The Celtics have already undergone a bit of a roster makeover this offseason under the new team president of basketball operations Brad Stevens. However, they may not done with their moves just yet. Ime Udoka hinted last week that the team is looking at pretty in other veterans and league sources have indicated to MassLive.com that Boston is still exploring trade options amid a crowded roster with 16 players under contract.
One other team that’s also likely in the market for the trade after Sunday night? The Memphis Grizzlies. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com was first to report that the Los Angeles Clippers would be pulling off a three-for-one trade with the Grizzlies on Sunday night, with Memphis sending the Clippers Eric Bledsoe in exchange for Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu.
The Clippers land a potential upgrade over Beverley and Rondo in Bledsoe, who is coming off a down year in New Orleans. However, the bigger motivation for them in this deal was saving some cash for Los Angeles. By reducing their salary obligations for next season by $8.3 million in the deal, the Clippers will save roughly $30 million in their luxury tax bill next season, which should be pleasing for owner Steve Ballmer.
Where things get really interesting for the Celtics though is Memphis’ involvement. They add two extra players to their roster by completing the three-for-one swap, giving them 17 guaranteed contracts for the 2021-22 season. Needless to say, Memphis will be in the market for more trades in the coming week in an attempt to thin out their roster before the start of the season as Wojnarowski reports.
Memphis has already started creating some additional long-term flexibility and a focus on youth with their moves this summer. They also reduced $4 million in salary commitments for the 2022-23 season by moving Bledsoe’s contract for the expiring deals of Rondo, Beverley and Oturu.
It’s highly unlikely the Celtics have an interest in any of those three players acquired by the Grizzlies. Boston already has a logjam at point guard following the acquisitions of Kris Dunn and Dennis Schroder this offseason and neither Rondo nor Beverley would provide much of an upgrade on either of those players (when healthy).
Where things get more interesting from Boston’s perspective is whether Memphis is any more willing to move other veteran players on their roster after this deal. MassLive reported earlier this summer that Boston is among several teams that have shown interest in 28-year-old Kyle Anderson. The versatile forward is entering the final season of his contract while making a modest $9.9 million. He’s a valuable role player for Memphis but also is quite a bit older than the team’s current young core upon entering a contract year.
The Celtics would have to give up significant value (a first-round pick or a young promising player) to land him in all likelihood and it’s unclear whether Stevens would be willing to pay that price. Anderson’s contract is too big to fit into either of Boston’s trade exceptions but Boston would only need to send out $5.6 million in salary to make a deal work under salary matching rules. That would give Stevens plenty of options to put together a competitive offer for the veteran.
Even if Boston isn’t willing to pay the price for Anderson in a deal, there are a number of low-cost players that could now be more available at the bottom of the Grizzlies roster in the wake of this deal. A number of these players are also upgrades on the players at the bottom of Boston’s depth chart so Stevens should explore finding a potential match on a deal.
The major moves of the offseason are likely done for Boston but there is still plenty of room for improvement on the fringes for next season. Look for the Celtics to remain active in pursuing deals to help round out a roster, whether it’s with Memphis or another squad.