The Celts and Grizzlies needed a third team to complete the trade, and so the New Orleans Pelicans are sending former lottery-pick, Austin Rivers, to Memphis in exchange for Quincy Pondexter. The Celtics also completed a trade Friday that will send center Brandan Wright, who came over in the Rajon Rondo trade, to the Phoenix Suns for a conditional first-round pick.
As it stands, the Celtics are set to have at least 14 draft picks over the next two years, six of which would be first-rounders. Danny Ainge is certainly planning for the future, but he cannot build through the draft alone. A marquee free-agent will be crucial to turning around a Celtic team that has struggled in recent years. But if there is a GM in the league that knows how to rebuild a franchise, it’s Danny Ainge.
The Celtics have a very young roster (eight players under the age of 25), and these next two seasons should serve as time dedicated to improving young players, and seeing which guys are a part of the long-term plan. Brad Stevens will coach to win every single night, and this team will have a ton of heart, but this roster is simply not experienced enough to make the playoffs, even in the putrid Eastern Conference.
This trade does however have huge implications on the Western Conference playoff race. Memphis had been rumored recently about wanting to add some wing-depth to their roster. Their main two targets had been Jeff Green and Luol Deng of the Miami Heat. After talks stalled with the Heat, the Grizzlies turned their attention to Green and completed the trade Friday. The addition of Green greatly helps out an offense that already ranked 11th in offensive efficiency. Green will help space the floor, and open up more lanes for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph to wreak havoc on opposing teams. Green was shooting only 43 percent from the field and 30 percent from deep on the season, but with an improved offense around him, plus two very capable passing bigs in Gasol and Randolph, Green should see many more open looks.
Memphis currently sits at sixth in the Western Conference, but only a half game behind Dallas for the lead in the Southwest Division. After both Dallas and Houston added big pieces to their teams in the past few weeks, Memphis was forced to act. The cost of a late first-round pick and Tayshaun Prince is nothing if Green can help Memphis get over that hump, and finally make it to an NBA Finals.
Phoenix, who currently sits in 8th place in the West, also bolstered their roster by adding PER machine Brandan Wright. Wright has always played great in his limited role, but Phoenix hopes he will be the missing piece in their plan to get back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2009-2010 season. Phoenix also only surrendered a single first-round pick in the deal, which seems light considering the fact that Denver received two first-rounders earlier this week in exchange for Timofey Mozgov. At this point, I don’t think Phoenix is done dealing. They have several young assets at their disposal, and Gerald Green‘s name has floated out there in trade rumors.
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