NBA Roundtable

Rumour: Butler + Jamison To Boston

In Trade Talk on February 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Adrian Wojnarowski reports

In a dramatic move that would resuscitate their fading championship hopes, the Boston Celtics are discussing a deal with the Washington Wizards for forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Friday.

The proposed deal would send the expiring contracts of Ray Allen, Brian Scalabrine and J.R. Giddens to the Wizards, a move that would signal the start of Washington’s rebuilding process.

The trade isn’t imminent, but talks have progressed and Celtics GM Danny Ainge has positioned his organization to make one of the boldest trade deadline moves in years.

Summary

Good move for Boston — upgrades their talent level.

Excellent move for Washington. They desperately need to rebuild their team and the cap flexibility that they gain from this deal will help do that.

Notes/Thoughts

Age

  • Ray Allen is 34 years old and turns 35 in the summer
  • Antawn Jamison is 33 years old and turns 34 in the summer
  • Caron Butler turns 30 next month

So, Boston does not get that much younger but they do manage to give their current window a slight extension. Neither player will be a long term piece past the KG/Celtics era.

Contracts

Ray Allen is an expiring contract worth $18.78 million. Scalabrine and Giddens are also expiring contracts and they are worth $3.41 million and $1.03 million respectively.

Caron Butler has two years left on his contract including this season that will cost $10.3 million and $10.8 million.

Antawn Jamison has three years left on his contract costing his new team $11.64 million this season, $13.36 million next season, and $15.08 million the following year.

After trade — Wizards 2010 Cap Position

  • Gilbert Arenas – $17.73 million
  • DeShawn Stevenson – $4.15 million
  • Andray Blatche – $3.26 million
  • Nick Young – $2.63 million
  • JaVale McGee – $1.6 million

The Wizards would also be on the hook for a high lottery pick + cap holds for empty roster spot charges. Let’s estimate that cost at $5.85 million.

That would give the Wizards a total of $35.22 million.

So they would have about $16-to-$19 million in cap space next summer to play around with. Along with their new high lottery pick.

After trade — Celtics 2010 Cap Position

  • Paul Pierce – $21.51 million
  • Kevin Garnett – $18.83 million
  • Antawn Jamison – $13.36 million
  • Caron Butler – $10.8 million
  • Rajon Rondo – $9.09 million

Those five players by themselves will cost a total of $73.59 million.

  • Rasheed Wallace – $6.32 million
  • Kendrick Perkins – $4.89 million
  • Glen Davis – $2.5 million
  • Bill Walker – $850k

That brings the Celtics total up to $88.15 million for nine players.

They would also have their late first round pick and would need at least three more players to reach the league minimum roster size of 13 players. That would increase their salaries to $91 million.

With an expected luxury tax level of close to $65 million, that would leave Boston with a payroll of $117 million in 2010/11.

As a result, it’s high on impossible that Boston’s ownership will be willing to spend the MLE the following summer despite Boston still requiring fresh blood at the backup guard + backup wing positions. If they were to spend the MLE, or the equivalent to it by re-signing House + Daniels + TA, they would add another $10-12 million to their payroll.

Potential Buyout for Ray Allen

The Wizards have no use for a player like Ray Allen.

They’ll be giving up on their season by trading Butler + Jamison and have no hope of making the postseason, so from a talent perspective they have no value in keeping a quality player like Ray. He doesn’t alter their present tense enough to add significant value (to the playoffs) but does hurt their draft pick chances.

The Wizards would also have to give up 30-35 minutes of playing time to Ray and make him one of their main offensive threats. Another 30-35 minutes for Mike Miller. So there isn’t much time available for the Wizards to play their top two prospects on the wing, Nick Young and Dominic McGuire. If the Wizards were to jettison Ray Allen they would create playing time + touches/shot attempts for Young to develop with.

The Wizards could also further cut their salary bill by getting Ray to leave some money on the table.

It’s an easy decision for Washington to make. All of the value is in buying Ray out of his contract. And for Ray? He will want to play for a Contender.

Given Ray Allen’s recent history + emotional connection with the Boston Celtics, the Celtics would then be the favourite to sign him once he enters free agency. So Boston would possibly/likely be getting Butler + Jamison + Ray.

