How big of a swing should the Boston Celtics take ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline?
It's an important question for president of basketball operations Brad Stevens. The Celtics enter Wednesday night with the best record in basketball at 38-16, but there are compelling arguments that they should add a big man to provide more depth behind Robert Williams and Al Horford or pursue a wing to ease the burden on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Boston reportedly is testing the market on both fronts, with a new target emerging Wednesday in Jae'Sean Tate. The Celtics have shown interest in the Houston Rockets forward, The Athletic's Kelly Iko reported, adding that the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards have Tate on their radar as well.
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Tate went undrafted in 2018 and spent two years overseas before joining the Rockets in 2020. He's since blossomed into a quality NBA player, averaging 11.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists over two-and-a-half seasons in Houston.
Iko reports the 27-year-old is "highly valued" within the Rockets' organization thanks to his "attention to detail, playmaking ability, unselfish play style and most importantly, his defensive intensity and versatility."
Those are all traits the Celtics value, and Tate's favorable contract -- he's in the first year of a three-year, $20.6 million deal -- should appeal to Boston as well. Stevens has shown a penchant for acquiring players under contract for multiple seasons (see: Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon), so it's not surprising that the Celtics have interest.
If there's one red flag with Tate, however, it's his outside shot. He's a career 30.9 percent shooter from 3-point range and is shooting a career-worst 28.6 percent from distance this season with 5.2 attempts per game. That would be an issue for the Celtics, who lead the Eastern Conference in 3-pointers made (15.5) and attempted (41.8) and excel at creating open looks beyond the arc.
If the C's don't have to part with a rotation player to land Tate -- they could send the injured Danilo Gallinari and Justin Jackson to Houston to make salaries match -- then his defense and playmaking could benefit Boston's second unit. But if the Rockets seek a higher return for their third-year wing, Boston might be better off targeting a player with a better outside stroke.