Celtics

Celtics

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.