Can Celtics Make Another Brilliant Ray Allen Trade?
Ray has been utterly healthy since coming to Boston, though -- he's played in 94 percent of the Celtics' games in the 2-1/2 seasons, just two games fewer than ironman Paul Pierce and a full 35 games more than the younger Garnett. And he's been good, too, a key component of the 2008 title run and a stunningly efficient weapon in 2009.
This season, though, he hasn't been himself. His deep shooting -- 33.8 percent through Sunday -- is the lowest of his career. He's still more efficient than the average player, thanks to impeccable free throw shooting, but he hasn't come close to matching his production in the two previous seasons in Boston. It could be a protracted, 49-game slump of sorts. Or it could be age. Allen turns 35 in July, and he has many, many miles on his tires.
As such, rumors indicate the Celtics are looking to turn Allen's expiring contract -- $18.7 million worth -- into a younger star, hoping to keep that championship window open a bit longer. Today's leading rumor comes from CBSSports' Ken Berger, who suggests that despite his vociferous denial Ainge is in fact trying to peddle Allen for a player like Sacramento's Kevin Martin, who just happens to be a younger, not-as-good Ray Allen. And it's brilliant, if Boston can pull it off. (The Kings don't want an expiring contract for Martin -- they want a young big man, if they even consider trading Martin at all. I doubt any wedging open of a championship window includes parting with Kendrick Perkins, so it's unlikely the teams can do a deal without a third partner, and even then it really doesn't look like the Kings want to move Martin now.)
It's a brilliant idea. The Celtics' problems come on offense. Before, Allen's excellence helped Boston "get by" on that end. Now, he's part of the drain. Boston needs a two-guard to take up about one of every four or five shots while on the floor, and to hit the majority of them. Allen's shooting struggles have hurt that scheme, and Garnett's not in much of a position to help. But if Boston can get a shooting guard who can handle the shot-making duties, the defense (tops in the league through Sunday) can allow the Celtics to compete with anyone. But pulling a deal is, obviously, much harder than it sounds.
(By the way, anyone looking for Marquis Daniels to provide the answer to this riddle from within is deluded. Daniels has been among the least efficient shooters in the league his entire career. Seriously.)