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Avery Bradley Was a Better Move for the Pistons Than Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Plus: The Morris twins are set to meet in the playoffs

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Deal

Boston reportedly sends Avery Bradley and a 2019 second-round pick to Detroit for Marcus Morris, and not all parties (#HasAveryLandedYet) are currently aware.

What’s Boston Up To?

The difference in Bradley’s contract and Morris’s is minimal, about $3.4 million, but crucial: It’s enough to sign the already-committed Gordon Hayward to his promised four-year, $128 million maximum contract. The move gives the Celtics front office $30.8 million ($1.1 million over Hayward’s 2017–18 due), which opens another move: Ditching Jordan Mickey or Demetrius Jackson would give Boston space to sign 2016 first-round pick Guerschon Yabusele.

If Isaiah Thomas was the prized Thanksgiving turkey on Boston’s table last season, Bradley was the gravy. Nothing works as well without him, and the Celtics will miss the two-time All-Defensive guard on both ends. Bradley locked down opponents when Thomas could not, and shot the second-best on the other end of the perimeter (of all Celtics who averaged at least one 3-point attempt a game).

So why deal him, and not one of the 43 other guard-wing tweeners on Boston’s roster along with, I don’t know, Jae Crowder?

OK, so scratch that. Bradley’s contract is set to expire next season, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the two-way guard was unsure of how he fit with the future of the franchise. He also wants to get paid next year — don’t we all, except Dirk — and Boston isn’t equipped to offer Bradley his worth in a new contract. The question is, when the time comes, will Detroit?

What’s Stan Van Gundy Doing?

The Pistons front office agreed to terms with guard Langston Galloway on the first day of free agency to a three-year, $21 million deal that hard-capped Van Gundy out of the tiny bit of flexibility Detroit was working with. The signing raised eyebrows: How would the Pistons ever reopen the payroll enough to retain restricted free agent Kentavious Caldwell-Pope?

All season, Caldwell-Pope was rumored to command a maximum contract this summer. And thanks to his invaluable defense, it looked like Detroit was going to offer just that to the 24-year-old. With Bradley, the Pistons get a better defensive leader and a touch better on offense. KCP’s production dipped after the All-Star break, and he put up just 13.8 points a game on 39.9 percent shooting on the season. Bradley, in the same 33 minutes that Caldwell-Pope averaged, scored 16.3 points with a 46.3 percent accuracy.

Detroit will pay $3.4 million more in guaranteed contracts for the 2017–18 season after exchanging Morris’s for Bradley’s. Clearing enough space for KCP doesn’t seem possible now, and the Pistons renounced his rights Friday. He’ll enter unrestricted free agency kind of, um, restricted: If the Wizards, for example, don’t match Brooklyn’s offer sheet for Otto Porter Jr., one of the most realistic max-deal suitors in the Nets will no longer have room.

What’s Morris Mean for Boston?

Losing Bradley’s outside game could jam Boston’s half-court spacing, but Ringer staffer Kevin O’Connor thinks it could actually be good for the offense. While the Celtics lost the off-screen action Bradley thrived in, Morris is still a pick-and-pop threat. Here’s O’Connor:

On the court with Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, Morris’s production was hampered. Though he won’t be as high of an option in Boston, he may find more room to thrive.

The Real Consequence

I know everyone thinks this will cement our short-lived Celtics-Wizards rivalry from last season. But imagining Markieff vs. Marcus in a Funeral Game is unexciting when considering how much fun they are when working together. Nope. I don’t mean Kansas or Phoenix. What matters — what really, really matters — is that a cold case will now forever remain open: If Boston and Washington match up again this postseason, a Morris will be on each roster, so there’s no longer space in conspiracy corner to speculate that Marcus, disguised as his twin brother, could sub in for Washington.