By Aaron Jackson
With Gordon Hayward now in the fold, Jae Crowder becomes incredibly expendable, both in terms of his position and perhaps in terms of his attitude. Crowder made it pretty clear last year that he wasn’t happy with the Celtics’ fans blatantly buttering up Hayward when Utah played in Boston, and now that he’s potentially lost his spot in the starting lineup? I just don’t see a scenario where the two can co-exist. All of that said, Crowder is a huge bargain compared to contracts we are seeing signed right now, which is why Boston doesn’t want to just give him up for nothing. Here are 5 teams and players that could possibly fit in exchange for Jae Crowder.
- Denver Nuggets: This team is the most obvious fit, as they have WAY TOO MANY bigs, and just lost Danilo Gallinari to the Clippers. Kenneth Faried, who once looked to be on his way to stardom before injuries found him falling out of favor with the team. Faried could be a great option, but his salary of $12 million would be a hard pill to swallow. Darrell Arthur is an option whose salary is closer, but he still makes more than Crowder and seems to be on the downside of his career. The guy I’m looking at that makes the most sense is Mason Plumlee. Between the Trailblazers and Nuggets he averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds last year, and comes on the cheap, at just over $3 million. The Nuggets don’t really have a clear spot for him moving forward either, which is a good thing for Boston. The Middle Plumlee Brother would be a one year rental, but seems like the perfect fit for a team that is in dire need of rebounding, defense, and a little cap relief.
- Memphis Grizzlies: This would be a way to make some major waves that Celtics fans have been hoping for. What if Danny Ainge could somehow pull off a trade that brought in Marc Gasol? An all-star caliber player at both ends, and a guy that is widely considered one of the best defensive big men in the game. Gasol would allow Al Horford to move to a more comfortable spot at the 4, while also providing Boston with what could be the final piece of a championship contender. It’s not like Memphis has a lot to look forward to next season; with a loaded Western Conference they appear to be well on the outside of the playoff discussion. Gasol won’t come cheap, both in terms of salary ($22 million) and return, but it’s a move that would put Boston on par with Cleveland in a very weak Eastern Conference. Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Demetrius Jackson gets them to within $500k of a deal being struck. Throw in one of the Celtics future first rounders and who says no?
- Minnesota Timberwolves: With a young team ready to compete now, there could be a need for some more veteran presence for Tom Thibodeau and company. With Karl Anthony Towns looking like a budding superstar, they can afford to part ways with a guy like Gorgui Dieng. The 7 footer from Louisville is a stat geek darling: when he gets the playing time he deserves, his efficiency ratings are fantastic. As it is he averages 10 points, 8 boards and 2 blocks a game. The problem is he doesn’t really seem to have a spot on this roster. The Celtics could give him the 30 minutes a game he needs to really blossom as a player already around the top 50 in the league for Player Efficiency Rating. At $14 million per year the Celtics wouldn’t be able to trade Crowder straight up, but a combination of Crowder and Jaylen Brown/Marcus Smart gets it done according to ESPN’s Trade Machine.
- Orlando Magic: I’ve made no secret of wanting Boston to make a deal with Orlando for NIkola Vucevic. Over his career, the 7 footer has been a durable double-double machine that I think is incredibly undervalued. The Magic have opted to play more of the younger players on their roster, cutting back his minutes, but Vucevic still averaged 15 and 10 last year, right in line with his career numbers. Orlando wants to give guys like Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton the reins, why not let them do it? Jaylen Brown/Marcus Smart and Crowder gets the job done financially, and adds 3 wins to Boston according to ESPN’s Trade Machine. I doubt that’s a deal that Orlando would pass up either, and the Celtics could always throw a pick their way if they balk. This to me would be a no brainer.
- Charlotte Hornets: Frank the Tank come on down! You’re the next contestant on Who Wants’ to be a Celtic! About to enter his third year in the league, Frank Kaminsky has proven a lot of naysayers wrong in his first two years. The Wisconsin forward put up 12 points and 4 rebounds last year, though his 39% shooting percentage suggests he was asked to do a little too much offensively for a bad Hornets team. With Charlotte adding Dwight Howard to the fold, Kaminsky will likely have a hard time seeing much action for Steve Clifford’s crew. Why not pick up a guy in Crowder that could fit your roster right away, and help with the win now mentality they seem to have have? Meanwhile Kaminsky would fit perfectly in a Kelly Olynyk style role for the Celtics, and he’s under team control the next 3 seasons at dirt cheap prices.
Aaron Jackson (@AaronRJackson on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook.