The buzz around the Celtics right now is outstanding! No, there were no fireworks on draft night once again. However, the Celtics remain in a great place with more assets than any team in the NBA. The Celtics have two top three picks with high value from the last two years in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. They also have the Brooklyn Nets pick next year and potentially the Lakers pick with protections. There’s a very good possibility that the Celtics will have two of the top five picks in next years draft which is said to be better than this years. Lastly, the Celtics have a lot of players who other teams want who could be expendable including Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, and Jae Crowder. This team is in an amazing position right now and, within the next 10 days, it could look like an NBA Championship roster.
The Celtics potential to improve short term starts with landing Gordon Hayward in free agency beginning on July 1st. Hayward was an NBA All Star last year while averaging 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. He’s 27 years old and is entering his prime years. He has skills the Celtics covet including the ability to create his own shot off of the dribble. Hayward alone makes the Celtics a better team, but they still won’t be good enough to beat the Cavs. This is where Paul George comes in.
There are rumors from multiple sources that George would be willing to not only be traded to the Celtics, but would sign a three-year extension should the Celtics sign Hayward. Whoa! Think about that…
Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford all playing on the same team? Yep. That team not only contends with Cleveland, but they would probably beat them. Golden State? Maybe. But let’s pump the brakes before we get to that.
Here’s the big question: What would the Celtics have to give up to get George? Indiana has no leverage other than possibly other teams competing with draft picks. However, the Celtics have all three things that make sense with this deal.
- They can contend now and win with George.
- They have the draft picks and young players needed to get a deal like this done.
- They can trade away assets without it have a major impact on their short term needs.
How would this look to Indiana? Lakers protected pick next year, Memphis first round pick next year, and Jae Crowder for Paul George?
Granted, the Celtics would need to throw in something else to match up the salaries, but wouldn’t this deal make sense for both teams? The Pacers get two potential lottery picks next year and a solid player with a reasonable contract in Crowder. The Celtics get the player they covet to build a championship team and still have extra assets on the roster and in the draft. Win win!
This would leave the Celtics with the following core players on their roster for next year:
Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward, Paul George, Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Ante Zizic, and Guerson Yabusele.
Zizic would have projected to be a top ten pick in this year’s draft. He could be the Celtics starting center next year. The C’s are also very high on Yabusele.
Here are the problems though.
- There aren’t enough minutes to go around for eleven contributing players.
- The team still has the hole that has hindered them in the playoffs in the last two years: Interior defense and rebounding.
- There isn’t enough money under the cap to sign all of these players long term.
Here’s the answer.
The Celtics would need to trade Bradley and Smart. Both players have expiring contracts along with Isaiah after next season. The Celtics can’t sign all three and probably won’t even be able to sign two. So, here’s where the Celtics can go out and get the center who can simply guard the rim and rebound the basketball. Not a superstar. Just a guy who fills that specific need. They’re out there and Danny Ainge can find him. Surely, the Celtics aren’t going to trade Smart and Bradley just for a rebounder, right? So, what can Danny do next? Get more assets. More first round picks. He could actually have the chance to replace the picks he needs to give up in the George trade. What a position to be in!
How about this for a starting five for the next few years:
PG: Isaiah Thomas, SG: Gordon Hayward, SF: Paul George, PF: Al Horford, C: Ante Zizic
Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Taytum, Guerson Yabusele, (interior defense and rebounding specialist).
Oh yeah, and add the potential of getting the #1 pick again next year.
The Boston Celtics are back, folks. This may all seem like a dream, but by the 4th of July, it all could become a reality.
Banners are on the way…