Haywood + Perkins and DeShawn Stevenson

There has been some talk about these players being included in the deal.

A swap of Haywood + Perkins which would give Washington a younger more cost effective (for 18 months) center to build around. While Boston makes a lateral move in the talent department. No issues here, this is a fine addition to the trade.

The second idea is the inclusion of Stevenson who is owed $4.15 million next season. Removing him from the team would help Washington’s payroll this season + improve their cap space next season. There is a lot of value there for them. It would also increase Boston’s payroll by $8.3 million after luxury tax payments which is a high cost.

Washington should force Boston to take Stevenson’s contract on. They can find expiring contracts for Jamison + Butler in separate deals elsewhere. No point in making this trade if they can’t find some added incentives. That means Stevenson + preferably two first round picks (2010 + 2012).

Danny Ainge won’t give up picks beyond that point in time due to the prospects of rebuilding. That would be a deal breaker. Washington shouldn’t pursue it. Also, Danny is a very good negotiator who hold firm until the final moment about any other inclusions. This will be a big test for Washington’s front office.

Washington’s Luxury Tax Payments

The Wizards have a payroll of $80.32 million. If you subtract their savings from the Arenas + Crittenton suspensions, that lowers their payroll by another $4.4 million (don’t know exact figure, that is a rough estimate).

That means the Wizards are still $5.5 million above the luxury tax threshold.

By trading Ray Allen + Brian Scalabrine + JR Giddens for Butler + Jamison the Wizards would be taking back an additional salary of $1.55 million. Increasing their luxury tax as a result.

By including Haywood + Perkins they can make this tax neutral for both parties. By further including Stevenson, the Wizards can make substantial savings ($3.4 million).

Washington could even include, without Boston adding any more players, one other player (Oberto) and save another $2 million. That would get them below the luxury tax threshold.

Of course, Boston is going to be reluctant to keep adding to their own luxury tax bill.

Edit: Another method to decrease Washington’s luxury tax charge is more simple — remove Scalabrine from the initial trade — the trade still works financially and Washington saves about $2 million. This is the most likely avenue for the Wizards to take.

Note: When players are suspended by their teams their full salaries are counted against the cap + tax. When players are suspended by the league, only 50% of their salaries during the duration of the suspension are counted against the cap. That’s about $4 million saved from Arenas and about $500k from Crittenton.

Other Notes

Caron Butler’s Jump Shot

Caron Butler has an eFG% on his jump shots of 41%, 42% and 43% over the past three seasons.

This issue’s level of importance varies widely depending on lineups.

  • When Butler is in that starting unit playing alongside Rondo + Perk with only two other good shooters, it will negatively effect the Celtics offense.
  • When Butler is in the game with two of Garnett + Jamison + Wallace and alongside Pierce it will be largely irrelevant. The Celtics will be able to post up either Pierce or Butler against the smaller defender and keep their bigs away from the rim to create space. This will be a highly effective offensive strategy + difficult for opposing teams to cope with.
  • Butler will also be effective offensively when he’s alongside two shooting bigs + House + a non-shooting wing like Daniels or TA.
  • A lineup where the Celtics go big on the perimeter with TA + Daniels taking the backcourt spots and Butler on the wing, alongside two shooting bigs, would be vulnerable offensively against top defensive opponents … but this lineup would be very effective throughout the regular season largely due to TA’s + Daniels’ high quality defensive + rebounding contributions.
    • In order to get the most out of  this unit they’d need to have Jamison (offense) + Garnett (defense) on the floor to anchor both ends of the court.
    • If it’s Jamison + Wallace (poor defense), or Garnett + Wallace (too passive offensively), they’ll be unnecessarily vulnerable on one end of the court.
    • Edit: Actually, the more I think about a TA + Daniels + Butler + Jamison + Garnett lineup the more I like it. That would be a terrific second unit. Full stop.

So, in summary, Butler’s poor jump shooting is an issue in the starting lineup but only a minor-to-irrelevant issue in the rest of the lineups.

