If the Boston Celtics are to make any noise in 2021, some major changes need to be made.
The C's have now lost 14 of their last 21 games following Wednesday night's embarrassing defeat vs. the Atlanta Hawks. They now sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings with the NBA trade deadline one month away.
All eyes are on Danny Ainge with the C's owning a whopping $28.5 million traded player exception. Several names have been thrown around as potential targets, including Harrison Barnes and JJ Redick. However, the Celtics GM has mentioned the possibility of waiting until the summer to use the TPE.
Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer shared what he believes Ainge's focus should be at the trade deadline, as well as a couple of names that could step in to help right away.
"The burden is so much on [Jayson] Tatum and [Jaylen] Brown right now in ways you wouldn't expect or want for players under 25 years old, and so the moves that Danny Ainge makes needs to relate to addressing that," O'Connor said on Early Edition. "With Kemba Walker, he was supposed to be that ball-handler who helps alleviate that pressure off of those guys. Finding another ball-handling presence is important. They can't rely on Tatum and Brown to also be the guys defending the best player every single night throughout the entire season. There needs to be somebody to handle that load. A P.J. Tucker type of guy, a Thaddeus Young type of guy.
"You can't put it on them to be the guys initiating the offense, to be the guys scoring at the end of the clock, to be the guys defending the best player, to be the leaders in the locker room when they're 24 and 22 years old. It's ridiculous to ask that much of them at that age no matter how great the player is, no matter how special they are. There needs to be a veteran voice in there. That's what it's about to me is addressing Tatum and Brown and helping lift them by giving them support.
Tatum and Brown have been as consistent as they come this season, but the same cannot be said for their supporting cast. While Kemba Walker has had his moments, he hasn't been the All-Star point guard the C's thought they were getting when they signed him to a max deal two summers ago. As O'Connor points out, the lack of a consistent third option is too much for the Celtics' stars to overcome.
A veteran presence like P.J. Tucker or Thaddeus Young still might not be enough to turn things around for Boston, but they surely would provide much-needed leadership on a team that desperately could use a spark.
The Celtics will hope to turn things around when they host the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston.