By: Ravneet Singh
This trade fits the recent characteristics of trades done this year. The Boston Celtics are getting more draft picks and the Western Conference teams are making moves so that they can improve their team immediately. The Houston Rockets made moves to acquire Corey Brewer and Josh Smith, while the Dallas Mavericks traded to get Rajon Rondo. It only makes sense for a team to make power moves when contending in the West.
Received: Jeff Green, Russ Smith
Talent wise the Grizzlies clearly win this trade. They had to give up two picks, including a future first rounder. One of the early surprises this year in the league was the Grizzlies. They started red hot at 21 wins and 4 losses. However, they would go on to lose the next four games and became just another really good team in the West, while the Warriors continued their hot steak. Hence, might as well change things up. You are never a contender for long in basketball (unless you are the Spurs).
In all likelihood Jeff Green is a better player than whoever they would have drafted in the first round in a few years. The concern with this trade isn’t what the Grizzlies gave up, but how Jeff Green will fit in. If you asked me what position I would see Jeff Green playing in the NBA when he got drafted, I would have said small forward. He was a "tweener" for sure, but because he played with Kevin Durant, who was clearly a SF, he was moved to PF on the Thunder. When he was traded to the Celtics for Kendrick Perkins he continued to play PF next to Kevin Garnett and even after, since the Celtics lacked depth at PF. Recently the Celtics have had plenty of big men and tried to play him more at SF. So let’s examine his shot selection this year from the court, because Green will play some of the 24 minutes Prince played at SF for Memphis.
As you can see Green is most effective in the paint and restricted area like most big men. Interestingly, he is shooting surprisingly well at the left corner 3 point shot, shooting at about 46%. On the other side of the court, at the right corner 3, he is shooting slightly below average at 32%, per NBA.com. His mid-range shooting percentage is about the same, but he should be shooting less of these shots, since Gasol or Randolph are spending most of their time there. It is alarming that Green took over 100 3 point shots not in the corner, because he’s shooting less than 30% from there.
If Green can take most of his 3 point shots in the corner and he attacks the paint, then he can be a vital piece for the Grizzlies in their title run. Thankfully for him, he doesn’t have to be the first or second option in the offense and his shot selection should improve. Also, I am a fan of former Louisville star, Russ Smith. He likely won’t get much playing time with Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih playing well, but I personally believe he can be a good backup point guard one day.
Received: Tayshaun Prince, Austin Rivers, Future 1st Round Pick (from MEM)
Danny Ainge truly believes the best way to rebuild is through the draft. After this trade the Celtics could have potentially eight 1st round picks and six 2nd round picks from now to 2018.
After the trade Ainge said, “I think you have to build through the draft but like last time, we built through the draft, we developed players and we were able to trade to get some veteran guys in that were ready to win that were more compatible with Paul (Pierce) at the time. But we did it through the draft. That’s how I look at it, and right now we’ll do the same thing. We’ll draft players, we’ll develop players, and we’ll look for opportunities to take steps forward.”
There is already talk that Austin Rivers will go to the Clippers to be coached under his son. This makes sense, because there are plenty of young guards that the Celtics already have. Tayshaun is a free agent after this year and that’s $7.7 million off the books for next year. The Celtics are in rebuilding mode. This is the type of trade you made when rebuilding like Ainge does.
New Orleans Pelicans
Received: Quincy Pondexter, 2015 Grizzlies 2nd Round Pick
The Pelicans got the least amount in this trade. In fact, they probably gave up more value then they got in return. I’ve already stated that Russ Smith is good 2nd round talent, who could be a good back-up point guard one day. They got that pick back let’s say, but then they essentially traded Rivers for Pondexter.
Rivers has more upside, but has clearly been a bust so far. Both players are pretty bad shooter. Pondexter is shooting a career low from 3 at 23.3% this year. Overall he’s shooting at 35.6%. Rivers is not much better shooting at 28% from 3 and 38.7% from the field, per NBA.com. Although Pondexter is only costing between 3 and 4 million per year, his contract goes till the 2017-2018. This makes him the longest signed player for the Pelicans. Seems like a long-term commitment for a player who hasn't been very productive nor efficient.
The only bright spot for the Pelicans is that they got a second round pick. This draft isn't really deep, but maybe they can find a better player than they were going to get in Smith. Heck, it wouldn't surprise me if they found a better player than Rivers.