Celtics

Celtics Mailbag: Why trade proposals for Kevin Love, others probably won't work

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Celtics Mailbag: Why trade proposals for Kevin Love, others probably won't work

Sunday is widely regarded as the start of NBA trade season. Most of the players signed by teams this summer — and there were a LOT of them — are eligible to be traded on December 15, which will open the floodgates for teams to start roster maneuvering.

You can always sense trade season is approaching when the Celtics Mailbag begins to brim with questions about potential swaps that Boston could make. Most are just pipe dreams that lack any financial reality, but some do make you think.

With that in mind, we figured we’d open this week’s ‘bag with a quick reminder on a few key points:

1. RESTRICTIONS

On December 15, the trade restrictions lift on Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier, and Javonte Green. Daniel Theis, also signed this summer, can’t be traded until January 15.

The Celtics are hard-capped after landing Walker via sign-and-trade but are unlikely to trade anywhere close to that mark, with no desire to wade into the luxury tax, which they are steamrolling towards in future seasons.

2. DRAFT ASSETS

The Celtics have as many as six potential picks in the 2020 draft. Alas, half of those could be eliminated due to restrictions, and the ones they do end up with won’t be anywhere near as glitzy as recent seasons.

Boston currently projects at picks 28 (its own), 30 (Milwaukee’s first), and 49 (via the Nets). Memphis owns the sixth-worst record in basketball and the new lottery format could add some intrigue to whether that pick conveys this season (Boston might be just as content for it to roll over to unprotected next year despite the young talent on Memphis’ roster). The Atlanta second is floatsam and Boston’s own second should end up in Charlotte if the team finishes among the East’s elite.

After watching the 2019 Kings pick plummet in value, should Boston aggressively shop that Grizzlies pick? Should the Celtics move their late first-round picks or save them for swings of the bat on low-cost talent that will be needed to fill out a very costly top half of the roster? These are the tough decisions ahead for Boston’s front office.

3. MOVABLE SALARIES

Here’s the biggest hitch in any Boston maneuvering: They don’t have a lot of mid-tier salaries. They’ve got really expensive contracts — Walker and Hayward are both at $32.7 million — but then it drops to Marcus Smart at $12.5 million. It’s hard to piece together deals that make sense for Boston given the price it would have to pay to acquire established talent. And it’s the reason we think that, outside of a minor splash, the more likely play is for Boston to scour the waiver wire later in the year.

But we’re in for a lot of questions about any and every available big. For instance: 

Do you think Danny kicks the tires on a Kevin Love trade? — @jfesgreen

Sub out “Kevin Love” for whatever 6-foot-9 and taller player becomes available next. But, since Love is in the headlines for his desire to get out of Cleveland, let’s run down why his next destination won’t be Boston:

  1. Love makes $28.9 million in the first year of a long-term deal. The Celtics would have to give up Hayward — or Smart and a whole bunch of assets — to make the money work. Neither is happening.
  2. Love’s long-term deal (and his injury history) makes his pact prohibitive for many teams, but especially a Boston team that’s already got $95 million in guaranteed salary next season, and that’s while prepping for Jayson Tatum to ink what will almost assuredly be a max-salary extension next summer. If Hayward comes back, that number really balloons.
  3. Love is an excellent rebounder, but he’s not the Joel Embiid/Giannis Antetokounmpo stopper that everyone seems to think this team needs come playoff time. Yes, Love is a great outlet passer and offensive talent, but Boston ranks seventh in offensive rating already despite rarely having its full complement of players.

CONCLUSION

All of this is to highlight that, if Boston makes a move, we’re assuming it’d be one with smaller salaries and picks to try to upgrade their bench or big-man depth. We don’t see a big-splash move that doesn’t come without the pain point of sending out one of the team’s top five players.

With all that in mind, let’s rip through some letters:

Who do you think the Celtics are most likely to trade for? — @_smurph22

The name you’ll hear ad nauseam is Wizards backup big man Davis Bertans. It’s a digestible salary ($7 million expiring) for a team that should desire to fetch future assets. The Latvian Laser gives you another floor-stretcher with a penchant for 3s. But we’re not sure he offers much of an upgrade, defensively, over someone like Daniel Theis when it comes to the bigs the Celtics will be tasked with defending in the playoffs. But if there’s a move made, our guess it would be someone akin to Bertans who could fill a role off the bench or provide a scoring burst if bench scoring doesn’t improve when the Celtics are at full health.

You gotta think the Celtics can pry someone like Cauley-Stein from Golden State. Low salary, team's going nowhere, why not throw a first-round pick in a deal? — @PGliddy85

A first-round pick might be a steep price for a playoff rental who can move on after the season and, yet, these are the sort of moves the team will have to consider. The question again: Is this player enough of an upgrade over what you have to warrant moving a pick for him?

Give me Tristan Thompson. — @Wsutt

Now there’s a Cavalier big that makes sense in green. Alas, the Celtics would have to hope he reaches the buyout market to have any realistic shot at acquiring him. Boston could make a strong playing-time pitch to a quality big man with the hope that that player would be intrigued by a playoff run.

