It’s trade deadline week and, truth be told, we wish we could hibernate until Thursday at 3:01 p.m.
The 88-hour crawl from the end of the Super Bowl until Thursday’s deadline will feel interminable (for reporters, at least) and it will be filled with endless (and sometimes reckless) speculation that will be taken as gospel.
It’s fun for fans, and the rumor mill will admittedly put a lot of eyeballs on sites like this (hey, it’s why you’re here now!)
But the deadline is far more likely to pass with a whimper for Boston than anything that will seriously alter the trajectory of the team's season.
All that said, maybe more than any year in recent memory, we believe the Celtics are poised to make a minor move. With a bench that Danny Ainge admits is overstocked with young guys and some expendable draft capital to spend, Boston’s front office is positioned to add a player that can both aid the quest for a top seed in the East (especially given Boston’s perpetual health woes) and potentially be part of the playoff rotation.
Just don’t set your sights too high. Everyone yearning for a Clint Capela should be prepared to settle for an Alec Burks. Let’s see what’s on your mind:
Clint Capela is feasible. Does Danny make the deal? — @Leno1Chuck
Could Celts target Capela? — @losingbets_
Could the Celtics do something like Daniel Theis or Enes Kanter, Romeo Langford, and Vincent Poirier and picks for Capela? Basically, could the Celtics obtain Capela without giving up one of their core guys? — @JaylenBrownWRLD
And these were only like three of the 57 questions about Capela that came in BEFORE the Celtics were reportedly “engaged” with the Rockets.
Look, I know a lot of people want the Celtics to upgrade the big-man position. Houston's 25-year-old rim runner is fun to watch when he’s throwing down loud dunks or swatting shots. And, yet, shouldn’t the very first question here be: Why exactly are the Rockets in such a rush to get rid of him? Maybe Houston realizes that a team with elite perimeter talent doesn’t necessarily need a big-ticket center.
We understand the notion that, if the Celtics don’t have to part with any of their Big 5 in order to make a deal, maybe it makes sense to consider a young big who could mesh well with Boston’s young core and lines up in terms of development timeline. While we firmly believe you hang up the phone if Houston asks for Marcus Smart, we’ll at least listen to a more reasonable ask.
But even that package of Theis/Kanter, Langford, Poirier, and picks seems too steep. Theis and Kanter have been excellent for Boston this season and at reasonable price tags and the Celtics are bullish on what Langford will become, particularly with sustained health.
Here’s our bigger issue — and, full disclosure, we’re a card-carrying member of the Rob Williams fan club — we think the 22-year-old Williams is one run of sustained health away from being Clint Capela with superior passing skills. No doubt, we’re not sure it’ll happen this year, and the time Williams has missed due to his hip ailment makes it unlikely he’ll shore up his inconsistencies this year.
And yet, in small doses, he’d solidify Boston’s center rotation and give the team a third look, particularly in less favorable matchups for Theis and Kanter.
Just go watch that Spurs game from November and remind yourself how Williams can positively impact this team when he’s playing near his potential.
We thought it was telling what Ainge said during his visit to NBC Sports Boston on Monday night.
“I think our No. 1 need is health,” said Ainge. "I think we're going to look to see if there's ways to strengthen the end of our bench. We like all of our guys. We do have probably too many really young guys. … I think that we’re going to look around, but we certainly don’t want to make a deal to make a deal.”
It's fair to wonder if he was referencing Houston when he added that there's, “eight or 10 teams that have reached out to ask us to do a deal. I think our draft picks do have some interest. Everybody’s always looking for draft picks, especially the teams that are just giving them all away.”
All of which is to say, it’s a no for us on Capela. (UPDATE: Capela has been dealt to the Atlanta Hawks in a four-team, 12-player deal.)
And, since we’re here, let’s go ahead and stomp on some of the more commonly referenced trade targets in the mailbag:
Andre Drummond: The two-time All-Star is a walking double-double, averaging 17.3 points and 15.7 rebounds per game this season. And yet no team seems in a hurry to give up key assets to pay him the $27 million he’s owed this season (or the $28.8 million player option he has next year). The Celtics would have to send out Gordon Hayward to acquire Drummond and — Hayward’s future uncertainty notwithstanding — that’s not making your team better.
Tristan Thompson: Thompson, averaging 11.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game this season, is a less expensive Drummond — only with 78 games of playoff experience and a championship ring. Making $18.5 million in the final year of his deal, any trade for Thompson would start with Smart as part of the package. Which is why it’s more likely that Boston will simply wait to see if Thompson lands on the buyout scrap heap and make a pitch to join the green.
Steven Adams: If you were hoping to spend $25.8 million on someone whose per-36 numbers are only moderately better than Theis AND give up Hayward in one fell swoop, have we got the trade for you. Adams surely brings a big body and rugged brand of defense and yet Oklahoma City’s defensive rating is a half-point better when he’s off the court. Adams is on the books for $27.5 million next season but, unless you’re convinced that Hayward will opt out and find a new home this summer, a deal makes little sense.
