The Celtic Baron Davis: Pro and Con
Would getting Baron Davis in exchange for some picks, young talent, and expiring contracts be a good or bad thing for the Celtics?
It's no secret the Hornets would consider moving Davis. A potential deal with Memphis involving Shane Battier and Jason Williams was reportedly nixed by Grizzlies GM Jerry West, suggesting that the proposed deal was palatable to the Hornets. Though West prefers to keep Battier, the Celtics can offer the Hornets a similar package of a forward and a quick point guard, not to mention expiring contracts and draft picks. Assuming that it would work for the Hornets, how much can the Celtics give up before it's no longer attractive?
One way to answer this question is to determine what Danny Ainge is trying to build. Aside from the up-tempo and Princeton-style offense that's been a part of his vision from day one, Ainge also has a tactical approach to fulfilling the strategic goal, and that is to surround Paul Pierce with players he likes.
Pierce likes his former college teammate Raef LaFrentz. He likes his offseason workout buddy Ricky Davis. And this season, everybody loves Gary Payton. Paul and Baron are friends as well. And of course Baron can push the uptempo game as well as run the halfcourt offense. He was a potential MVP candidate early last season.
So, ignoring for the moment salary restrictions, giving up some expiring contracts, perhaps the Lakers first-round pick, and youngsters Marcus Banks and Jiri Welsch would seem to be a layup for Boston. They give up free agent flexibility over the summer but have a nice young nucleus of Baron, Paul, and Ricky to go with the Big Al, Raef, and Mark Blount.
Give up Gary Payton? They don't have to in order to match salaries. Jiri, Marcus, Tom Gugliotta, second-round draft pick Justin Reed, and Michael Stewart works, though the Hornets would have to waive some of their cheaper players to take all of these players in trade. The Hornets get youth, maybe even a draft pick tossed in there.
Keeping Payton till the end of the season or at least until the trade deadline if something comes along then means that both he and Baron can help limit each other's minutes and the potential of re-injury. There would surely be times when they play together. Those would be the times of fewest Celtics turnovers, most assists, and most fast breaks.
The difficult question is would you give up Payton if the Hornets insist on him. It's not clear that they would. They do need a point guard, and if they think Marcus still isn't ready, bring Payton along with the deal could help them. But on the other hand, their season is essentially over. They are not going to be in the playoffs. What difference does it make to them if they win an extra handful of games because of Payton? The Hornets should want to get youth and give that youth minutes, much like the expansion Charlotte Bobcats have done.
Few teams have as much youth playing as many minutes as the Celtics do. Fewer still have additional draft picks this summer that they could include in the trade. And very few, perhaps only the Celtics, would be willing and able to take on a potential injury risk without having to play him 40 minutes a night.
Bringing Baron Davis to the Celtics would make this a very special year indeed.