A mere two hours before yesterday’s trade deadline, Celtics reporters were all stating the same thing – expect Danny Ainge and his crew to stand firm and let the deadline pass with no moves. Think again! In the dying stages of the 3pm cut-off, the Celtics got involved in a very productive way.
In 2014’s free agency class, Isaiah Thomas was the first player contacted by Danny Ainge when free agency officially began on July 1. When he was with Sacramento, Thomas was again a target of Ainge’s, involved in rumours that usually revolved around Rajon Rondo on multiple occasions. Yesterday, Danny finally got his man.
With Goran Dragic’s well-known disappointment at Phoenix’s front office, the Suns were exploring ways to relieve their plethora of quality guards. While it seemed only one of Thomas or Dragic would go, the Suns acquired Brandon Knight while sending both away at the deadline. In a trade that will only benefit the C’s, Thomas was received in exchange for soon-to-be free agent Marcus Thornton and Cleveland’s 2016 first-round pick, tipped to be in the high 20’s.
Standing at just 5’9”, Thomas was the 60th and last pick in the 2011 draft. After leaving Sacramento for Phoenix in 2014 free agency, he will earn $27 million over the next 4 seasons – a very friendly contract for the team. Capable of scoring big on any given night, Thomas should fit in well alongside Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley to form a strong guard rotation for the future, whether he is in the starting line-up or coming off the bench.
Not content with that transaction, the Celtics made a last-minute trade to send Tayshaun Prince away. Directing Prince to Detroit, the Celtics received Jonas Jerebko, Gigi Datome, and a very handy $7.7 million trade exception.
Jerebko is a 6’10” stretch forward, who was with the Pistons since his rookie year in 2009. While he will become a free agent after this season, Jerebko may help the Celtics in the short-term with injuries to Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger leaving them scarce at the power forward spot. Gigi Datome should be a familiar name to some Celtics fans, as the team flagged interest in the 6’8” Italian back in 2013. While he ultimately signed with the Pistons, Danny must see something in him despite his poor NBA record to date.
If nothing else, both players should be viewed as potential bonuses. The biggest part of this trade was avoiding a buyout with Prince, and the creation of another decent trade exception to be used over the next 12 months.
To pick up a player of the future in Thomas for pieces that weren’t likely to stick around, and gain a trade exception as well, Danny has done well in giving C’s fans some hope that the worst part of the rebuild is over.
– Michael (@mickyt34)