If the Big Three isn't working, how about a Big Four? That seems to be the thinking in the Boston front office, with rumors that the Celtics are considering a mega-deal with the Wizards that would center around a Ray Allen for Antawan Jamison and Caron Butler swap, according to Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski.
To make the salaries work, the Celtics would send the Wizards the expiring contracts of Ray Allen, J.R. Giddens and Brian Scalabrine in return for Jamison and Butler. The proposed deal would allow Boston to rebuild on the fly, getting younger, bigger and more athletic, as they try to contend for another one or two years with their present core. A potential lineup of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Kevin Garnett would certainly thrust Boston back into Eastern Conference title contention, assuming 1) they could keep that group healthy and 2) they could figure out a way to find enough shots for everyone.
The biggest stumbling block will be whether Boston's ownership will approve taking on the $24 million in additional salary for next season that this deal would entail, as well as the $15 million Jamison is owed two years from now (which Wojnarowski points out might not have to be paid if there is a lockout). But for a team in win-now mode, those cap hits are likely of secondary importance.
As for the Wizards, this deal would clear some $23 million in cap space, and leave them with no players under contract past this season besides Andray Blatche, Nick Young, Javale McGee...and Gilbert Arenas. While it would be disappointing for the team not to get some assets (prospects or picks) back for Jamison or Butler, they'd be positioned to make a run at one of this offseason's marquee free agents, as well as to tank quite nicely for the draft lottery (according to ESPN's trade calculator, this move would make the Wizards five games worse, while the Celtics would improve a more modest two games).
This deal would also meet SB Nation's Mike Prada's criteria of moving Jamison as the team's top priority, since his deal is a year longer than Butler's, and would be more of a cap killer under a hypothetical new CBA with shorter, smaller contracts. And, of course, the elephant in the room with the Wizards continues to be what the team will do with Gilbert Arenas. If they do go ahead and void his contract, despite the likely considerable legal difficulties, they will suddenly emerge as a team with a bright, bright future. They'd more or less be able to copy the Oklahoma City Thunder's playbook, and rebuild with lottery picks and loads of cap space. Of course, they'd have to make the right decisions with those picks and free agents, but there would still be more reason for hope in Washington than there has been in quite a few years.