Sixth Man of the Year = Antawn Jamison

Several years ago, 2004, Antawn Jamison won the Sixth Man of the Year award while playing with the Dallas Mavericks. He put up 15 and 6 in a little under 30 minutes.

The lesson of note was his offensive effectiveness. That season, Jamison gained more offensive freedom than he’s ever had before. He was surrounded by scorers + shooters and teams were not able to double him. He was also regularly pitted against reserve players who he had an easier time exploiting.

Jamison took advantage of these new found opportunities by heading into the paint more than ever. His increased number of interior shots led to a higher FG% and the most efficient offensive season of his career. He posted a TS% of 58.1% versus his career average of 52.6% + second highest mark of his career at 54.6%.

With Jamison returning to a similar role with the Celtics, should this trade go through, we should expect Jamison to increase his scoring efficiency once again and post the second highest mark of his career.

Caron Butler’s Offensive Efficiency

Butler is a different case. An unsettling one.

Caron Butler has struggled offensively this season because he has been surrounded with more scoring threats. Just like he struggled in Miami once Wade + Odom arrived and how he struggled in LA with Kobe + Odom. When he’s asked to play alongside other threats, his offense drops.

Caron Butler’s most efficient offensive seasons have come when Arenas was injured and he was allowed to be the main offensive threat on the floor. The ball always came to him and he had the freedom to do whatever he wanted with it.

Maybe his offensive efficiency does improve when Butler arrives in Boston … but throughout the rest of his career it’s gone the other way and I think it’s more likely that that pattern continues than not.

Butler + Jamison’s Defense

Caron Butler is a very poor man-to-man defender who doesn’t have the lateral quickness to stick with moderate athletes at the small forward spot. He’s going to be even more vulnerable in these situations against quick two guards. This will increase the burden on Paul Pierce to take over difficult defensive coverages.

Butler is a solid team defender though and can do some good there for Boston.

Antawn Jamison is a very poor defender both in one-on-one situations and team defense. He regularly gets lost off the ball and fails to make correct/timely rotations. He has a poor defensive BBIQ.

I think Jamison’s lack of defensive quality will decrease the effectiveness of Boston’s defense but it will still remain an elite defensive side due to Garnett, Perkins, Pierce, Daniels and Rondo. They retain enough of a defensive foundation amongst those five to keep their defense mostly intact.

Boards

On the rebounding front, Butler is a good rebounding small forward and would be an outstanding rebounding two guard so he should help Boston improve on the backboards.

Antawn Jamison is a poor-to-decent rebounder for a big man but Rasheed Wallace is slightly worse, so Boston should hold relatively steady there. We may see an increase in Jamison’s rebounding numbers if he commits to finding other ways to contribute.

Passing

Both Jamison + Butler are poor passers for the amount of time they spend on the ball. It will give two more 20ppg threats but it will also curb their ball movement.

Quick Questions

(1) If Boston get two more 20ppg threats, does that guarantee a passive Garnett scoring wise?

(2) If Boston makes this deal, do they try to revisit the BBD for Augustin trade idea/rumour?

It gives Boston a relatively cheap and talent backup point guard for future seasons (mainly 2010/11) when they’re going to be squeezed financially by the luxury tax.

Likelihood Of Trade

It still feels a little far fetched to me due to two factors:

#1 — the massive financial consequences to Boston next season

#2 — that Washington is getting little added incentives from this deal and could easily find expiring contracts in separate trades for Butler + Jamison. Packaging them together doesn’t help their cause on the trade market and in this specific trade it does absolutely nothing to help them.

Then again, if Boston includes two drafts pick which they are likely willing to do … that second point is mute.

So there is some strong footing behind this trade rumour + both teams will definitely be interested in the basic ideas behind the trade. Talent for Boston. Cap space for Washington.

Update

Ainge denies deal — link

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Friday he has not discussed trades involving the Charlotte Bobcats or Washington Wizards.

“There is no truth to either one of those,” Ainge said. “I have had conversations with a lot of teams but those have never been discussed. There are a lot of things I would like to do but I don’t feel a need to do something. I am always looking to upgrade the team, if possible.”

The article notes the Rasheed Wallace to Bobcats rumour rather than the DJ Augustin + Glen Davis one. That sounds accurate.

