Good post, but three quick points:
1. On draft night a Celtics source indicated that there’s mutual interest in a Baynes return;
2. Baynes is more a necessity than luxury. We need him for our defense, we need him to keep Horford fresh, and we need him for our chemistry;
3. I disagree on Morris’ trade value. At worst, it’s neutral, but I’ve got to think he has positive value. Morris, Nader and Yabu should all be on the block. Packaging them all along with $5 million would clear room for Baynes while opening up tax space and roster spots.
1. Mutual interest does not mean that he returns. It means depending on the Celtics tax situation and the other offers Baynes gets. There was mutual interest with Olynyk last year, but it didn’t mean he was the top priority, and when the Celtics were able to sign their top priority, there was no longer room for KO.
2. Those are all good reasons to want him back, but none of them make him a necessity. Hayward’s return is going to lead to a lot of 1-big lineups, as is Irving’s return combined with Rozier’s continued growth. Meanwhile, Horford has played the substantial majority of his minutes at the 5 for years, dating back to his time with Millsap and before that Smith in Atlanta. He can handle it.
3. While Morris should have positive trade value, there are ultimately few potential matches. Here are the five teams that are nominally playoff (not title) contenders and could absorb Morris through cap room or a trade exception and not go into the luxury tax: Charlotte, Indiana, Philadelphia, San Antonio, and Utah. A couple of those are a bit of a stretch (Charlotte in terms of contention and Utah in terms of potential cap space). Morris won’t be the top priority for any of those 5, and it’s very easy to see all of them going in another direction. Beyond that, maybe the Lakers if they miss out on their free agent targets and want to try to be more competitive while preserving cap room. Otherwise you have to look for some sort of opportunity after a tax team creates enough excess space under the tax via salary dump so that Morris wouldn’t put them back over, and that feels like something you can’t rely on.
Meanwhile, dumping Yabu isn’t going to get you very far unless Smart comes in pretty low this summer, and the cost to fill Nader’s roster space is greater than his salary, so dumping him gets you nowhere unless moving Nader himself gets you the space to keep Baynes.