Trading places

October 20th, 2003 | | Categories: Sports | Tags:

That’s kind of surreal. The Celtics just traded Walker and Delk to the Mavericks for Rafe LaFrentz, Jiri Welsch, and Chris Mills. Plus a first round pick.

It’s hard to make sense of this one for either team. LaFrentz has a $69 million contract which doesn’t expire till 2008 or so. He also doesn’t represent a huge upgrade at center from Tony Battie, although he’s a much better shot blocker. Chris Mills is just kind of there, and his contract expires soon. Jiri Welsch might actually be something; he’s a 6’7” point guard who played well overseas. But giving up Walker for a handful of potential seems very odd.

From Dallas’ point of view, you lose your starting center in exchange for yet another tweener. Are they going to have Antoine play center? It almost seems like they’d have to be planning something like that.

More trades coming, maybe. Hard to figure out any other explanation.

  1. Carneggy
    October 20th, 2003 at 12:14
    Reply | Quote | #1

    Here’s some explanation info.

    Firstly, LaFrentz only started half the Mavs games last season – they’ll likely start Novitzki at center and Walker at PF, would be my guess.

    LaFrentz has that shiny long-term new contract (as you note, 69 mil) – but let’s look closer.

    This year’s contract swap is pretty much a wash. Walker+Delk make 16.4M, LaFrentz/Mills/Welsch about 16.2M. But _next year_, Mills’s oversized contract is gone. The Celtics will pay LaFrentz/Welsch 10.5M, and the Mavs are looking at 17.7M for Walker/Delk.

    So the Celtics are saving about 7 million next year (and potentially more beyond that, because Walker’s contract would likely be *higher* when he re-signed after next year, or else he’d be gone with no compensation.) And now the Celtics are looking at 11+ million under the luxury tax threshhold next year. (It’s hard to say how far under the ‘cap’ they’ll be, thanks to Bird Rules/exceptions etc). But they can certainly add not only 2 picks next year, but a decent starter as well.

    In terms of ‘upgrade over Battie’, I’d expect the Celtics to use LaFrentz far more as a PF, unless we really do see the Second Coming of Vin Baker. Cause without Vin, the C’s just traded away all their PF minutes. If Baker isn’t seriously improved, who else plays the 4-spot, McCarty? LaFrentz is a big upgrade over him. And if Baker really is vastly improved (i.e. not a black hole), a C/F rotation of Baker/LaFrentz/Battie will be pretty strong for the Eastern Conference.

    You can also argue that one of Boston’s biggest weaknesses last year was Walker’s 3-point bricking. It never helps to have your best (only) rebounder out behind the arc lobbing shot after shot that don’t hit. (Which isn’t as big an issue in Dallas, where it’s expected that every player from 1-5 is capable of stepping out and bombing away; Walker will add to Western teams’ dilemnas about ‘who does Shaq/our designated-Shaq-Defender guard that won’t make him step outside where he’s useless to our D?’)

    Yeah, Boston will miss Walker’s scoring and endurance. But they’re saving themselves a sizable chunk of cash and getting a decent player in return, and it’s not like Walker had been a joy to Celtics fans for the last couple of years anyway..

  2. October 20th, 2003 at 12:17
    Reply | Quote | #2

    Yeah, I just realized LaFrentz is gonna start at PF, which is good. If Baker keeps playing well he could be a good sixth man.

    Nice catch on the contracts. OK… that makes sense. Interesting.

  3. October 20th, 2003 at 12:19
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Oh. And Chris Mills + Eric Williams is an attractive trade to any team looking to shed cap space.

  4. Carneggy
    October 20th, 2003 at 16:14
    Reply | Quote | #4

    Assuming the Celtics don’t want to sit on Mills+Williams and use the cap space themselves for the summer’s free agent pool – they’ve got a nice chunk of cash available to chase a top FA now should they want to spend, or a second-tier FA (or two) if they want to keep things a little tighter. Think the Celtics can offer Darius Miles or Q Richardson a contract the Clippers won’t match? If the Spurs don’t lock up Ginobli, think he won’t be chased? Heck, they could even make lip-service at chasing Rasheed, not that I think they’d have a serious interest.

    But yeah, if some team with veterans tanks, the Celtics would be a very enticing trade partner at the deadline. Not only can they toss Williams and Mills’ salaries, they’ve now got an extra pick to give – and for the first time in a while, the Celtics can go seriously shop for a top-end player for a playoff push. Assuming they’re making one, which in a weak East is likely. I’m sure the Blazers would love to dump salary if they can’t keep up the wins at mid-season…

  5. Carneggy
    October 20th, 2003 at 16:15
    Reply | Quote | #5

    Assuming the Celtics don’t want to sit on Mills+Williams and use the cap space themselves for the summer’s free agent pool – they’ve got a nice chunk of cash available to chase a top FA now should they want to spend, or a second-tier FA (or two) if they want to keep things a little tighter. Think the Celtics can offer Darius Miles or Q Richardson a contract the Clippers won’t match? If the Spurs don’t lock up Ginobli, think he won’t be chased? Heck, they could even make lip-service at chasing Rasheed, not that I think they’d have a serious interest.

    But yeah, if some team with veterans tanks, the Celtics would be a very enticing trade partner at the deadline. Not only can they toss Williams and Mills’ salaries, they’ve now got an extra pick to give – and for the first time in a while, the Celtics can go seriously shop for a top-end player for a playoff push. Assuming they’re making one, which in a weak East is likely. I’m sure the Blazers would love to dump salary if they can’t keep up the wins at mid-season…

  6. October 20th, 2003 at 17:28
    Reply | Quote | #6

    “they’ll likely start Novitzki at center and Walker at PF, would be my guess.”

    It is gonna be a matchup dependent thing. Fortson will likely play center against the centers who can actually play and let Dirk take the PFs. Toine probably won’t be starting at all. My best guess at the starting lineup is this: Nash, Finley, Jamison, Nowitzki, Bradley/Fortson.

    As for LaFrentz, people forget what he did in Denver. He legitimately was a 157.5 guy with a couple of blocks and threes added to that in Denver. ALso, he’s going to the Eastern Conference. I’m 5-8 and I could be a third string center in the east. LaFrentz is a decent pickup for a Boston team who realized they weren’t gonna sign Toine and wanted to get what they could for him.

    Also of note, LaFrentz is a better three point shooter than Walker anyway. So if the Cs want to bpmb away, Raef can contribute to it.

  7. Carneggy
    October 20th, 2003 at 18:02
    Reply | Quote | #7

    CNNSI noted this afternoon that insurance may pick up the tab for up to 80% of Mills’ salary for the Celtics, which would translate to roughly $5 million saved this year as well.

    Yeah, the Celtics are clearly not only saving cash but hoping LaFrentz will return to Denver form – a highly likely prospect. I’d rate him a small amount statistically worse than Toine, but much cheaper and much less of a liability to the way the Celtics team is set up.