Update: Ric Bucher was just on ESPN and said that Boston turned down this deal due to the financial implications. That sounds about right.

Update: Sherrod Blakely reports that multiple sources have denied trade discussions between the two teams.

Update: Wojnarowski has appeared on a radio show to defend his report against these denials and repeats that the deal has been discussed but that nothing is imminent.

“It’s also been confirmed by some other people out there,” Wojnarowski said.

“The story is 100 percent accurate,” he continued. “They talked. [Celtics GM Danny Ainge’s] thing was, he was going to go back and perhaps talk to ownership or bring it to them . . . But they’ve talked, the names have been exchanged, and it’s exactly how I portrayed it. I didn’t say it was imminent, I didn’t say it was about to happen.”

CSNNE.com’s A. Sherrod Blakely was the first to report a Ray Allen trade rumor, and Wojnarowski said Allen is actively being shopped by the Celtics.

“This idea that they’re [only] taking calls on Ray? It’s not accurate,” he said. “Every GM in the league will tell you they’re actively [shopping Allen] . . . They’ve got to do something here, they know it, and Ray’s their one chip to get younger, to get more athletic. [He’s] really the one chip they have and I think they’re going to use it.”

As for the likelihood of the trade happening, Wojnarowski said, “I can’t put a percentage on [it] . . . At the end of the day, only Danny and Washington know what that percentage is. Like I said, it’s not imminent, it’s a trade discussion, it’s what’s going on between the two teams, and that’s how I portrayed and reported it.”

Update: Steve Bulpett confirms the Celtics interest in Caron Butler

Update: It looks like Dallas has sealed the deal for Caron Butler so this Boston-Washington rumour is pretty much dead and buried.

Update: Danny Ainge says they’re not close to making any deals

Most reports of Celtics involvement in trade talks have been found to be old, unfounded or something mentioned in passing but far from the negotiating stage.

But the club was probably hoping last night that word of Caron Butler going from Washington to the Mavericks is untrue.Sources said the Celts were looking at what it would take for them to get Butler, while other sources had them in the running for his Wizards teammate Antawn Jamison.

Danny adds

“There will be a lot of talking, and I think things will get even more serious next week when teams get back from All-Star Weekend,” Ainge said.

Ainge would very much like to get something done by next Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, but he said yesterday, “There’s nothing close right now.”

Ainge has said he will do nothing that hinders the Celtics’ chances of winning this season, and he added yesterday he will not overreact to recent losses.

According to general managers from two other clubs, Ainge may still believe the C’s can win a championship with what they have, but he is clearly more open to discussing trades that could significantly alter the team.

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  1. IMO, without Ray Allen’s high percentage mid-range and perimeter shooting ability in their line-up the Celtics will have no legitimate shot at winning this year’s championship, given the strength of the Lakers, Cavaliers and Magic.

    Then again, neither will they have a legit shot at winning the title this year, as is, without a completely healthy KG.

    Unfortunately, the C’s are caught between a rock and hard place, on account of KG’s slow recovery from last year’s season-ending knee injury … which now seems as though it may eventually turn out to have been severe enough to end his career prematurely, at the specific dollar value associated with his present contract.

    The old KG is gone … forever … and, sadly, there is nothing which the Celtics can do now to bring him back, to restore their former lustre, while the current KG is still on their roster.

    Ray Allen isn’t the problem on the Celtics right now; and, neither is Paul Pierce, or Rasheed Wallace, or Kendrick Perkins, or Rajon Rondo, or Eddie House, or Doc Rivers, etc.

    Their specific problem … relative to the other top teams in the league … is KG.

    When you take a multi-dimensional all-time great player like him, and cut him in half, what you’re left with isn’t going to be good enough to get past the Lakers, Cavs and/or Magic.

  2. Khandor,

    I thought that Kevin Garnett was playing at a high enough level earlier in the season (December) for the Celtics to still be a Championship quality team.

    Now, if he cannot regain that form, then the Celtics aren’t able to win … and frankly there is nothing that they can do to change that.

    But if Garnett can regain that form, I think he’s still good enough to lead them to a title. I thought he was playing a top 10 player in the league level prior to that recent injury.

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