Once you land the first star on your team, the next one is supposed to be much easier. It's probably a lot like becoming a millionaire. Your first million is supposed to be the hardest one to get. With the Boston Celtics, they've landed the first star this summer by convincing Al Horford to sign with them. We can quibble over the definition of a star, but Horford is one of the best big men in the NBA and someone teams were dying to sign with max cap space. Now that Danny Ainge has landed this All-Star, he's going to be even more aggressive in getting another guy to Boston.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the next trade target could be Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin. Teams are hard after Russell Westbrook now that Kevin Durant has left Oklahoma City, but Ainge won't just focus on him. He's going into the next big move looking to target any of the All-NBA caliber players available and trying to pair Griffin and Horford together may give the Celtics the best frontcourt in the NBA. Deveney says the possibility of a three-team deal involving the Sacramento Kings and Rudy Gay to the Clippers has emerged.
The likely target for the Celtics, according to front-office sources, is Clippers forward Blake Griffin. The Clippers have been weighing trading Griffin all season , and the possibility of a three-team package involving Sacramento sending Rudy Gay to the Clippers has emerged. The Celtics would give up some number of their upcoming draft picks, but opposing front-office members say they don't want to give up either Brooklyn pick Boston can own in the next two years.
The Clippers have 31-year-old point guard Chris Paul on hand, and league sources have said that if the Clippers move Griffin -- a move that Clippers coach and front-office head Doc Rivers is reluctant to make -- they will want a deal that involves draft picks and a frontline star who can keep them in Western Conference contention.
While a lot of talk can happen with most of the executives attending summer league, the ideas of this trade being discussed, the Celtics targeting Griffin, and the Clippers possibly overhauling their roster are all fascinating. The idea of the potential trade of Griffin to the Celtics, Gay to the Clippers, and picks being tossed all over the place being something the Celtics are unsure about because they don't want to give up the picks owed to them by the Brooklyn Nets is the most Danny Ainge trade rumor possible. If you can get Griffin in a trade and pair him with Al Horford, you absolutely do it -- even if you have to give up draft picks that could have a high value, in theory.
The trepidation the Celtics may have is Griffin could leave. He has a player option in 2017-18, which he'd be foolish to exercise. With the money flying around in free agency for marginal NBA players, the stars will want to cash in and start the clock on their next big contract. If you trade valuable assets for Griffin, you don't want him leaving the next summer. Plus, a lot of executives in Ainge's position want to feel confident they can sign a big name player in free agency and use the draft picks available for themselves or something else in the process. Getting Griffin and having the advantage in re-signing by being able to offer the most money is something that has to trump the idea of hanging onto picks that may not ever be as valuable as Griffin is.
Why the Clippers would even begin to entertain a trade in which they get Rudy Gay and give up Blake Griffin seems insane, but there is a little bit of reality in them doing it. Gay is not a star player by any means, but this type of deal would mean the Clippers could reshuffle the roster, remain relatively competitive in the West, and acquire the assets to retool to set up long-term sustainability. You'd have to assume one or both of the next picks are heading to the Clippers in this scenario. There would probably be other multiple picks of potentially lesser value going to Doc Rivers, as well.
The Clippers would also have to be pushing toward getting a role player like Jae Crowder or Avery Bradley to fill the hole they have on the wing. They've struggled to find an answer at small forward -- so much to the point that they acquired Lance Stephenson and 38-year old Paul Pierce for a go at the position last summer. If you can get one (or even both if we're getting crazy?) of those guys for Griffin, grab a top draft pick, and bring in Gay to remain competitive, then Rivers could be in a great position with the Clippers.
It makes more sense to try to move 31-year old Chris Paul because Griffin will be better for longer, but moving Griffin probably brings you more value in return. And executives may be a little worried about keeping their stars in good situations after Durant bounced for the Golden State Warriors.