How will the Celtics manage the roster for next year with upcoming picks?  —  @theonlyssg

The Celtics have only nine guaranteed players for next season, but that number could jump up in a hurry if Hayward and Kanter opt into the final years of their deals and if the team elects to hang onto players like Theis, Semi Ojeleye, and Javonte Green (and their two-way players — Tacko Fall and Tremont Waters — are seemingly ticketed for the parent club next year). Still, Boston would probably want to keep a pick or two to maintain a steady flow of young, cost-controlled talent as the price of the roster balloons.

Is it humanly possible to trade Marcus Smart if you’re the Celtics? —  @brycesburner

Danny Ainge would trade one of his kids for a future pick. But there would be riots if they traded Smart. Let’s move on. And fast.

Thoughts on which rookie earns the most minutes by season's end? — @jwaks

It’s gotta be Grant Williams, assuming good health for Boston’s perimeter players. Even when Romeo Langford gets a solid stretch of decent health, it will be tough for him or Javonte Green to crack the wing rotation regularly. Carsen Edwards could make a push if he starts to consistently knock down shots. Even though he’s struggled with his own shot, Williams can impact the game positively in other ways, particularly his screening. The Celtics don’t have a lot of minutes at the big-man spots given their penchant for small ball, but Williams is the only rookie who’s been trusted in crunch time so that speaks volumes about Stevens’ trust in him.

Yes or no on the Green Goblin nickname for JB? I still like Trouble 07 for JB and JT. — @BostonsportZ

Green Goblin is terrible. Just awful. I’ll listen to the idea of calling him the Green Lob-lin when he throws down and/or delivers an alley-oop. Downtown Jaylen Brown is perfectly acceptable after 3s. I would also be OK with green-lighting an NBC Sports Boston series where we follow Brown around as he babysits Tatum’s son in the new series, “Deuce and Juice."

What pieces still do the Celtics need to be legitimate championship contenders? Who we do trade for? — @trepDbest

There’s a case to be made that the formula to title contention might be as simple as health, chemistry, and development. The Celtics, with the progress made by players like Tatum and Brown, and the return to health of Hayward, have a lot more pure talent than maybe we gave them credit for entering the season. If some of the young pieces develop consistency, this team might be ready to compete with what they’ve got.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics vs. Magic odds: Best NBA picks with C's as surprising underdogs

Celtics vs. Magic odds: Best NBA picks with C's as surprising underdogs

The sportsbooks apparently aren't putting much stock into the NBA standings for the Boston Celtics' matchup with the Orlando Magic.

The Celtics are listed as 1.5-point underdogs for Friday's game against the Magic despite Orlando entering with a 21-24 record, nine games behind the 29-14 C's.

Boston won't look like the same team that blew out the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, though. Jayson Tatum and Enes Kanter already have been ruled out with injuries, while Jaylen Brown is questionable as he recovers from a sprained ankle.

Do those injuries give the Magic an edge, or will the Celtics prove the sportsbooks wrong by notching their third consecutive win?

Below are our betting predictions for Celtics-Magic, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic, 7 p.m. ET

Moneyline: The Celtics have lost four of their last five games to Orlando, which may also explain why they're underdogs. But the Magic have dropped three of four, while Boston rolled without Brown on Wednesday night. I'll take the money on the Celtics (+105).

Point Spread: The beauty of these Celtics (+1.5) is that Tatum and Brown's absence just means more opportunities for Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart. Boston has covered in five of its last seven games despite dealing with several injuries and should get the job done here.

Point Total: The over is tempting considering the Celtics are averaging 126 points over their last four games. But they may have to win ugly here against a Magic team that plays at the third-slowest pace in the NBA. Give me the UNDER on the 212.5 point total

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 60-35-1 (62.5% success rate)

NBA Locks of the Night

Memphis Grizzlies (-1) at Detroit Pistons: The Grizzlies had won seven of eight before the Celtics trounced them Wednesday. They get back on track against a Pistons team that's played just one of its last eight games against a team above .500 -- and gone 4-4 in that span.

Denver Nuggets at New Orleans Pelicans (-4): Even if Zion Williamson doesn't hit four 3-pointers, his presence should energize the Pelicans at home against a Nuggets team missing four key rotation players.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 32-31-1 (50% success rate)

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

2020 NBA All-Star Game jerseys revealed: Here's what Celtics will wear

2020 NBA All-Star Game jerseys revealed: Here's what Celtics will wear

The 2020 NBA All-Star Game starters were announced Thursday night and Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker was among the selections, and now we also know what they'll be wearing in Chicago.

The All-Star jerseys have been revealed, and Jordan Brand did a pretty good job on the design.

Check them out in the tweet below:

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

NBA All-Star jerseys have featured many different designs over the years, and some of the recent ones have been disappointing, so it's nice to see the league return to a classic red/blue color scheme. 

The All-Star question for the Celtics is if Walker be joined by teammates Jayson Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown in Chicago.

Both of Boston's young stars finished in the top 10 of All-Star starter fan voting in their respective position groups, but their fates now rest in the hands of Eastern Conferences coaches, who will vote on the All-Star reserves. The reserves will be announced Thursday, Jan. 24 on TNT.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.