Two days ago I released an article on potential buyers and sellers at the trade deadline. But now it’s time to focus on the hometown team, the Boston Celtics. The C’s are currently third in the Eastern Conference and are 8-2 in their last 10 games played. But I wouldn’t expect the Celtics to be quiet at the deadline.
The Celtics have already been rumored in a couple of blockbuster deals, but nothing has come to fruition yet. Big names like Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets) and Al Horford (Atlanta Hawks) have been mentioned as potential candidates to join the green and white. And of course no Celtics trade rumor would be complete without DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), who the Celtics have been connected to since ‘Nam. While no offers or serious negotiations have been made, it seems as though general manager Danny Ainge isn’t going to sit around quietly as the deadline approaches.
Last season, Boston essentially stole Isaiah Thomas from his situation in Phoenix, and the move pushed the Celtics into the playoffs, and even got Isaiah into the All-Star game this year. But the Celtics aren’t just looking to get into the playoffs this time around, they’re in it to make a deep playoff run.
Starting with the potential move with Al Horford, the Celtics also would have received Kyle Korver, who happens to be one of the best three point shooters in the NBA. Al Horford would certainly fit the scheme for head coach Brad Stevens, as he loves to stretch the floor with his big men. Korver fits in as a shooter that the Celtics desperately need, as Boston ranks 23rd in the league in three point accuracy.
At first, the deal didn’t seem realistic, but the Hawks have also been shopping Jeff Teague, which would mean a complete blow up of a roster that won the most games in the East last year. I’m not here to speculate a trade package for Horford and Korver, but one would imagine they would field at least one of the Celtics’ first round picks this season, potentially Avery Bradley and depending on salary cap issues, David Lee.
Moving on to Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, both deals seemed like long shots and never really led anywhere, to my relief. Love fits the system, but acquiring Carmelo Anthony would have been a terrible move. One of the best parts about this Celtics team is that they don’t have a superstar and play with great chemistry on the court. Melo has never been able to play in a system and being in Boston would be no different.
Boston has also been linked to Rockets center Dwight Howard, who has a player option following this season. He’s the same as Carmelo, as he only plays for himself and not a team (remember his stints in Orlando and LA?), but Dwight is more of a locker room poison than Carmelo will ever be. But Howard would fit a need in that Boston needs a shot blocker, as the Celtics rank 23rd in blocks per game. The asking price for Howard would be astronomically high, even though D12 will most likely decline his player option of $23 million.
With those players seemingly out of the mix, who should the Celtics target? The first thing to realize is that the Celtics have the assets to get any deal done they wanted to. Boston has three first rounders this year, and two in 2017 and 2018, plus developing young players and expiring contracts that are always commodities for teams looking to rebuild.
The ultimate target is DeMarcus Cousins. He’s been on trade radars for Danny Ainge for years and with Sacramento falling off the wagon again this year, they’ll be making some moves. Unfortunately for Boston, getting Cousins would require moving the Brooklyn Nets’ pick, which looks like a lock to be a top five pick come lottery night. The Celtics would also likely have to trade some of their other young, tangible assets.
Cousins would provide a go-to option down low on the post. With Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger being better from outside than on the block, Cousins would get a touch every time down the court. But Boogie isn’t just limited to the post, as he’s added a three point shot to his repertoire, making him arguably the toughest cover in the NBA. Cousins has previous experience playing with Isaiah Thomas from Isaiah’s time in SacTown, which is another plus for adding the All-Star center.
The Horford and Korver deal would also intrigue Boston’s brass, as it likely wouldn’t include Brooklyn’s pick. They can each spread the floor and Horford is an extremely underrated shot blocker. The move would obviously force the Celtics to sacrifice some of their bench depth, but incorporated Horford into the starting lineup with Korver likely coming off the bench and the Celtics most likely win that deal. Having Korver, Marcus Smart, Olynyk and Evan Turner coming off the pine come playoff time would be the best bench unit in the NBA, hands down. While I think the Hawks blowing up their roster is highly unlikely, crazier things have happened.
Another option would be Danilo Gallinari out of Denver. He’s a free agent after this season and would add some much needed wing depth and provide a scoring punch. He wouldn’t command much of a blockbuster package, due to his half year rental status and his injury history, but the Nuggets wingman still holds value. He’s playing the best basketball of his career, (likely due to the fact that he’s in contract year and it’s a really shallow thing that athletes do) so Denver might want to move him while the iron is still hot. A first round pick, David Lee and possibly Jared Sullinger might be a package Denver would field.
The Celtics have a perfect storm brewing in front of them. They have assets, a desirable market, and a roster on the verge of joining the NBA’s elite. They have a brilliant coach and a system that doesn’t focus on just one player. The Celtics could go out and get everyone that isn’t named Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook. They need to go after a star to put this team over the edge. Danny Ainge has pulled some major strings in his time as GM. Just look at his work acquiring and eventually trading KG, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo. He doesn’t always make the splashy move, but he always makes the right one. And if he makes any move at the deadline, I have the utmost confidence that it will be the right move for the franchise, as if he needs my approval.
Cover Photo via Vavel.com