By Matt Esposito
DeMarcus Cousins is not wearing green, which means Celtics fans are seeing red. The 6’11, 270 pound generational talent is on his way to pair up with Anthony Davis and create the best frontcourt duo since Duncan and Robinson. So, how did this lifelong C’s fan react to the news? I was excited and surprisingly content. Did I have to reread this brilliant Kevin Arnowitz piece about seven times? Sure. Regardless, I believe Ainge had his reasons for passing on Boogie. That being said, I think I found the perfect player for Ainge to trade for and win back some disgruntled Celtics diehards.
Greg “Moose” Monroe
If you are done throwing up, try to read on.
Let’s begin by quickly outlining Trader Danny’s long term goals.
- Win a title
- Cap flexibility for this summer
- Fixing team needs (rebounding/rim protection)
- Maintaining bright future
Is there a realistic trade to make which would transform the Celtics into true contenders? No. I love Jimmy Butler and Paul George but, adding either of those players would not put the Cs past the Cavs, let alone the Warriors. Why trade the Brooklyn picks to consistently lose in the Eastern Conference Finals?
There are some big name free agents on the market this year. Players like Steph, KD and CP3 will not end up wearing green. This summer however, you can be damn sure that Danny Ainge will target UFAs like Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward, Danilo Gallinari, Paul Millsap, Serge Ibaka or Iggy. All of these players would fill a needed role for the Cs and firmly entrench them as an EFC contender for years to come. Adding a guy like Gallo or Hayward will not deliver a title but, the team improves without sacrificing its future. Why trade assets for Butler of George when you can sign someone with a similar talent level while maintaining the Brooklyn picks?
What do Amir Johnson, Jonas, Green and Zeller all have in common? Besides being allergic to boards, all of their salaries come off the books this year. AJ, Jerekbo and Green are expiring and Zeller has only a partial guarantee. Ainge can also let Olynyk and Young walk. By doing so, he can free up around 28 million in cap space for next season. Just enough to offer a max contract to one of the aforementioned players. This is the reason we have not seen Ainge pull the trigger on a guy like Faried of Vucevic. They would eat up into that precious cap space due to their multiple year deals.
If Ainge is going to trade for someone midseason, they will be on an expiring contract.
…(see Monroe, Greg; Tucker, P.J; Gibson, Taj)
Enter: Greg Monroe
He is not officially an expiring contract. Monroe has a player option for next year of about 17 million. I fully expect him to opt out to receive a long term deal in this new, lucrative market. It is a risk for Ainge to assume this but, its one I would be willing to take. What skills does Monroe bring to the table? And would these skills fit into the Celtics scheme?
Passing: Monroe is an above average passing big man in this league. The Cs offense relies heavily on ball movement. The open man always has the green light. Therefore, the ball must move to find him. It’s the reason Horford is averaging 5 assists a game. It’s also the reason the Cs have not acquired the infamous ballstopper named Carmelo yet. Monroe would fit in seamlessly on offense, as his assist percentage is actually higher than Johnson or Olynyk’s right now.
Rebounding: Horford, Olynyk and even Johnson have spent more time on the perimeter this year, as they look to adapt to the changing NBA offensive style. It is one of the reasons the Celtics do not get any offensive boards. Monroe fixes this problem. According to Basketball Reference, he has a rebounding percentage higher than Horford, Johnson or Olynyk An extra possession or two a game would do wonders for this team, as they constantly find themselves winning games by a slim margin.
Defense: Sure, Monroe is not a rim protector. Yet this year, he has seen his defense develop in other ways. Monroe is lighter on his feet and it has resulted in mores steals and general defensive activity. Despite playing the least amount of minutes per game of his entire career, Monroe has seen his steal rate reach a career high. The effort is there too.
Flexibility: Today’s game has outpaced most traditional big men. Still, teams have figured out ways to maximize post players such as Randolph and Jefferson. Bigs who do not stretch the floor but can still provide offensive fire power are coming off the bench now. Enes Kanter is a wonderful example of this. By following the Thunder’s game plan, Monroe could come off the bench and dominate smaller, slower defenders. The Cs already do much passing out of the post with Marcus Smart. Let’s try this with an actual post player and see what happens. Furthermore, bringing in Monroe as an early sub for Johnson could open up minutes for Horford to switch to the 4, something he wants to do.
Let’s recap. Monroe is not sexy. He’s not Butler. He’s not George. He’s certainly not Cousins. But, Monroe meets most of Ainge’s needs. He is (most likely) an expiring contract. He is an upgrade as a passer and rebounder. The defense is decent as well. Oh…and he does not cost us the shot at Fultz/Ball or Ayton/Porter in 2018! For the now-tanking Bucks, they get two expirings and a pick. Throw in James Young if we have to; he’s been playing surprisingly well with Bradley out. Check my trade offer below:
Bucks get: Celtics get:
Zeller, Jerekbo and our Memphis first. Greg Monroe