Earlier this week, I wrote an article about what the Celtics needed to do now that Gordon Hayward has agreed to sign a max deal with the team. In the article, I recommended trading Jae Crowder to the Grizzlies for power forward JaMychal Green to try to free up the cap space needed to pay Gordon Hayward. After talks of a sign-and-trade deal with the Jazz in which Crowder would have been exchanged for Hayward failed, Danny Ainge dealt Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons for SF\PF Marcus Morris.
This trade will send Avery Bradley and his 8.8 million dollar contract to the Pistons for two years of Marcus Morris for 5 million each year. This deal is ultimately smarter for the Celtics as Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, and Marcus Smart will all be free agents after this season and Bradley will most likely be looking for something close to the maximum. Before I dive into my thoughts on the trade, the weirdest part about all of this is that it makes Marcus Smart the longest tenured Celtic player, and he is on his rookie deal still!
As painful as it is, this deal was the most efficient way for the Celtics to clear cap room for Hayward when he signs. If Danny Ainge decides to waive PF/C Jordan Mickey and PG Demetrius Jackson, the Celtics will have roughly $4.32 million to sign another veteran, like Gerald Green for the minimum. This deal also means that Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown could be competing for a starting position. Personally, I think the Celtics will start Marcus Smart over Jaylen Brown because of his playmaking ability and Avery Bradley-esque defensive skills. Another option the Celtics have is to start both Hayward and Crowder at the SG and SF spots and keep Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown as cornerstones of what will be a solid bench. This trade also doesn’t hurt the Celtics’ win projection as they drop from 54.5 to 54 projected wins this season. Marcus Morris will most likely start at the PF position, but will be a little on the smaller side being only 6’ 9”. Morris had a down year from 2015/16 when he averaged 14.1ppg and 5.1 rebounds per game, but he did improve in one category from last season: three point shooting. Morris shot 33% from three point range making 1.5 out of 4.5 attempt per game. Morris also adds a lot of toughness and grit that fits in well with the Celtics, and he able to stretch the floor a lot better than Amir Johnson. Look for the Celtics to be casting up more than the 33.6 (4th in the league) they did last season. Morris also excels in back- to-the-basket isolation situations and has a good shooting touch from the block. I also look forward to seeing how Morris does on the boards. Playing next to Andre Drummond can do horrific things to a player’s rebounding numbers, and Morris will certainly look to make a name for himself rebounding the ball in Boston.
For the Pistons, this deal is beneficial for them. According to CBS, the Pistons’ projected wins for the season jumped from 36 to 41 upon acquiring Bradley which means the Pistons could compete for a playoff spot if things go their way this season, as the East will certainly feature a sub-.500 team, or two. Bradley is one of the best two-way players in the league and will look to run the fastbreak alongside Reggie Jackson.
As a Celtics fan, I can say that I will truly miss Avery Bradley. While he won’t be as celebrated as guys like Paul Pierce or Kevin Garnett, Avery truly embodied what it means to be a Celtic and steadily improved each and every season he has been in the league. I will always remember him most for the role he played in the 20-0 run the Celtics made in Pierce and Garnett’s final game for the Celtics. It was an amazing run for Avery Bradley with the Celtics and the entire fanbase is mourning his departure. Don’t hurt our baby Detroit!