The Boston Celtics made the choice to let go of Avery Bradley on Friday and the Dallas Mavericks were not the team receiving him…which is a mistake.
Every team in the league needs a guy like Avery Bradley.
When guards around the league are asked about who the best wing defenders in the game are, typically, Avery Bradley is always brought up. We even saw the outpouring of support for Bradley whenever the NBA announced their All-Defensive teams and Bradley was not on any of them.
Last year, in Boston, one of the bigger storylines surrounded Isaiah Thomas on the defensive side of the ball. Boston had to hide Thomas at times and that was possible by having one of, if not the best, point guard defender in the game in Bradley alongside of him.
Now, Avery Bradley is a Detroit Piston.
Forcing a cap space conundrum, Boston began fielding the trade market for some of their veterans after they came to terms with Gordon Hayward in free agency. Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley all heard their names being thrown around.
Teams around the league obviously knew of Boston’s situation, therefore forcing the trade value for all three players to plummet. Crowder is still under a lucrative contract, whereas Smart and Bradley are due for extensions.
This was a chance for Dallas to jump on a situation similar to when they jumped on Harrison Barnes after Kevin Durant picked Golden State.
To pry Bradley from Boston, many speculated it would take a first round pick or some young assets. But when the deal became official, all it took for Detroit was the 27-year-old Marcus Morris.
That’s all it took. That’s all it took to get arguably the best point guard defender in the game. All because Boston needed to create cap space and he was set to his free agency next summer.
If I was Dallas, I would have leaped at the opportunity, especially after drafting Dennis Smith Jr.
Smith Jr. comes into Dallas as a 6’3″ point guard with a 6’3″ wingspan. Defense was never on the list of “strengths” when it came to describing Smith Jr. in college. This is why in part, I’m not the biggest fan of Smith Jr. and Seth Curry sharing the same back court.
Dallas could have created a similar back court to the one Boston had this past season except you wouldn’t have to ‘hide’ Smith Jr. on defense as much as Boston did with Thomas.
In addition to being that elite defender in the back court, Bradley also put up career averages in points per game (16.3), assists (2.2), and rebounds (6.1). But he did miss 27 games due to injury.
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So what could Dallas have given up in a deal to get Bradley that would have satisfied Boston both salary cap wise and roster wise?
Bradley is on the books for $8.8 million this season, therefore making the $5 million cap number of Marcus Morris attractive.
The first natural asset Dallas could have offered would have been Seth Curry and his $3 million cap number for this season. Even though Curry is just now breaking out into the league, him and Bradley are both just 26 years old.
This would have saved Boston close to $6 million and could have given them extra three-point shooting off the bench alongside of Marcus Smart. Dallas would have turned around and paired their newly drafted Smith Jr. with a combo guard that could guard any of the best point guards in the league.
Dallas could have also entertained three team trades with Dwight Powell or gauged Boston’s interest in Dorian Finney-Smith and/or Salah Mejri.
In regards to free agency next offseason, I would have been completely fine handing Bradley close to $20 million a year to form a core of Smith Jr., Bradley, Noel and Barnes heading into the future.
We will never know if Dallas could have realistically landed Avery Bradley, but considering the price paid, Dallas missed out on a great opportunity to land a solid, two-way player.