After the first-round elimination of the Spurs, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News explored the idea of San Antonio trading the seemingly very disgruntled Kawhi Leonard.
In the article, McDonald proposed four trades: One with the 76ers, one with the Lakers, one with the Clippers and one with the Celtics. As you may have seen by now, the suggested Celtics trade was preposterous. From McDonald:
Spurs get: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Greg Monroe and a first-round pick.
Boston gets: Kawhi Leonard.
Now, this trade doesn't consider that Monroe is on a one-year deal, but that's the least of that proposal's issues. Why? Because Tatum and Brown keep pushing themselves farther and farther into the untouchable category. Trading one of them would be difficult. Trading both of them -- for anyone -- would be a very easy trade to lose.
The latest example can be seen above in the numbers from Thursday's Game 5 victory over the 76ers. Twenty-five points from Tatum. Twenty-four from Brown. That's nearly 43 percent of the Celtics' offense in their 114-112 win, which puts them back into the Eastern Conference Finals.
And the Celts should trade these guys?
This season was obviously not supposed to be about Tatum and Brown, but it's become that. Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving went down for the season (one much later than the other, of course), yet -- in large part because of Tatum and Brown -- the Celtics are exactly where everyone thought they'd be at the start of the season: Facing LeBron and the Cavs, again, in the ECF.
So on a roster split between established stars and potential stars, the potential stars (along with the star coach) have proven to be enough to take the team deep into the playoffs. No other team in the league is in that situation.
God, this rules.
Of course, a team with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Kawhi Leonard and Al Horford would beat the team currently in the Eastern Conference Finals, but that isn't the question. It's whether having Kawhi (or pick your attainable star not named Anthony Davis) around Kyrie, Hayward and Horford is worth more than having the young guys with them.
At this point, I don't see how someone would prefer having a Kawhi. The Celtics are in too good a situation in the short term and long term to mess it up.
Now, the "untouchable" term is thrown around too liberally. People point out that even Wayne Gretzky was traded. (Note: That was not a good trade for the team that traded Wayne Gretzky. Ditto for that whole Babe Ruth deal.)
So it's not like Tatum or Brown should be completely off limits. It's just that the only guys for whom you'd trade them are unlikely to actually hit the trade market. Davis? No shot in hell, unless the Pelicans are really, really stupid. (Note: Even Wayne Gretzky was traded.)
Kawhi is probably the closest thing, and he's a star: two-time All-NBA, two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Maybe you'd give up Brown for him, but Leonard is 26. If I'm the Celtics, I'd hold onto Brown (21) and Tatum (just months removed from being only 19), keep Kyrie and Hayward, and wait out the Warriors.
So an offseason after seeing the last Brooklyn pick traded away for a star, Celtics fans, who have seen many a big trade in Danny Ainge's day, might not see another one for a while. They might have to to start accepting this incredibly delicious pill to swallow:
The Celtics are probably going to be a team with Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and others. Probably for a long time.