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On Wednesday, the Celtics completed their second trade in less than ten days, sending shooting guards MarShon Brooks and Jordan Crawford to Golden State. While the Warriors traded point guard Toney Douglas to the Heat, Boston received former Miami center Joel Anthony, a conditional first-round draft pick, a 2016 second-rounder and cash considerations.
The move essentially confirms the Celtics’, or at least Danny Ainge’s, intention to tank on the 2013-14 season, which may or may not have been motivated by the recent nine-game losing streak that knocked Boston out of playoff position. This doesn’t mean it was a bad trade, however. Both Brooks and Crawford will be free agents after this season, while Anthony will have a player option to remain in Boston through 2014-15, but that would only cost the Celtics $3.8 million.
Crawford, acquired from Washington at last year’s trade deadline, was very solid for Boston this year, filling in at the point guard position in Rajon Rondo‘s absence to the tune of 13.7 points, a career-high 5.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds. But with Rondo possibly returning on Friday against the Lakers, and with Jerryd Bayless now in the fold after last week’s trade, Crawford would certainly have been moved to the bench behind Avery Bradley. Brooks, for his part, played in just 10 games this year, averaging 3.1 points in 7.3 minutes per appearance, and spent time in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws.
Anthony, a seventh-year Canadian center out of UNLV, probably won’t contribute much to the Celtics’ frontcourt. Although he was an important part of the Heat’s rotation up to and including the 2011-12 championship season, his playing time fell dramatically last year, and he’s only played in 12 games this season. Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries and Jared Sullinger have been taking the bulk of the minutes at the power forward and center positions, and there’s no reason why that should change with this trade.
As for the backcourt, the deal leaves Bradley as the only shooting guard on the roster, since Keith Bogans is on indefinite leave for personal reasons. Phil Pressey made his first career start in Wednesday’s win over Toronto and, while he failed to score a point, he did have a career-high 10 assists. It’s possible that Brad Stevens could choose to play Bayless as Bradley’s primary backup at the two-guard spot, giving Pressey more minutes behind Rondo.
Finally, for the consequences off the court: with this deal, Bradley and Humphries are the Celtics’ only upcoming free agents, supposing that Anthony takes his player option. Boston should be able to resign Bradley thanks to the financial flexibility that trading Courtney Lee provided. The conditional first-round draft pick is one the Heat acquired from the 76ers in 2012, and it will become two second-rounders if Philadelphia misses the playoffs this year and next, which seems quite likely. All in all, through the next five drafts, the Celtics currently own a grand total of nine first-round picks and five second-rounders. That’s not a bad haul, and is firmly in line with what Ainge set out to do last offseason.
It will take more than Rondo’s presence to get this team into the postseason, but Celtics fans should be comfortable knowing that the future is looking bright.