Trade Rumors: Ray Allen to the Clippers Reality Check

It's amazing to me sometimes the types of trades that get talked about and the rumors that get "reported" at some level in the media. One recent example that I thought was hilarious was something I saw on the crawl of an ESPN game recently. It said that Marc Stein was reporting that the Mavericks might be interested in signing Steve Nash in the off-season if they whiff on both Dwight Howard and Deron Williams. Ya think? Let's see, they could have $30M or so in cap room, with no one to spend it on if Howard and Williams go elsewhere, and Nash currently looks like the third best player on market, and he used to play with Dirk in Dallas. What forensic scientist put that puzzle together? Amazing.

This Ray Allen to the Clippers rumor is a totally different kind. As far as I can tell, the source of this rumor is a Thursday report from A. Sherrod Blakely, the "Celtics Insider" for Comcast Sports. Here's the smoking gun quote:

Among those believed to have some interest in Allen, are the Los Angeles Clippers. With the season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups, the Clippers have a huge void to fill at the shooting guard position.

The first thing you need to notice there is that the statement is astoundingly vague. The Clippers are "believed to have some interest." And while he attributes other aspects of his overall story about Allen and Paul Pierce being shopped to unnamed sources, he doesn't even bother to do that here. Bottom line: the Clippers might be interested, though he didn't necessarily hear that they were.

Why wouldn't the Clippers be interested? Allen would be perfect for them. But what exactly do the Clippers have to offer the Celtics in return? You have to ask yourself -- why are the Celtics shopping Ray Allen? Is it to save money? No. Allen's $10M contract is expiring. The Celtics one and only reason to shop their veterans is to begin rebuilding, and so they would only make any trade for the expiring Allen that nets them promising young prospects and/or decent draft picks in return.

First things first, I'll remind everyone that trade exceptions are a non-factor here. Allen makes more than either exception the Clippers have, and you can't combine exceptions in any way to match salaries -- not with each other, not with other players, not at all. Besides, as we've already established, the Celtics aren't trading Allen, who's expiring anyway, to save money.

Now, eliminating Blake Griffin and Chris Paul from the equation on the Clippers side, who do you have left? DeAndre Jordan? Would you trade DeAndre Jordan straight up for a one year rental on Ray Allen? No? Neither would I. The only other name I see on the entire Clippers roster that would hold any interest for the Celtics is Eric Bledsoe.

So the heart of this supposed Clippers-Celtics deal would have to be Bledsoe for Allen. Salary filler would come from Randy Foye and Brian Cook. Bledsoe, Foye and Cook for Allen works under CBA rules. The Clippers would obviously do that trade in a heartbeat, but something tells me the Celtics think they can do a little better than Bledsoe. So the trade has to be improved for the Celtics. They don't have any bad contracts on their books, so you can't sweeten the deal by taking on their baggage. You have to give them something, and draft picks is the obvious answer.

The problem is, the Clippers don't have a first round draft pick this year, and can't trade a first round draft pick next year because of the Stepien rule. In fact, it's more complex than that because the 2012 pick (coincidentally already property of the Celtics) is conditional, but let's assume that they could make the wording of the trade sufficiently airtight to offer a first round pick in 2014. Would the Celtics take that deal?

Bottom line is that this rumor seems to be a pipe dream. But if there's any truth to it, the only possible trade is Allen for Bledsoe, Foye, Cook and whatever draft picks the Clippers can and would part with to seal the deal. For a one year rental on Allen.

Or you could wait until the off season and offer Allen the full mid level exception to play with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

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