainly isn’t an “untouchable” part of the Celtics rebuild, but dealing him for a first-round pick in the 20’s would have just Boston a few more lottery ping pong balls this May and little else in the long-term. For that reason, Ainge looks wise for passing on these potential offers.