The Celtics have stayed quiet on the trade front for the better part of the last few seasons but a big reason for that is the work they put in earlier this decade. As we wait for the NBA season to return, we will be taking a closer look at some of the more memorable seasons and transactions over Celtics' history. A fun place to begin is the 2014-15 campaign which nearly set a record for the franchise with 11 separate trades and 22 different players suiting up for Boston over the course of the season. Let’s dive into those deals individually (some more meaningful than others) and look at how they shaped the squad that set the stage for today’s group.
The Setup: The Celtics were in year two of the Brad Stevens era with low expectations and were on pace to match underwhelming preseason expectations yet again at the halfway mark. The selling off of assets had begun already with the dealing of Rajon Rondo in December and a team full of young players and veterans likely to be dealt had struggled in the midst of a 12-23 start. Jeff Green was at the forefront of the underachieving team, averaging a team-high 17.4 ppg with some very underwhelming percentages (43% FG, 30% 3pt). At age 28, he was seen as being in his prime still though and had another year of team control beyond this season at reasonable money ($9.2 million). While he was clearly miscast as a top scoring option in Boston, Danny Ainge went to work trying to sell him as a capable supporting piece for a playoff team in exchange for some future assets to help the C’s overturn the roster and stockpile assets for the rebuild.
• Tayshaun Prince (from MEM)
• Austin Rivers (from NO)
• protected future first-round pick from Grizzlies (top 8 in 2019, top 6 in 2020, unprotected in 2021)
• Jeff Green (from BOS)
• Russ Smith (from NO)
—Quincy Pondexter (from MEM)
—2015 second-round pick from Grizzlies
Why the Grizzlies did it: This was prime grit and grind Grizzlies with Mike Conley and Marc Gasol in their prime and Zach Randolph with plenty left in the tank. Despite those talents, they were still a middle of the road offensive team and they believed they could upgrade at the small forward spot from the 34-year-old Tayshaun Prince. Prince was a savvy vet but wasn’t a shot creator on his own and struggled to get to the line. General manager Chris Wallace saw Green as an upgrade on Prince and paid a first-round pick down the line to help give his team the final piece to make a deep playoff run. Green as a first option was miscast in Boston clearly but as a fourth scoring option in Memphis? The Grizzlies felt like it was a move that put them over the top.
Why the Pelicans did it: They were a minor part of this deal, essentially a dumping ground for a contract that the Grizzlies didn’t want in an injured Quincy Pondexter. They managed to dump Austin Rivers in the deal as well to Boston and snag a second-round pick for the disappointing lottery pick who had failed to develop any real consistency in his first three seasons. In essence, it was a cost-cutting move that netted them a second-round pick.
Why the Celtics did it: This was classic calculus for the Celtics during the 2014-15 season, opting to sell high on players they didn’t see as part of the future while also taking on additional salary in order to position themselves to stockpile more assets down the line.
Green’s initial extension (four years, $36 million) in 2012 was arguably one of his worst big signing bets Danny Ainge made as Celtics president as he really never developed into the type of player that the world envisioned him to be. Luckily for Boston, by the time they were starting to give up on him, there were still a few teams around the league that bought into his empty numbers and the fact that he could be starting caliber asset on a contender. The Grizzlies happily gave up a first-round pick down the line for a prime Green addition but the C’s did well to secure an asset down the line from Memphis when the team’s core would be in their twilights. At the time, Prince was not an asset but was a solid overpaid veteran that clearly wouldn’t disrupt the locker room.
Rivers was taken as part of the deal so the C’s were willing to take his money off the Grizzlies’ hands in order to help structure the deal and potentially gain another asset. They managed to find a landing spot for him in LA immediately after his dad came to the rescue with a second-round pick as part of the offer.
The Long-Term Impact
From a Grizzlies standpoint, this deal was a disappointment, to say the least. Green put up respectable