Celtics trade Fab Melo to Grizzlies for Donte Greene
The Celtics traded center Fab Melo and cash considerations to the Grizzlies on Thursday for forward Donte Greene.
Melo, 23, averaged 1.2 points and 0.5 rebounds in only six games for the Celtics last season. The No. 22 pick in the 2012 draft, Melo spent most of last season with Boston’s D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. There, he averaged 9.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocks.
Greene, 25, did not play last season after breaking his ankle in August 2012. A 2008 first-round pick, Greene holds career averages of 6.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in four seasons with the Kings. He signed a minimum salary contract with Memphis in April that extended through to the 2013-14 season, although his $1 million salary next year is fully nonguaranteed.
It’s unusual for a team, especially one in the midst of a rebuild, to cut ties with a young 7-footer so quickly after drafting him, but the Celtics are in a unique position with regard to Melo. One: Their new coach, Brad Stevens, obviously wasn’t in place when Melo was selected. Two: The Celtics are in transition after trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett but their payroll still hovers around the luxury-tax line; Boston will pay sizable contracts to the likes of Rajon Rondo, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Jeff Green. Three: Melo’s rookie year highlight was either suffering a concussion by running into his hotel doorway or breaking a chair during his rookie photo shoot.
Of the doorway concussion, then-Celtics coach Doc Rivers famously compared his rookie to quirky longtime Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez.
“What did you have? Manny being Manny? Five years when Fab’s playing terrific for us here, we’re going to have some Fab being Fab moments,” Rivers said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “He just took kind of a head start. . . . Literally.”
Ultimately, the financial issues loom largest in Boston’s thinking here. Trading Melo’s $1.3 million salary and subsequently releasing Greene would bring Boston’s payroll from $72.5 million to $71.2 million, according to ShamSports.com. The NBA’s luxury-tax line is set at $71.7 million this season, and moving below that line will allow the Celtics to be tax recipients rather than payers.
For their bookkeeping assist, the Grizzlies get a cheap ride on the Fab Melo Experience. With a stacked big man rotation that includes Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Kosta Koufos and Ed Davis, Memphis can take its time and handle Melo like the project that he is.