BOSTON – If you didn’t know better, you would swear we’re coming up on the trade deadline – not the NBA draft – with all the activity that’s happening throughout the league.
These are stormy times in the NBA, and the Boston Celtics are at the eye of it.
Just about every rumored deal and transaction that has gone down of late has in some way been connected with the Celtics.
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The trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets included the 27th overall pick going to the Lakers, a pick that the Celtics swapped with Brooklyn for what ultimately became the top overall pick for Boston (which they traded away to Philadelphia for the No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder).
And the rumored players on the move – Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George and most recently, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis – have all been tied to the Celtics in some fashion.
It’s not unusual for the NBA to be so active, but this time of year?
“You’re right. You don’t see this kind of activity so close to draft,” one league executive told CSNNE.com. “But the circumstances right now for teams and the players being talked about, that’s not normal either.”
Especially Paul George.
His agent recently informed the Pacers that his client was not planning to sign a long-term extension with Indiana, a clear sign that George has every intention of returning to his home state of California and playing for the Los Angeles Lakers shortly after he hits free agency in the summer of 2018.
The Celtics and other playoff-caliber teams might have been interested in making a run at George as a one-year rental, with the hope being that a successful run would change his mind about playing for the Lakers.
Sensing this possibility, the Lakers cleared $54 million in salary cap space by making the trade with the Nets and are engaged in trade talks with Indiana for George right now.
The Celtics weren’t expected to make a run at George, but the move by the Lakers makes it even more unlikely that Boston or any other playoff-caliber team would make an offer for him.
Another player Boston has been linked to is Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, a player that the Celtics have had interest in previously but have since cooled on acquiring him. CSN Chicago’s Vincent Goodwill reported that if Butler is traded, Cleveland or Boston will likely be his destination.
And then there’s New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, an unexpected talent that the Knicks are apparently willing to listen to trade offers for.
Porzingis’ availability will draw plenty of suitors, and the Celtics not surprisingly will be among them.
The Celtics can put together a trade package that would include the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft.
And if Boston doesn’t want to do that, the Celtics might be able to put together a package that would include either the 2018 pick Boston will get from Brooklyn (likely a top-5 selection), or the 2018 pick that they will get from the Los Angeles Lakers via Philadelphia.
There’s no telling how any of this will play out, or whether any of the aforementioned players will wind up in a Celtics uniform.
But one thing we know is true.
In these turbulent times of uncertainty in the NBA, the Boston Celtics remain well entrenched in the eye of the storm.