Five trade targets for Celtics at NBA trade deadline
Five trade targets for Celtics at NBA trade deadline
TORONTO – Success has a way of blinding a team of its deficiencies.
That’s certainly not the case with the Boston Celtics (32-23) as they hit the All-Star break having won 10 of their last 12 which includes a 139-134 overtime win on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“We can get better, we have to get better defensively, get back to guarding the way we want to,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “There’s a lot of room to improve with the group that’s in there.”
With boatloads of draft picks and young talent that’s starting to get a better feel for how they can make an impact on this level, Danny Ainge will certainly think long and hard about moves that could potentially help a Celtics team that’s right now playing at a level that puts them among the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Here we take a look at five players the Celtics should give some serious thought to pursuing in these days leading up to next week’s trade deadline.
5. Tobias Harris, Orlando
Reports out of Orlando indicate that the 6-foot-8 small forward is a player that the Magic are at least open to fielding calls and inquiries about between now and the trade deadline.
Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract this summer but that won’t prevent him from being moved at the deadline.
He has had a solid season individually, but Harris has not been able to make that leap from being a good NBA scorer to an all-star caliber player who can go get buckets consistency.
While the Celtics – and most teams for that matter – love the skills he brings, you have to wonder if he’ll present some of the same challenges Boston has had with Kelly Olynyk which is a player whose aggression comes and goes. Still, this 23-year-old has tremendous upside and at the very least is worth Ainge having a discussion about making a deal to acquire him.
4. Thaddeus Young, Brooklyn Nets
Young has never really had a clear, ironclad position in the NBA. But that hasn’t prevented him from being a really good, solid role player who can score the ball in a multitude of ways whether it’s in transition, back to the basket or off the dribble.
His versatility will make him a coveted man in the coming days. Among the teams expected to make a strong run at him is Toronto who feels they are one or two players away from having what it takes to knock Cleveland off in the East. Could Young be that guy? We’ll find out soon.
3. Ryan Anderson, New Orleans
He hits the free agent market this summer, so the Pelicans may be interested in moving him now so that they can get something in return for him.
Anderson is ideally suited to play the way Brad Stevens loves to use power forwards and centers. At 6-foot-10 he can stretch the floor well beyond 3-point range. And when defenses put a smaller defender on him to try and take away the 3-point shot, Anderson is strong and savvy enough to go to work in the post.
He has been among the NBA’s best scorers off the bench this season at 16.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game and would be looked upon to play a similar role with the Green Team.
Acquiring him would almost certainly mean parting ways with Kelly Olynyk and/or Jared Sullinger. In Olynyk, you’re talking about a 7-footer who connects on more than 41 percent of his 3s while Sullinger has been the Celtics’ best rebounder at 8.5 per game.
Either player can certainly help the face of the Pelicans’ franchise, Anthony Davis.
And Anderson would give Boston another stretch big who can also provide some scoring punch around the rim.
But defensively, adding him would be a step back which is why Boston will proceed cautiously as it relates to Anderson.
2. Dwight Howard, Houston
I’m not disillusioned to the fact that Howard isn’t anywhere close to being the dominant big man he was just a few short years ago. But even now with him on the back-nine of his career, Howard is still a double-double guy. It would be nice if that continued for him in Boston, but he doesn’t need him to be that guy anymore, not with this team. More than anything, the Celtics need a low-post center who can defend which is still something that the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year does well.
We have seen in recent weeks how the Celtics have struggled defensively against opposing big men. Howard doesn’t by any means solve all of Boston’s problems when it comes to defending opposing big men.
But if the Celtics are starting to give serious thought to making a run towards the Eastern Conference finals or even deeper into the postseason than that, they have to add a defensive-minded big man.
1. Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Hands-down the best fit for Boston of the potential players expected to be made available for trade between now and next week’s deadline.
The Celtics will have to give up a combination of young talent (Jared Sullinger and/or Kelly Olynyk), draft picks (that’s plural not singular) and in all likelihood an expiring contract (Paging David Lee).
All that is feasible from the Celtics’ perspective, well aware that adding Horford to the mix would indeed be a game-changer for Boston and the team’s potential to make a run at getting to the NBA Finals. Cleveland is already built for a return trip to the Finals, and Toronto feels they’re one or two moves away from being in that conversation.
Horford doesn’t put you over the top if you’re Boston, but he does put you in the conversation which is pretty amazing when you consider a year ago this time the Celtics were seemingly bound for another trip to the lottery and with a move or two at the deadline, went on a run that landed them in the playoffs.