Monday, November 02, 2015

Celtics Roster Needs A Trim

Please, do not interpret this post as a way too early panic button push by TheBostonInsider.  The issue that I am about to address did not come up because of the first three games but the issue was magnified in the three games.

The issue facing the Celtics is that they have too much depth, something that this space joined many others in covering during the preseason.  To make a long story short, the Celtics have too many bodies and not enough places to put them.

The average NBA team has its five starters and then three or four subs that play significant minutes. Going with a typical eight or nine man rotation allows the players to find their individual rhythms as well as being able to build consistency with their teammates.

Brad Stevens faces the challenge of trying to squeeze together a rotation when he has twelve players that merit playing minutes.  The even bigger issue is that the Celtics really do not have a bona fide superstar so Stevens is scrambling to find minutes and develop roles for twelve players that are all relatively similar in their abilities to positively impact the outcome of a game.

While it's probably too early for Danny Ainge to tinker with the roster, Ainge has never ever been conventional in constructing his team so don't rule out a move quite yet.  The Celtics are expected to contend for a playoff spot and giving away possible wins in November will hurt their seeding come April so I don't think he will wait too long.

One potential trade partner for Ainge may be one of his former employers, the Phoenix Suns.  The Suns are a fringe playoff contender in the Western Conference that, unlike Boston, needs to add some talent to bolster their slim chances of reaching the postseason in the West.  Seeing that they are particularly thin in the post and on the wing, the Celtics could package Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, and Evan Turner to acquire Suns power forward Markieff Morris.

The rule of thumb for NBA general managers is to never give up the most talented player in a trade and Morris is the best of the four but he also has been unhappy with Phoenix after they traded his twin brother Marcus to the Pistons back in July and has pushed for a trade himself.

Phoenix would add Sullinger and Olynyk, two young bigs with potential but who lack the opportunities in Boston to develop.  Sullinger will be a restricted free agent at season's end so the Suns would have a few months of him trying to earn a contract, which they could offer him if he plays like many think he is capable of playing.  Olynyk, who cannot be a restricted free agent until the Summer of 2017, is an offensively skilled 7-footer who needs to find a system where he can play more consistent minutes and get more touches.  Both Sullinger and Olynyk would get the opportunity to play more if moved to Phoenix.

The Suns would also get veteran swingman Evan Turner, a free agent after the season.  Turner played well in his first few months with the Celtics last year in the role of ball handler before the team traded for Isaiah Thomas from the Suns.  Turner lost most of his touches to Thomas and now seemingly has no role in Boston but he could be a nice upgrade for the Suns as a ball handling swingman for their bench.

In return for Sullinger, Olynyk, and Turner, the Celtics would get a talented young power forward who would fit nicely in a rotation along with Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller, and David Lee.  Stevens would also be able to shrink his rotation down to nine players with Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Jonas Jerebko filling the three spots on the wing and rookies Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and Jordan Mickey providing end of the bench depth and hope for the future.

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