Despite a Boston Herald report saying that Celtics trade talks to acquire David West fell through, the Celtics are believed to be close to acquiring the two-time All-Star in a trade with the New Orleans Hornets (as first reported by David Aldridge). Better yet, the C’s are expected to acquire West in a sign-and-trade deal for… wait for it… chuckling at the prospect… the decaying corpse of Jermaine O’Neal, and then offer West a $27-29 million contract for the next three years, a number that’s considerably less than an All-Star power forward (albeit one coming off major knee surgery) is normally worth.
If the deal is completed, Danny Ainge will have turned zero cap space, seven roster spots, Glen Davis, Jermaine O’Neal, some dude name Albert Morales and probably some combination of draft picks and filler guys — in other words, dog poo — into Keyon Dooling, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, Chris Wilcox’s athleticism, Chris Wilcox’s upside, Chris Wilcox’s underachieving, Jeff Green (on a one-year contract that preserves cap flexibility in case he’s as average as he was last season, no less!!!), Marquis Daniels and… drum roll please… a two-time All-Star averaging 20 points per game during the past four seasons combined, with the mid-range shooting proclivity and accuracy to rival Kevin Garnett’s. In the process, I graduated from scared shitless that Ainge would ruin Boston’s cap flexibility in one fell swoop by offering long-term contracts to mediocre players (read: Davis and Green), to completely stunned by what Ainge accomplished with zero resources while still maintaining next season’s cap space. Now, I’m worried only about three things:
1) This deal better go through, damn it.
2) Let’s hope West’s recovery from ACL surgery does not involve eating three boxes of Krispy Kremes per day — which is, coincidentally, the only way West agreeing to a three-year, $27 million deal makes sense. West, need I repeat myself, is a two-time All-Star who should be in the prime of his career if healthy. He’s had a PER of more than 18.8 every season since 2005-06 — or, in other words, for each of the past six seasons, West has been at least twice as efficient as Jermaine O’Neal was last year.
3) David Stern, I know you’re auditioning for the show “America’s Next Top Dictator,” but please don’t squash the deal. It would leave Boston without a single natural center (unless you count Greg Stiesma, a D-Leaguer who has some NBA potential but shouldn’t be expected to make the team, much less contribute), but it would also give Boston an upgrade that would A) make the Celtics legitimate title contenders this season, and B) give the Celtics a nucleus of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and David West heading into a 2012 free agency class in which the Celtics, even if they are bound by West’s contract, figure to be major players. Sign me up.
The difference between the Chris Paul trade and the proposed West trade is this — West wasn’t under contract with the Hornets. They don’t necessarily have to get anything for him. If they can turn him into a couple draft picks and Jermaine O’Neal (who the Hornets would reportedly flip to some other team), the deal is a no-brainer. Free draft picks never hurt anybody. West could easily leave for nothing if he wanted.
If the Celtics do add West, they would presumably have no money left to add a real center.
(Wait. I’m beginning to hear opera music in the background. Andy Dufresne is telling me there’s something inside they just can’t touch: hope.)
The Celtics would still have the mini mid-level exception to spend on a center! In less than 72 hours, Danny Ainge revamped the entire Celtics bench and significantly added to Boston’s future prospects… and he did it WITHOUT USING HIS ONLY REAL ASSET!!! At the risk of repeating myself, Ainge just transformed the Celtics using a power forward Boston didn’t want (Davis), a draft pick or two (or maybe three, who cares), the rights to somebody named Albert Morales, a center whose body was destroyed by termites years ago, the brass balls of a burglar, the creativity of an artist, and the vision of a world-class point guard.
Granted — and this should only be a (very) slight buzz kill, all things considered — the center would probably be someone like Kwame Brown. But it would be a center. And he would be surrounded by a supremely deep roster. And the Celtics would still have cap space after this season. And do you see what Danny Ainge has done? He just hit for the cycle. He scored 80 points. He pitched a perfect game. He threw for six touchdown passes. He scored a hat trick. For 72 hours, give or take, Ainge basically didn’t miss on a single move. Maybe the Celtics should be trying harder to re-sign Delonte West. But at this point, if you’re complaining about that, you’re more spoiled than a batch of eggs left on the counter for six months.
Again, this is all assuming the Celtics acquire West. Even if they don’t, Ainge had a hell of a day. But let’s hope like hell they do.
(Note: I’m busy with work until this afternoon. If news comes out in the meantime, I’ll try to have my brother cover it. If not, follow me on Twitter @CelticsTown.)