With the NBA Trade Deadline on the horizon, it’s a good time to discuss potential trade options for the Boston Celtics. Heading into Sunday’s game vs. Orlando, the Celtics sit at 27-21 which is good for the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference. With a win, they could move up to third. That’s correct. The Celtics are one of the best teams in the East of right now. In any other professional sport, they would probably be considered a team that has a realistic shot to win a championship. However, as we all know, it’s different in the NBA. There’s really about four or five teams that have a realistic shot and the Celtics aren’t one of them with their current roster. It doesn’t mean it would be impossible, but it would be highly unlikely. Having said that, the Celtics could make a move or two to put themselves in a position to contend. They aren’t that far away.
The NBA Trade Deadline is on February 18th. That gives Danny Ainge about two more weeks to watch this team and see if he wants to make a move for this year and the future. The big names out there at the beginning of the year seem to be off the table including DeMarcus Cousins. However, there are some players who may be available including Jeff Teague and Al Horford from the Atlanta Hawks. Perhaps, there would be a long shot at getting Kevin Durant, but that would be unlikely.
So, this is the first problem for the Celtics. There may not be the #1 type player available as there has been in other years. This is unfortunate because the Celtics probably have more assets than any team in the league including players and draft picks that they could move. The Celtics have a boat load of picks in the next few years. The Brooklyn Nets first round picks for the next three years including a swap next year are gold right now. The Nets currently have the third worst record in the NBA. Ben Simmons is a realistic possibility this summer. The Celtics can contend in the next three years and get a high-end lottery pick each year. This is a very unique position to be in.
If the Celtics are going to make a big move, it’s going to take more than draft picks. The Celtics have players that they can deal as well. Here are the most likely Celtics candidates to be dealt.
1. Kelly Olynyk. Look. He has a skill set that is very different for a seven footer. Not too many players his size can make 44% of three-point shots and create shots off the dribble like Olynyk can. At 24, he still has a high ceiling to continue to improve. However, he is a defensive liability on a team that prides itself of defensive intensity. He just doesn’t fit in. He would be a good piece for a team looking for some scoring punch from a big man.
2. Jarred Sullinger. Sullinger continues to be a player that has proven he can make a big impact rebounding the ball and scoring as a power forward. He has a solid inside game and pretty good range for a player his size. He’s averaging 8.8 rebounds in just 23 minutes per game. The problem is he is never in shape and it limits his ability to be effective for 30+ minutes. If Olynyk isn’t moved, Sullinger may be the guy considering that they have multiple players at this position including Amir Johnson.
3. Evan Turner. Nice player. Good guy to have one your team. However, when you already have Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, and Avery Bradley, there just isn’t enough minutes to go around. Turner could be the odd man out in this group.
4. Marcus Smart. You have to give up something to get something. The Celtics certainly believe they have something in Smart. He’s a hard-nosed player who has the ceiling of being the elite defensive guard in the league. This makes it all the more likely that he could be dealt in a bigger deal. The Celtics would not move Smart unless it was for a significant player who could improve their team for years to come.
The Super Bowl is a week away. After that, Boston sports fans will be looking for something to get excited about. Danny Ainge may provide that on or before February 18th. Or, we’ll just need to get excited about pitchers and catchers in Fort Myers.