For the last month (and even last few years) the Celtics have been in trade talks to acquire star players with their surplus of assets to push this team over the edge, but no deals have come to fruition. So are these rumors flying around actually going to get done, or are they just rumors that the media has come up with to stir interest with this team?
After acquiring Al Horford in free agency, the Celtics now have two All-Star talents, surrounded by solid role players. But in today’s NBA, especially with the Warriors, you need more than two stars to become a championship contender. So what options do the Celtics have to get them to that championship level?
With the Chicago Bulls acquiring Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade in free agency, and Robin Lopez via trade, Jimmy Butler is likely off the board, and even if he was the asking price would be too high. Prior to the NBA Draft, the Bulls were reportedly seeking the #3 pick, which was used to draft Jaylen Brown, and two players from the Celtics. Those two players the Bulls wanted haven’t been named, but names like Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder were the likely candidates to get moved.
More recently, Boston has been linked to Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin in a three team deal including the Sacramento Kings. In the speculated move, Boston would send Jae Crowder, and likely other assets, to both the Clippers and Kings, while Griffin would come to Boston and Kings small forward Rudy Gay would head to LA. Of course, nothing has come of this rumor yet, but it seems like a reasonable possibility.
Rudy Gay reportedly wants out of Sacramento as they once again failed at building a team through the draft to get more talent around All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins, and the Kings seem willing to grant him his wish. Gay, while not on the same level as Griffin, would fill a huge need on the wing for the Clippers, while Jae Crowder would slide in to take Gay’s spot on the Kings.
As for Griffin, he would be the final piece of the puzzle to create a big three in Boston, where his mobility and passing ability from the post would work wonders in Boston’s system. And while he’s not quite the floor stretcher the Celtics would like, Al Horford is a good enough shooter to keep teams from collapsing on Blake. A frontline of Griffin and Horford would likely be the NBA’s best.
The other name floating around that is likely to turn heads in current Oklahoma City superstar point guard Russell Westbrook. The true alpha dog on the Thunder’s run to the Western Conference Finals is in the final year of his contract, something that I personally don’t like the sound of. Westbrook hasn’t said he’s leaving OKC after this season yet, but all signs point to him going to Los Angeles.
However, if he does find his way to Boston, the haul would be similar to what the Celtics gave up to get Kevin Garnett, a deal that sent six players and two picks to Minnesota for The Big Ticket. The Celtics have the pieces and picks to get this deal done, but what’s the cost for a one year ticket to MAYBE reach the NBA Finals, because the Eastern Conference still contains the most dominant force in basketball in LeBron James. Although potentially seeing KD vs Russell Westbrook is beyond intriguing, that one year run mortgages one of the brightest futures in the NBA.
The C’s would likely have to give up fan-favorite and one of the major factors in getting Horford to Boston in Isaiah Thomas, Crowder, Marcus Smart, the Brooklyn pick and likely another future first rounder. But Boston has enough future first rounders that giving up one of them won’t kill their future plans.
Westbrook is a top five player in the NBA and would be the face of the franchise for at least one year, but that still leaves you with only two stars and a bunch of role players (unless the Celtics can somehow acquire him and Griffin, which will never happen in a million years).
There’s no doubt the Celtics are heading in the right direction and will likely win 50 games next year, but to seriously take the next step to bring banner #18 to Boston, they need to get another star. And while it seems as though Danny Ainge and Wyc Grousbeck are willing to talk about bringing in another piece, they seem to be trigger shy when it comes to actually making a deal.
They have the pieces and would have leverage in pretty much any trade they pursued, but nothing has come to terms yet, which make me nervous that the front office is settling. There are plenty of options out there, and plenty of time to make some noise, but to get fans really excited for the upcoming season, a deal needs to be made soon.
Cover Photo via Yibado.com