Celtics

NBA rumors: How Grizzlies-Heat trade impacts Celtics' 2020 Memphis draft pick

NBA rumors: How Grizzlies-Heat trade impacts Celtics' 2020 Memphis draft pick

The Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies reportedly have agreed to a six-player deal just a few hours before Thursday's NBA trade deadline, and even though this transaction doesn't include the Boston Celtics, it will still impact them.

First, let's take a look at the players involved in the trade, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Celtics, as you've likely heard, own the Grizzlies' 2020 first-round draft pick if it lands outside the top six. If the pick is in the top six, Boston will receive Memphis' unprotected 2021 first-rounder. 

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The Grizzlies enter Thursday's games in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings with a 3-game lead over the ninth-place Portland Trail Blazers. If the Grizzlies make the playoffs, the Celtics are guaranteed to get their 2020 first-round selection. If Memphis falls just short of the playoffs, it would need a draft lottery miracle to move up into the top three and force Boston to wait another year. 

So, how does this trade impact the C's? 

In the short term, this trade could make the Grizzlies worse, which could help the Celtics' chances of landing a pick a little higher in the lottery.

Justise Winslow is the best player the Grizzlies are getting in this trade with Miami, but his injury history is very much a concern. He's missed 136 games since 2015-16, and he's played in only 11 games this season. Winslow, when healthy, is a good 3-and-D option who can defend multiple positions. His last appearance for the Heat was Jan. 8, however, and if he doesn't play much for the Grizzlies, it hurts their depth.

Dion Waiters has the ability to score points in bunches off the bench, but he's a poor defensive player and hasn't been able to stay on the floor consistently over the last few seasons. Waiters hasn't played more than 46 games in a single season since the 2015-16 campaign. 

James Johnson shouldn't move the needle much for Memphis. The 32-year-old forward is averaging just 5.7 points per game this season.

Losing Crowder, a good 3-and-D player who defends quite well, is a genuine loss for the Grizzlies. He also brought valuable toughness and playoff experience to a young Grizzlies team. The departure of veteran guard Solomon Hill isn't a huge blow to the Grizzlies, although he is shooting an impressive 38.1 percent from 3-point range.

The best-case scenario for the Celtics is the Grizzlies falling out of a playoff spot and their pick landing in the lottery around No. 13 or No. 14 overall. It's hard to imagine the Grizzlies falling below the No. 10 spot in the Western Conference. The difference between the Grizzlies and the 11th-place New Orleans Pelicans is six games entering Thursday, and that's a lot of ground to make up.

Overall, this was a pretty even trade for the Heat and Grizzlies, although it does have the potential to make Memphis slightly worse this season given the uncertainty between Winslow and Waiters. So, the Celtics could benefit a little bit by this trade, and it's important to remember that moving up or down even by just one spot in the lottery can make a huge difference. The C's had the No. 14 pick in last year's draft and missed Kentucky sharpshooter Tyler Herro by one spot when Miami took him 13th overall.

Forsberg: C's have limited need for pre-deadline move

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the NBA trade deadline. This Thursday at 2:30 p.m., stream the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline Show on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBoston.com. Then at 7 p.m., tune into our Celtics Trade Deadline Special.

Hindsight 2020: Would more Jayson Tatum have pushed Celtics to NBA Finals in 2018?

Hindsight 2020: Would more Jayson Tatum have pushed Celtics to NBA Finals in 2018?

Jayson Tatum was in his basketball bag, giving LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers all they could handle. 

He was scoring in an efficient manner (24 points on 9-for-17 shooting), rebounding the ball (seven rebounds) and making big shots.

And he was doing this on one of the biggest stages of them all: Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals.

A 3-pointer by Tatum put the Celtics ahead 72-71 with six minutes to play, a shot that capped off a Tatum surge in which he had scored seven of Boston’s last nine points. 

And then … nothing. 

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He took only one shot after that and missed it, going scoreless for the rest of the game.

The Celtics that year were a team that leaned on whoever had the hot hand. 

But on this particular night, they needed help figuring out who that was in the closing minutes — and in hindsight, head coach Brad Stevens should have stepped in and done more to implore his team to get the ball to Tatum in a better position to score. 

However Stevens stuck to what had worked so well for so long with this group: letting this young band of ballers figure out on their own who to lean on when it mattered most, as contributions seemed to come from a new player on a nightly basis.

But on this stage with all that was at stake, they absolutely needed Stevens to implore them to go to Tatum … a lot. 

And now, two years later, the domino effect of that game’s outcome is still felt. 

Brad Stevens has been at the helm for seven years here in Boston and ranks among the franchise’s winningest coaches ever. 

But in that Game 7 in 2018, the Celtics were less than six minutes away from getting to the NBA Finals, which is as close as this franchise has come to winning a title during Stevens' reign. 

When you look at the overall body of work since Stevens arrived in Boston in 2013, there are very few instances in which a decision or non-decision on his part stands out in a bad way. 

But this was one of those times. 

Yes, the Celtics were playing without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who were both sidelined with injuries. 

And yes, there are undeniable benefits in having so many young players step their game up despite being without a pair of All-Stars in Irving and Hayward. 

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But as we’ve seen here in Boston and throughout the NBA, getting to the NBA Finals is not guaranteed for any team regardless of how much promise they show going forward.

And to be as close as they were at that time, there’s no way to completely move on from that sting of missing out — other than to take that next step and actually reach the Finals. 

You can go through all the missed shots and free throws and blown assignments defensively and find factors that led to Boston coming up short in that game.

But none looms larger than the Celtics' inability to put Tatum in a better position to score the ball in the final minutes. 

While the pain from that loss has in many ways helped Boston’s young core grow, the gains for the Celtics and the Tatum-Brown tandem would have been even greater had that group as they were constructed advanced to the Finals. 

When it comes to players making plays when it counts, of course it’s ultimately on them to deliver. 

But efforts must be made to best position players to come through in the clutch, the one thing in hindsight the Celtics could have done a better job in what was — and still is — the toughest loss for this franchise in the Stevens era.

2020 NBA Mock Draft 4.0: Teams still on schedule for June

2020 NBA Mock Draft 4.0: Teams still on schedule for June

The NBA season may be at a standstill, but that won’t slow NBA teams down from preparing for the upcoming draft that’s currently slated for June 25. 

While this draft is short on star power like this year’s NBA rookie class, which includes Zion Williamson of New Orleans, Ja Morant in Memphis and New York’s R.J. Barrett, all of whom turned in strong first seasons in the NBA, there’s still plenty of talent to pick over in the coming weeks. 

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And the Celtics will get their shot — make that shots, plural — with three first-round picks this year. 

Here’s a look at the Celtics’ possible draft plans as well as those of the rest of the NBA in the latest NBC Sports Boston NBA Mock Draft. 

Click here for the gallery.