January was a busy month for Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge. He traded away two serviceable players in exchange for expiring contracts and extra draft picks. As a result, the Celtics went 2-15 in the month of January. In my opinion that is a job well done for Ainge as the Celtics keep obtaining more and more ping-pong balls for the lottery. Let’s take a look at how the trades involving Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee have panned out for either side.
The Lee for Jerryd Bayless deal turned out to be a win-win for both the Celtics and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Celtics saved over $10 million in cap space and received an extremely streaky player in Bayless. He provides solid depth at the point guard position, but he has not contributed that much so far. This may be frustrating for some fans, but it is perfect in regards to the 2014 NBA Draft.
Apparently Lee needed a change of scenery. He has been on a tear for the Grizzlies. Fans should be happy for Lee; his minutes have increased and he has a much better role on the Memphis squad. With Boston he was only averaging 16 minutes a game, but in Memphis he’s been averaging 30 minutes a game and has even been a starter as of late. Lee is averaging 14 points a game while shooting 42 percent from three and 55 percent overall. He’s had some great games too. Against the Oklahoma City Thunder he scored 24 points with five rebounds and has a pair of 19 point games. Lee has been the perfect fit for the Grizzlies. He brings defensive intensity and has been able to knock down big shots. Since acquiring Lee, Memphis is 9-2 and contending for playoff spot.
The trade that sent Jordan Crawford to the Golden State Warriors has been tricky to evaluate. Crawford was a major instrument in the Celtics’ brief success this season. He was playing tremendous basketball and was even the Eastern Conference Player of the Week at one time. He showed he was an unselfish player who could take on any role. His departure has really hurt the Celtics even with the return of Rajon Rondo as Crawford led the offense on a daily basis. The trade worked out for the Celtics in terms of tanking, but the return is financially questionable. Joel Anthony has a player option for $3 million next year that he will likely accept. Plus, Boston only received a couple of second-rounders with a small chance of being a first-rounder. Nonetheless, the lottery chances were increased.
While Lee received a minute increase and a larger role, Crawford has gotten a lesser role with fewer minutes. He definitely is an upgrade for their bench, but he hasn’t done much. Averaging a mere 15 minutes a game, Crawford is scoring 6.4 points and 2.3 assists. He’s flashed his play making ability at times but has been shooting poorly. However, I believe he will come through for the Warriors and give them a big boost in playoff contention.
Danny Ainge was smart to deplete his roster and increase Boston’s lottery chances. The trades were big boosts for the Grizzlies and the Warriors, and they will also be beneficial to the Celtics’ future.