With the trade deadline approaching, the Celtics You have good reason to feel confident. they drive NBA With a 35-14 record, the Pace is on the team’s highest winning percentage in a season in over a decade. They have the best net rating of the league at +5.9. They performed at a higher level against opponents with top 10 net worth ratings, achieving a league-best 10-3 record against those foes while beating them by 9.0 points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass. Filled with players who can help out from both ends of the field, Boston’s roster doesn’t necessarily need much work.
However, like any team, the Celtics will have a lot to consider before the February 9 deadline. Here are three big questions that will shape what Brad Stevens does.
1. Does the right big business exist?
The Celtics don’t need to make a big trade. They have a talented group that blends in well both on and off the field. earlier this season, Malcolm Brogdon He told several teammates that they should appreciate the tightness of their locker room. Stephens will not overlook team chemistry. Boston spent years searching for a winning combination.
However, if the right player becomes available at the right price, the Celtics can build a trade package that includes multiple first-round picks, but a team cannot include a 2023 first-round pick (they no longer have one) or a 2024 first-round pick (due to the Stepien rule, which requires teams to control at least one first-round pick every two years).
For a big deal like that, the Celtics ideally want someone talented enough to slip into their final lineup and young enough to complete the game. Jason Tatum And Jaylen Brown for the coming years. The difficulty there? It would take a heck of a gamer to fit that description. In most cases, the Celtics’ closing lineup will include Tatum and Brown Marcus Smart and two of the following: AlhorfordAnd Robert WilliamsAnd Derek White and Brogdon. Can the Celtics find someone to not only crack this lineup but also be a part of it moving forward?
Perhaps a major sporting power forward to take Horford’s place alongside Williams? Or a guard to act as an upgrade to Smart, White, and/or Brogdon? These types of players are probably not often available, and when they are available, competition is fierce to get them.
In this market, consider the OG Anunoby types. For a number of reasons, this specific goal seems very unlikely. the wild birds appreciate it. If they moved him, they would reportedly demand a hefty return. Even on the Celtics’ part, such a trade would likely not be an automatic yes. They’ll need to assess how much help Anunoby will help, as well as the added cost of acquiring it: not being able to use future first-round picks — and whatever else they need to trade.
However, whenever Anunobe or someone else of his caliber becomes available, the Celtics must weigh the merits of pursuing him. They don’t control all of their first-round picks after transferring their 2023 pick in the Brogdon deal, but Boston has enough future capital to get into those kinds of talks for some impact players.
This type of trade need not come within the next two weeks. It probably won’t. The Celtics are comfortable with their roster. They are one of the favorites, if not the favorites, to win the championship, which will be the franchise’s 18th and break a tie with Lakers For most of the history of the NBA. The Celtics will have more flexibility to move first-round picks once the offseason arrives and they become unattached to Stepien’s rule.
2. Will the Celtics get more front court assistance?
Likely to acquire another backup big man, the Celtics have been scanning the market for frontcourt options since early in the season, according to league sources who would not be identified until they can speak freely.
At the time, interim coach Joe Mazzola was still trying to figure out the central rotation of his team in the absence of Robert Williams. So precarious was the situation that during the first game of the season, Mazzola called out Noah Funley—who was later traded to a payroll—as the first big man to be benched. it takes Luke Cornet Another week or so for him to emerge as the Celtics’ regular pick behind Williams and Horford.
Kornet has been solid. The Celtics held opponents to just 105.8 points per 100 possessions during his time on the court, a scintillating defensive efficiency. They don’t necessarily need to target anyone else in that spot. If they’re healthy through qualifying, they’ll be few – possibly non-existent – minutes behind Horford and Williams. These guys will start together. Mazzulla can arrange their playing time during each game. Third place for the team last season, Daniel TheissHe earned eight DNP-CDs during the Boston playoff run despite Williams’ injury issues at the time. Theiss also had six more playoff games with less than 10 minutes to go. Cornette played like he could handle such a load.
However, the Celtics know Williams’ injury history and Horford’s 36-year-old age. If either of them needs to miss games at the wrong time, then the backup center in Boston will become the main figure in the team’s playoff run. Theis started five playoff games last season. The Celtics are more willing to play small formations now but they still know the importance of their big third man. for this reason Jacob BoeltelWho is the the athlete“Shams Sharanya” was recently reported as a target for Boston and will likely continue to be linked to the Celtics as the trade deadline approaches.
League sources outside of the Boston organization downplayed the possibility of a Poeltl acquisition, stating that if spurs Don’t treat him, the imminent free agent will make more sense somewhere he’s better in the long run. With both Horford and Williams signed through at least the 2024-25 season, Boston likely won’t have room to commit Poeltl as a starter on a major long-term contract.
Aside from adding someone like Poeltl, the Celtics front office may still want to give Mazzulla another type of backup big man to use at game time. The Cornette, for all its power around the edge, isn’t the most versatile defender. Around the league, players like Mason Plumleyand PJ Washington’s Jason Tate can be available. A couple of these guys aren’t necessarily natural centers but will help the Celtics play a different style than Kornet. By combining contracts Danilo Gallinari And Justin Jackson, the Celtics can absorb upwards of $9 million in returning salary in a trade without ever touching anyone in their current rotation. They also have Peyton Pritchardwhich has attracted interest as a potential trading chip if the right target emerges.
Realistically, however, the Celtics wouldn’t give a backup big man much playing time in the playoffs anyway. If their third big man becomes an important player during the postseason, then something must have gone wrong with Williams or Horford.
3. Can the Celtics keep track of wing depth?
If the Celtics have another need at the back end of their roster, wing depth might be next Sam HauserTough stretch over the past two months. The 6-foot-8 winger recently received two DNP-CDs — his first of the season — while shooting 28.3 percent from 3-point range in December and 29.0 percent so far in January. He shot 47.9 percent from depth in the 22 games prior to December.
However, if they are healthy during the post-season, the Celtics won’t necessarily need anyone in Hauser’s place. White, Brogdon W Grant Williams It will probably suck all the surrounding bench minutes after that – and possibly all the entire bench minutes. Even if a starter misses time, the Celtics can just shorten their turnover, giving more minutes to those three than adding someone else to the mix. If Boston wants to add assist on the wing, Jalen McDaniels It could make sense, but the Celtics won’t have many, if any, game minutes. As the deadline approaches, they’re in the envious position of knowing they don’t need much.
(Top photo by Jakob Poeltl: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)