In the midst of the LeBron James free-agent frenzy, the Boston Celtics perhaps aided the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ chances to land LeBron by playing the facilitator role in a three-way trade involving the Brooklyn Nets. Unless Cleveland is able to bring LeBron back, the Celtics potentially got the best out of the trade.
In an attempt to clear more salary cap space, the Cavaliers sent Jarrett Jack (who is owed about $16 million the next three years) and Sergey Karasev to the Nets. The Celtics received Tyler Zeller, a future first-round pick from Cleveland and Marcus Thornton‘s expiring contract.
Cleveland freed up over $9 million, giving them $21.7 million to play with in free agency, the Nets get a proven role player who can help them in the playoffs and the Celtics a cheap seven-footer with potential, another draft pick and an expiring contract. They also only gave up a protected second-round pick and used their trade exception. Boston essentially received more assets without giving up anything.
Zeller isn’t exactly a stand out, but he is young and has shown flashes of potential. The Celtics got themselves a 24-year-old center at an extremely cheap price. Zeller could also be used in another trade; perhaps in a package for Kevin Love, anybody? Boston also receives a top-10 protected draft pick for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and unprotected in 2019. Thornton’s $8 million expiring contract will also be valuable in a trade package.
Of course the only downfall to this trade is that the Ainge could be helping Cleveland create a super team consisting of Kyrie Irving, LeBron and quite possibly Kevin Love. Imagine how bad it would look if Boston helped Cleveland get Love after chasing him all season? Nonetheless, the Celtics have certainly set themselves up for a successful future.
Danny Ainge once again shows his sagacity in a trade by equipping the Celtics for the future without giving up anything significant. Zeller and a first-round pick can be used in a package down the road and Thornton clears up more space for the summer of 2015. This could only be the beginning for “Trader Danny.”