Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before:
“The Celtics are in deep trade talks with *insert team* about *insert Superstar’s name.*”
It’s time they finally pulled the trigger.
The Boston Celtics have been one of the best teams in the league this season and are currently sitting in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. Isaiah Thomas has emerged as a legitimate MVP contender and a franchise player for the Celtics but it is clear that they still need another big name to compete for a championship. And that time may be coming.
For the past couple of years there has been a lot of pressure on the Celtics front office to try and use their tremendous amount of assets to land a star player and bring a winning culture back to Boston. President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has had a lot of opportunities to shake things up and get a top player with all of the young talent and draft picks accumulated over the past couple of years, but so far he has been unable to make a massive move. Until a simple Isaiah Thomas tweet set the NBA by storm last night and had everyone in Boston on edge.
A lot of rumors went flying around after the Boston Celtics official Instagram followed Carmelo Anthony and there were some reports of a potential deal. The Knicks have been an absolute dumpster fire all season long after having championship aspirations this past summer. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah took their talents from Chicago to the Big Apple and even referred to the Knicks as another “Super Team.” But they have been nothing but a disaster. With reports that Phil Jackson is looking to rebuild and move around some older players, it makes sense that Carmelo’s name would be in the Celtics wheelhouse. Having said that, Carmelo is not the only established all-star that has been named as a possibly Celtics acquisition before the trade deadline.
The Celtics have been rumored to have been in talks with the Los Angeles Clippers regarding Blake Griffin before, but according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe it is “very unlikely” to get done. Griffin is going to be a free agent after the season is over and the Celtics would have to give up a tremendous amount to get him. As much as Danny Ainge and the Celtics are in “win now” mode, it may be too much for a player with the potential of walking away this summer. If the Celtics are able to talk about a possible extension before they made the deal (like before Minnesota traded Kevin Love to the Cavaliers) it may be a possibility but unless that happens I don’t see any major deal being taken seriously.
Jimmy Butler is a guy that Celtics fans have wanted to see wearing green for a long time. The all-star guard/forward has a tremendous upside and it is no secret that the Celtics have been trying to find a way to trade for him. The Chicago Bulls are in a place where they have tremendous leverage over Boston in that they can demand a very high price for him. Butler signed a maximum level contract in 2015 before the salary cap skyrocketed and he is averaging career highs in points (24.5), assists (5.0), and rebounds (6.3) per game. Reports are that Chicago wants a current starter, a top prospect and the Brooklyn Nets first round pick (projected top 5) they acquired in the 2012 trade for Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Paul Pierce. This seems like a lot, but if the Celtics could land a guy like Butler it would surely catapult them to contention for the NBA Finals.
The true dark horse in all of the Celtics trade talk is Indiana Pacers forward Paul George. George was a guy that was rumored to be on the trading block last offseason and after showing some doubts about resigning with Indiana when he becomes a free agent this summer, he may be a guy that the Celtics would be willing to sell out for. George has not been the same player since breaking his leg playing in a Team USA scrimmage in 2014 but he is still one of the league’s top players. The Pacers believe that they can build a contender in the next couple of years but if General Manager Larry Bird believes George is leaning towards not resigning, I wouldn’t be surprised if he could get some young talent to help build around one of the better young rosters in the NBA. It’s a stretch, but with Bird and Ainge having been teammates in Boston I could see a move much like when Kevin McHale sent Kevin Garnett to Boston for young talent in 2007.
In my own personal opinion I feel the Celtics should try and make a run at Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz. Hayward is a great scorer who can play great defense and played for Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler University, making the 2010 National Championship. There have been no reports of any trade talks between the two teams, but if the other teams were to set the bar out of the Celtics’ price range I could see a deal being done close to the deadline.
One way or another, the Celtics need to decide if they want to contend for a championship as soon as this season or wait to develop their young players for the future. Brad Stevens is coaching for his job this season and they need to at least win one playoff series after two consecutive first round exits. Signing Al Horford was a good start this past offseason and if the Celtics can land one of the aforementioned players they could hang with anyone in the league and with the trade deadline approaching fast (Thursday at 3 PM) it is getting a little close for comfort. The assets are there, it’s just a matter if Danny Ainge wants to pull the trigger and make a deal or not.