Portfolio Review: There is a difference between a team maxed out at mediocrity, and a championship team that has aged its way there. The Boston Celtics find themselves looking up at the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, but have just enough fight left to compete and perhaps take advantage of the right matchup or injury to make one last run.
On the one hand, Danny Ainge has expressed no fear in blowing this up and rebuilding should the opportunity present itself. On the other, the Celtics gave up all their young assets save for Rajon Rondo in building this team. And years of building on the fringes around the Big Three have left the team bereft of young assets and high picks that teams covet in trades.
Prime assets: Ainge has expressed a willingness to move any of the Big Three. Unfortunately each of them are long past the wrong side of 30 and short of finding a sudden contender holding onto another team's potential lottery pick to deal with–as the Clippers were this summer holding the Timberwolves unprotected pick–most teams with prime young assets aren't going to give away great potential for one or two years of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, or Ray Allen.
Their absolute ceiling might be a return of boom or bust prospects (think Michael Beasley with the Miami Heat) and mid-to-late first round picks.
That leaves Rajon Rondo as the Celtics best trade asset, and the only one capable of returning a sure All-Star. He also remains the Celtics best player. Which means any deal involving Rondo should be made for one last run or at the beginning of a complete teardown of this one-time championship team.
Worthless stock: Just about everything else. From Chris Wilcox to Jermaine O'Neal to Keyon Dooling, the rest of the Celtics rotation is comprised of replacement level players–generic skill sets whose contributions could be matched by plucking younger developmental players with bigger potential. The roster has limited flexibility to improve and the entirety of this season depends on the health and legs of Allen, Garnett, Pierce, and Rondo.
The one exception, diversifying: One trade the Celtics might be able to make without blowing up their playoffs hopes is moving Ray Allen for two rotation players of a lesser quality. Shooting is an easy skill set to find, even if it's not as potent as Allen. And more depth and versatility among the lineup might give the Celtics just enough punch.