Celtics part of three-team trade

The Celtics have traded guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors in a three-team deal that will send Toney Douglas to the Miami Heat and Joel Anthony and two draft picks to Boston.

Crawford became expendable with the expected return of Rajon Rondo, perhaps as early as Friday. Crawford was having a career season, averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 assists in 39 games.

The Celtics on Wednesday assigned Rondo to the Maine Red Claws of the D-League so he can take part in a workout. The 27-year-old All-Star point guard has yet to play this season as he works his way back from a torn ACL.

"Rajon is progressing terrifically in his rehab and this is the next step," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. "This is a brief assignment so that Rajon can participate in a workout this afternoon with the Red Claws and he will be called back up to the Celtics upon the conclusion of the workout."

The Celtics get the seldom-used 6-foot-9 Anthony and the two draft picks: a second-rounder and a protected first-round pick acquired initially from Philadelphia that could become a second-rounder.

"This was very, very, very, very hard," Heat president Pat Riley said of trading Anthony. "He was the last center that I coached, I remember in 2008. He helped us win two championships. He's part of the Heat family. We wish him nothing but the best."

Douglas was averaging 3.7 points in 24 games for Golden State.

"Toney Douglas has always been on our radar ever since the New York Knicks drafted him," Riley said. "He's always been on our mind a little bit. This will be a great opportunity for him. You don't know what's going to happen in the future, but we have six weeks to keep trying to figure that out."

The trade will save the Heat $6.4 million in luxury taxes and remaining salary this season and frees them on the $3.8 million they owed Anthony for next season. Depending on the Heat's salary situation for next season, the deal could end up saving the team more than $15 million in salary and luxury taxes for a player who played just 37 minutes this season.

The Heat are sending the Celtics a 76ers first-round pick that is lottery protected for the next two years, that will turn into two second-round picks if not conveyed. The Heat are also sending their own 2016 second-round pick to Boston.

"This really is about flexibility more than anything else. In today's game, with the punitive nature of a team that's trying to win and trying to sign players to win, it's changed the landscape in how you think," Riley said. "I mean, 10 years ago, if you wanted to waive a player, you'd waive a player. You have to give that some thought now, especially if your team is $20 million over the tax. But this was not a money move.

"This was not a money move. This is a flexibility move. We've been I think a pretty good team over the years trying to find players midseason to try to help you possibly down the stretch. We'll see how this goes."

The Celtics add to their pile of draft picks and give up a couple of guys who were not going to be re-signed after the season. The trickle-down effect means more playing time for newly acquired Jerryd Bayless and backup point guard Phil Pressey.

Boston now owns as many as 17 total picks over the next five drafts, including as many as 10 first-round selections (though lottery protections could lower that number).

"I love the idea that we're really looking with a vision to be as good as we can be for as long as we can be," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "I think we've got, not only with [the addition of] Anthony, but with all these picks that are just adding up and adding up and adding up, you're going to have a lot of flexibility moving forward."

The Celtics, losers of nine straight entering Wednesday's game against the Toronto Raptors, have not shied from the fact that this is a transition year, one where the season won't be graded on wins and losses. Boston coaches and players desire to win games, but the front office is also focused on collecting future assets and unclogging the payroll to offer greater flexibility this offseason and beyond.

Stevens clearly took pride in the growth of Crawford's game this season, the Celtics shaping him from a reserve chucker into a serviceable combo guard who won the Eastern Conference's Player of the Week award in early December.

"I appreciate all that Jordan and MarShon both did and, obviously, Jordan's growth has been well-documented," Stevens said. "I'm really happy for him from the standpoint that he continues to get better and better and better. I had a good talk with him, wished both of those guys well."

ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg and ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh contributed to this report.