Tayshaun Prince was shipped to the Celtics in the deal that sent Jeff Green to the Memphis Grizzlies. Prince (at 34 years old) has now reached the twilight of his career and the Celtics need to decide how they can make Prince a viable trade asset. Last night’s 19 point effort against the Jazz might just be a good start.
My memories of a young Tayshaun Prince date back to the days of the 2004 Pistons championship team. Prince was the Swiss Army Knife of that Detroit team; he could rebound, score and defend. Tayshaun proved his worth as a four time NBA All-Defensive Second teamer and enough of an offensive player to be one of the most well rounded players at the small forward position. Sadly that Tayshaun is long gone.
The Tayshaun Prince of now is nothing more than a below average role player who’s having his second worst shooting season in his career (a mediocre .419 FG%) while also posting the second worse PER of his career (10.4 , according to Basketball Reference). He’s dropped off as an offensive player significantly, with the 2014-2015 season bringing his lowest scoring and rebounding rates since his rookie year. Tayshaun brings little on court value. His real value is off the court.
True, Prince has shown several flashes of brilliance. Just last night against the Jazz he logged 30 minutes, scoring 19 points, factoring in as a big part in the Celtics victory over Utah. Prince also brings a veteran presence and professional attitude that the young Celtics locker room could use.
Steve Bulpett over at the Boston Herald has noted that Brad Stevens likes Prince’s veteran leadership:
And there is also the need to develop the young players on hand, and the C’s believe it’s important to have that happen in an environment where the club is competitive. Stevens believes Prince can help in this regard, both with his talent and leadership.
That veteran leadership comes at a price however as Prince earns more than double the salary of Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard combined. Prince is slated to make a little over $7.7 million this season. A number of teams could use Prince’s expiring contract to shed cap room before this summer’s free agency; but that expiring contract will come at a steep price.
Draft pick wizard Danny Ainge is more than likely demanding a first round pick, yet it remains to be seen if teams will cough that up just for cap space. Prince is arguably the best trade piece this team has, and he’ll become more and more important as the trade deadline approaches.
If the Celtics decide to trade Prince (the most likely outcome) they should aim for a shot blocking center or another draft pick. Newly aquired Shavlik Randolph simply won’t cut it. Ever since the team traded Brandan Wright they are desperately lacking an inside presence. Viable options could be the Hornet’s Bismack Biyombo, the Rocket’s Joey Dorsey, or new free agent Samuel Dalembert.
Stevens will continue to give Prince the minutes, showcasing the veteran for any potential suitors. While it’s true that Tayshaun could be a worthwhile mentor to young wings such as Jae Crowder and James Young, Gerald Wallace has filled the mentor role well thus making Prince more redundant. Sorry Tayshaun, but those Piston memories are long gone. Its time for Trader Danny to add another draft pick to the war chest.
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