Myles Turner: The Pacers do have a small Turner issue — they’ve been better with him off the floor than on it — and Domantas Sabonis emerged as the All-Star big man there. Turner is signed long-term to reasonable money but the cost to acquire would start at Marcus Smart and require more assets from there. Ultimately, we don’t think the Pacers are in a rush to unload, particularly with a chance to assess how everything looks with Victor Oladipo back on the floor, and the cost would be prohibitive.
Davis Bertans: The Latvian Laser is shooting 42.2 percent beyond the 3-point arc this season on a hefty 8.4 attempts per game, and he’s making a very reasonable $7 million. Two problems with any pursuit: 1) Bertans will be an unrestricted free agent after the season and, even with his Bird rights, it’s going to be expensive to retain his services, and 2) The Wizards likely view Bertans as part of their future core and would only move him for an asset-heavy haul. A deal seems unlikely unless someone overwhelms the Wizards.
OK, did we stomp on all of our reader pitches? Let’s see what else you’ve got:
Do we need/want to trade Hayward? My thinking is that, if he opts out or plays out his contract and leaves us, we'd be too over the cap to fill his salary slot with someone else. Thoughts? — @johnny0723
For a team that watched both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford depart last summer without recouping value (at least beyond freeing the necessary cap space to sign Kemba Walker), it’s absolutely fair to ponder. Ultimately, the team likely knows more about Hayward’s future than we do. Publicly, Hayward has stressed that he’s focused on this season and the Celtics have operated like a team with no plans to move him.
We’d be stunned by a move that involves Hayward and, even if he’s not part of the team’s long-term future — either by their choice or his — there should be opportunities further down the road to get return value.
It's a weak free agent class coming up! I feel like Hayward is gonna opt out for another big pay day. Why wouldn't the Celtics trade Hayward and shore up the center position for the the playoffs and the foreseeable future? — @dahoodspokezman
Outside of maybe Memphis, there’s not a lot of teams that would likely interest Hayward and fill his desire to be competitive immediately. Most teams with cap space this summer are still in rebuild mode, while more intriguing teams are hoarding space for the summer of 2021.
Is there any way or any how we can get Marcus Morris back? — @EmmanueloAlexan
Love Mook. Miss Mook. Also: HAVE WE ALL COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN LAST SEASON?
Do the recent wins against the Lakers, Heat, and Sixers validate the idea that Celtics should stand pat at the deadline? Center by committee is cheap and effective right now. — @bigwillie814
I think the team would prefer a larger sample size of full health to feel even more confident in what they have. All the injuries have certainly added a layer of difficulty to this week. Maybe Boston would be less likely to make a move if it knew if having a healthy Robert Williams changed their dynamic. Or maybe a larger sample size would expose issues they could attempt to address.
Ultimately, I think the team is content to roll with the core they have if nothing materializes.
Thoughts on Poirier, Semi Ojeleye, and Carsen Edwards for Nemanja Bjelica? — @dsohoop
Love the player profile — a veteran on a sweetheart deal with size and an ability to knock down 3-point shots — and yet the Kings have him under contract at reasonable money again next season and I’m not sure what their motivation would be to move him unless you overwhelmed them with future assets.
There might simply be other bench options with a lower price tag. But this armchair GM would certainly seek someone like Bjelica or Dario Saric, or anyone who gives you some additional size and shooting off the bench.
Bogdan Bogdanovic from Sacramento for our own 2020 1st and a salary filler? — @Steve_Wilson_81
So many Kings pitches in this week’s bag! Wait, I’m pretty sure we had at least one Harry Giles question, too. I don't think this particular pitch is enough, even with restricted free agency looming for Bogdanovic. Kinda like Bertans, the cost both to acquire the player, and then having to pay to retain them, might simply be too prohibitive.
But, when examining any move the Celtics could make, it’s important to recognize how the team might put a premium on players they can have under control beyond this season.
Is there a legit shot at the Celtics landing Derrick Rose for bench scoring at the deadline? — @Manning_EBC
We’ve boldly suggested that we’d consider including the Memphis pick in a deal for Rose (to be clear, that’s not our first offer but we’d at least consider it if other assets weren’t enough). Rose doesn’t exactly fit Boston’s most pressing need for perimeter shooting — he’s at a mere 31.5 percent beyond the 3-point arc this season — and yet he obviously provides the sort of bench scoring punch that could help any contender, all while providing guard depth, which is important considering all the injuries this team has endured and the fact that the team's All-Star point guard has dealt with lingering knee soreness.
Tacko for Embiid :) — @cherui
To be fair, they had the same amount of field goals on Saturday night. One guy on 10 less attempts.
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