In his Decision 2.0 Column, the always-on point Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote about the impact LeBron James waiting to but eventually deciding on Cleveland had on the entire NBA landscape. One thing Lowe reported in the columns as that the Boston Celtics actually offered Brandon Bass to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for their traded player exception (worth $7 million), likely a guy like Festus Ezeli, and presumably a pick. The Warriors, like many teams, were stuck in limbo waiting for James to make a decision and for the free agency flood gates to open. They had bigger plans for that trade exception, likely some sort of sign-n-trade.
But LeBron took a little while to decide, and the Warriors trade exception expired Thursday at midnight. It went unused. Brandon Bass remains in a Celtics uniform.
It should be no surprise that the Celtics attempted to move Bass for whatever they could, they’ve been doing so for nearly two years. Now, on an expiring deal worth $6.9 million, Bass emerges as an even more attractive trade target for a team thinking they can contend. Bass has played a big role on the Celtics in the three years he’s been here and his effort is honorable, but it’s unlikely that either he or Danny Ainge see him as part of the teams long-term future. Despite his defensive versatility and efficient mid-range scoring, all Brandon Bass is doing at this point for the Celtics is taking minutes away from both Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk at the power forward spot.
Right now, Bass is a better overall player than both Sullinger and Olynyk. That’s why I still expect him to get traded at the deadline. Bass may not be part of the Celtics long-term plan, but he could certainly be a short-term fix for a contender needing reliable depth down low.
Bas shot 50.7% from the left elbow last season, 55.9% from the left baseline, and 55.6% from the right baseline. Those are all well above league average for any position at those spots. He’s a black hole on offense who doesn’t create for himself and has earned the nickname “no pass Bass” but give him the ball in a catch-n-shoot, or one-dribble, position inside the arc and he’s money. He’s not a true stretch four seeing as he doesn’t shoot three but Bass can at least give you a little spacing.
Going off analytics, Brandon Bass is a complete mystery. The Celtics overall plus-minus and net rating were significantly worse when Bass was on the floor in ’13-’14. Yet his individual defensive rating and point-per-play were some of the highest on the team. Synergy ranks Bass as one of the NBA’s best defenders on spot-up jumpers, pick-n-rolls, and individual isolation plays. Remember the last time the Celtics were in the playoffs and Carmelo shot just 41% with Bass guarding him?
Bass is quick on his feet for a natural power forward and that allows him to guard some small forwards in certain lineups. That is a very valuable skill in todays NBA. As is his ability to hit jumpers consistently to provide spacing in the paint.
Brandon Bass can certainly help a lot of teams in this league and given his expiring deal Danny Ainge will be getting calls about Bass throughout the season and up to the deadline.