It’s reasonably safe to say the Boston Celtics are done dealing, which is okay. Danny Ainge has put together a deep team, one that will (hopefully) be able to withstand whatever injuries occur (and, on this team, injuries will inevitably occur). Even if you disagree with the Jeff Green trade, it’s not hard to see why Ainge made the deal (versatility, roster flexibility, faith in the O’Neals — wait, what?). Likewise, adding Troy Murphy made sense. So did the Marquis Daniels trade. The Celtics only received a 2017 (!) second-round draft pick in return, but Daniels probably won’t play another second this season.
One move Ainge made at the trade deadline looks less justifiable: Semih Erden and Luke Harangody for a second-rounder.
At the time, I figured Ainge had a plan for the two roster spots opened by the trade. I envisioned him adding two proven vets, even if the vets’ best days were behind them. Richard Hamilton’s name was tossed around as a buyout candidate, and so was Samuel Dalembert’s. The Celtics could have added Troy Murphy with Daniels’ roster spot, then added two veterans to take Erden and Harangody’s places.
In reality, they added Sasha Pavlovic and “Empty Roster Spot X.” Confusing, I know. (Note: Chris Johnson occupies that spot for now, but I don’t suspect the Celtics will keep him beyond his ten-day contract.)
Erden will not necessarily become a star, or anywhere close to it. He’s already 24 years old, and his PER (10.75) and rebounding rate (12.2) both scream “not terrific.” But still, he’s a rookie seven-footer with potential. Unless you trade him for something of worth, you might as well hold onto him and let him develop. Especially considering how the Celtics have struggled considerably with injuries all season, and Erden provided depth in the frontcourt. If Glen Davis misses any extended time due to his injury, Erden certainly could have helped.
I wrote “unless you trade him for something of worth, you might as well hold onto him and let him develop.” Sasha Pavlovic, by any measure, is not something of worth. The only way Pavlovic ever sees the court (at least, if Doc Rivers understands how bad he has been for the past five years) is if the Celtics experience an onslaught of injuries at the wing. Even then, Von Wafer would seem a far better option than Pavlovic. As would my grandmother.
Even if the Celtics have a different view of Pavlovic than most observers, they could have added him while also holding onto Erden. Cut Harangody, pay the remainder of his $437,604 salary (plus luxury tax), and keep Erden while still adding a roster spot.
Maybe the trade was about money? But, combined, Erden and Harangody made less than $1 million this season, and will make approximately $1.5 million next season. Wyc Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and the Celtics owners have normally been more than willing to pay for winners, and Erden and/or Harangody were hardly out of their price range.
Most likely, Ainge thought the Celtics could add two veterans with the deal, but the buyout market did not pan out the way he expected. Now, the Celtics lost a talented seven-footer with potential (and Luke Harangody), using their two deserted roster spots to add only Sasha Pavlovic.
The Perkins trade is defensible, at worst, and some would even say a very good trade (though only time will tell). But the Erden/Harangody trade? Unless Ainge has another signing up his sleeve, the early returns say: