This will be an extremely long entry so we’ll get to the Boston stuff first before some more general trade commentary since that’s where most of my readers are from (and that means like 6 of my friends whom I force to read this thing).
Sox Deadline Move: Good decision to not give up Manny Delcarmen for Jermaine Dye, but hopefully we can pick up a 4th OF type in August. Acquiring Eric Gagne for Kason Gabbard, David Murphy, and a 16 year old kid who we might hear from in 5 years was a great move. The Sox now have several great options in the pen: Papelbon, Gagne, Okajima, Delcarmen, Timlin. There are other guys who can fill needs for the rest of the season and we also have Clay Buchholz who will be up in September ready to see if he’s ready for the post-season. That’s several quality relievers and enough to handle potential injuries to Timlin or others. As far as the rotation is concerned, Schilling will be making his last rehab start tonight and taking Gabbard’s spot in a rotation that will now feature Curt, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and Jon Lester, with Tavarez and Buchholz as short term injury replacement options. Gabbard is a 5th starter who was pitching over his head the first time through the league, and therefore nothing we can’t easily make up for by calling up guys from our own system, and David Murphy is a very mediocre prospect whom we can expect to be mostly a 4th OF over his career at best. As far as the other kid in the trade, he doesn’t have a license yet, so I can’t really tell you too much about him; I’m guessing he’s not going to be a Hall-of-Famer, but you can never say never. Additionally, the Sox will offer Eric Gagne arbitration in the off-season, which he will most likely not accept, meaning that he will bring us two compensation picks at the top of the draft, replacing some of the minor league depth we just traded, and if he does choose to accept, we can then maintain a dominant late inning bullpen for another season. Essentially, we turned a strength into even more of a strength without sacrificing the future.
KG Trade: As more and more information trickles in I might update this, but as of now I’ve heard that KG will be arriving for a package of Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, and 2 first round draft picks (one is Minnesota’s and is top-3 protected, but the other is the going to be a mid to late 20s pick).
For the Celtics this means instant credibility. KG, Pierce, and Allen are among the top 2 or 3 trios in the league and will continue to be for the next three years. Garnett and Pierce will be together for at least another 4 or 5 years. This means that the Celtics are assured to be in at least the 2nd or 3rd round of the play-offs (barring breath-taking regression or heart-wrenching injuries) for the next 4 or 5 years. That means that ownership can handle the extra luxury tax money it will have to pay to truly make this team championship caliber.
What does that mean? Getting a solid back-up point guard and another defensive front court player. The team also needs another wing guy for the second team who can shoot the ball. That would give the Celtics a solid 9 man rotation filled with a starting line-up of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, KG, and Perkins, and Tony Allen, back-up point guard, front court guy, and wing guy. Brian Scalabrine, Gabe Pruitt, and Big Baby Davis would fill out the rest of the roster with occasional contributions. The Celtics still have the ability to get these veteran role players with three assets: Draft picks, the mid-level exception and the veteran’s minimum exception, and a roughly one million dollar trade exception from the Ray Allen trade for Delonte West’s contract. We still have future first round draft picks to work with, since we had Minnesota’s 2009 pick that we’re sending back to them, so we could give up another pick without completely preventing the team from improving in a couple years once it needs more young guys. The veteran’s and mid-level exception total a little more than 7 million dollars that could be split up among 3 guys. So, basically, the Celtics will now rely on the desire of other vets to win a title and hope they take less to join the team that has the best chance at reaching the finals the next couple years in the entire NBA.
Potential veterans who could be looking to sign with the Celtics (just some names, nothing at all behind them other than they are free agents of some sort this off-season, might still be, and might not be terrible): Chris Webber, Anderson Varejao, Sasha Pavlovic, P.J. Brown, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Dikembe Mutombo, James Posey, Jannero Pargo, Brevin Knight, Ruben Patterson, Lawrence Roberts. This list was ordered randomly and most are not likely and not even necessarily guys we would really want to pursue but were taken from the free agent list on ESPN.com and it’s the best I could come up with. Also, trades are definitely possible, and I have no idea who is available.
