Can we stop pretending the Boston Celtics will rule the NBA trade market over the next couple of weeks?
Any time you read an article or listen to a talking head, there's a mention of the looming Feb. 23 deadline and how the Celtics can shake up the entire Association by packaging their "treasure trove of assets" for a star player.
But if we're being honest, Boston's supposed stockpile is the single most overrated thing in the entire NBA. While there are undoubtedly some stellar pieces rattling around the Celtics' cabinets these days — particularly the draft picks from the Brooklyn Nets — the reality of the situation is Boston has nothing to pair with that lottery-based potential.
Don't believe me? Let's go through Boston's best assets, from the top trade chip to the pieces Danny Ainge hopes you won't investigate too closely before finalizing your transaction.
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2017 first-round pick swap with the Brooklyn Nets
This is the crown jewel of Boston's supposed hoard, and even it comes with a significant caveat.
(Note: I originally stated any team trading for the Nets' pick has to swap picks with Brooklyn, which is just incorrect. Shoutout to the fine Celtics fans who pointed that out. Appreciate your enthusiasm; your team is still very good, and your coach is easily in the top five in the NBA, if not the top three. But that doesn't drastically change how I feel about this asset — a very good trade chip that because of random chance is slightly overrated and isn't nearly enough on its own to land a star).
At this point in time, any team trading for that pick is at the mercy of probability. No matter how bad the Nets are, there's only a 25 percent chance this turns into the first overall pick.
While the Brooklyn pick won't fall any lower than No. 4, the chance you end up with something less than the best-case scenario diminishes the pick's value, as well.
Brooklyn's 2018 first-round pick with no protections
Assuming Brooklyn will be awful for the next several years — and that feels pretty safe — this pick is nearly as valuable as the 2017 selection. You're essentially exchanging the possibility the Nets improve for the right to keep your own pick rather than sending it back to Boston, as with the aforementioned asset.
Yet if the Celtics want to make a big move, they probably have to send both the 2017 and 2018 picks away. And without a guaranteed superstar on the market, Boston's not going to act that rashly.
The Celtics own the Clippers' and Grizzlies' 2019 first-round picks as well, but for now, it's hard to project what kind of value that asset will have moving forward.
Avery Bradley, SG
Bradley's the best player the Celtics would be willing to move in a deal, which isn't really saying much. He provides solid value as a 3-point shooter and a defender, but he's also 26 years old and probably won't get much better than he already is.
He's the kind of piece you try to sign in free agency to round out a championship contender, not the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade.
Jaylen Brown, SF
The 20-year-old Brown is the most intriguing young player in Boston; even I can't ignore his potential upside. Yet there are some in the NBA who compare Brown to James Harden, which is the most misguided comparison I've heard in quite a while.
The only similarity is Brown's penchant for drawing contact at the weirdest angles to get to the line. Harden, though, uses his nose for free throw to complement his stellar skills as a playmaker, shooter, and finisher at the rim. Brown doesn't have any of that at all.
Jae Crowder, SF
Celtics fans will tell you how crucial Crowder is to Boston's success, and they're right. He's a fantastic glue guy who does all the little things, plus a few big things when the Celtics need him most.
Like Bradley, though, Crowder is 26 years old and a better fit on a contender, not a team trading for draft picks and young guys with upside.
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Marcus Smart, PG
A 22-year-old Boston point guard who can't shoot, has flashed anger issues, and doesn't always make the best decisions on the court?
I've seen how Rajon Rondo's career plays out in the modern NBA. I don't need to see it again with Smart — especially since he can't really pass, either.
Kelly Olynyk, PF
... you know what? No.
I'm not going to lie to you and say the 25-year-old Olynyk is an asset of any kind. I will not say that about Jordan Mickey, Tyler Zeller, Terry Rozier, or James Young, either.
The fact of the matter is Danny Ainge has drafted incredibly poorly over the years, and Boston's roster reflects his poor decision-making.
If the Celtics want to be active at the deadline, they either need a frustrated star who wants out or a front office with no idea what it's doing — which means Boston's only hope is to keep chasing Jimmy Butler (sorry, Bulls fans).