One last note: I don’t think Doc Rivers is a very good coach, so I say he has one year or less to show that he won’t mess this team up. There won’t be nearly enough players to truly do anything that doesn’t make sense so I’m not sure he’ll be able to screw it up that way, so as long as his staff can find a good defensive scheme and Rondo can continue to develop, his job should be safe. A couple suggestions that might be worth considering: Go small and play Pierce at the 4 sometimes, and/or consider starting Tony Allen and making Ray Allen the automatic 6th man of the year in order to split up Pierce and Ray Ray’s minutes better to keep them fresh as they continue to age—this is nothing new, Ginobili and other quality players do this now, and even Bird, McHale, and Bill Walton did this for the Celtics back in the ‘80s.
Grade: A (would have been an A+ without giving up Gomes, but that’s really just nit-picking)
My prediction: Give the front office one more year to get this team entirely built and potentially replace Doc Rivers and we can look for Green 17 in the 2008/2009 season.
As far as Minnesota is concerned, they got themselves about 19 million dollars off the cap next year if they choose not to bring back any of the guys they just got other than Jefferson, which is more likely than you might think, even though they now might feel pressure to keep everyone but Ratliff around for another year or 2 just to make it look like they didn’t get fleeced for KG. As far as the guys they got go, Al Jefferson is the best player they could have gotten in any deal for KG, so well done in that regard, he will be a perennial All-Star; one problem, he’s about to get an extension after this upcoming year, so he won’t be as cheap as right now, but as long as he doesn’t get a max deal they’ll be much better off, except that they might now feel the pressure to foolishly give him one because they can’t lose him. Ryan Gomes is a quality role player who would have been much more valuable to the Celtics this year, but nothing to build a team around, and he will either get overpaid by the T-Wolves after this season or sign with a contender (perhaps back with the C’s?). Telfair and Green are purely potential, and I’m not sure that either one will turn into much, though it’s worth taking a look at them since their deals have one year options after this season and the team can simply let them walk after that if they don’t like what they see.
Grade for Minnesota: B/B+ (cap room plus Al Jefferson and free looks at other guys with potential is nice, but if they had done this deal earlier they might have gotten a whole lot more, and now they’re looking at being one of the worst teams in the NBA for a couple seasons, which might not be all that bad of a way to rebuild)
MLB trade deadline round-up:
Nice job by the Braves to stock up on Mark Teixeira+Ron Mahay and Octavio Dotel without killing themselves long term. True, they gave up their best prospect (C/1B Jarrod Saltalamacchia), but he got them someone who is better than him now and likely will continue to be so for many years and can take Andruw Jones’ salary slot once the CF leaves this off-season (and this will get the Braves compensation picks and therefore help replenish the farm system that was just weakened by this trade and the Dotel move). Getting Dotel for a fallen prospect in Kyle Davies was a solid move, strengthening their bullpen and giving the Braves a legit shot at the division title and chance at making the World Series. Not bad moves for the Royals and the Rangers though, as they did pretty well getting themselves some guys who could help them in the future, and especially well done by the Rangers, who truly need to build a team and got some potentially quality major leaguers. I’ve read that the Royals could have gotten some other big time prospects though, so if that’s the case they probably didn’t do so well. The thing about this is, based on the Red Sox trade, I’m not sure they didn’t just take the best offer they had.
Wilson Betemit for Scott Proctor was interesting, not a great move, not a bad one, just an interesting one, and I’m not sure how it will turn out.
The Ty Wigginton for Dan Wheeler trade was puzzling and a poor deal for the Astros. They got a guy who has never truly been a good player and is already 30 years old for a valuable reliever who the Devil Rays can easily spin in the off-season for a more valuable, younger guy, or simply keep in order to stop that bullpen from imploding even worse than it has this season and historically.