Examining the Celtics' trade difficulties ahead of the deadline

Examining the Celtics' trade difficulties ahead of the deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics may look to bolster their bench prior to the Feb. 8 NBA trade deadline. With Boston's president of basketball operations Brad Stevens hinting that the team would like to add a big wing, and Grant Williams' $6.2 million traded player exception still available, the Celtics reportedly are 'strongly expected' to find a trade partner.

With most of the minutes already claimed in Boston's nightly rotation, the Celtics aren't looking to bring in a game-changing player -- their main rotation is set and proven to work. Boston's bench -- which was seen as a weak point before the season -- has slowly proven its ability to play meaningful minutes, playing team-first basketball with the goal of getting wins over individual accomplishments. With that in mind, it can still never hurt to add more depth.

On a new episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, Chris Forsberg and Cerrone Battle discussed some of Boston's options leading up to the deadline, dissecting which part of the roster could use some work.

"I think the roster is good -- it's pretty obvious they're good," Battle said. "I think their weakness coming into the early parts of the season, people looked at their bench. Lately, I think the bench has become a strength of theirs. Pritchard, Hauser, those guys -- their plus/minus and stuff like that are going up, they are playing good basketball. When you incorporate the bench with the starters like he's [Mazzulla] been doing, they've looked excellent."

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Sam Hauser, Al Horford, and Payton Pritchard have led the way for the Celtic bench this season. Averaging 8.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, and one assist per game, Hauser has been a reliable 3-point shooter, converting on 41.6 percent of shots from deep. Thirty-seven-year-old Horford has thrived in his new bench role, averaging 7.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.1 blocks in his 26.7 minutes per game. Posting one of the league's best assists-to-turnover ratios and truly starting to come into his own as a defender, Pritchard has thrived as a pass-first guard, averaging 7.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game.

Each player knows and is comfortable with their role, not looking to chase individual glory, which is a trait that can be hard to find.

"They've taken games where it's been a six- or seven-point lead, and when the bench comes in, they've pushed it to double digits and held," Battle added of Boston's bench. "I think that's what you want to see in a championship-caliber team."

Assuming the Celtics won't want to part ways with their bench core of Hauser, Horford, and Pritchard, Boston could look to package a combination of the now fully-guaranteed Luke Kornet, Dalano Banton, Lamar Stevens, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Oshae Brissett.

"The problem is that one of the new CBA rules are that teams that are on that second apron like the Celtics, they can't sign anyone who's bought out whose contract is more than the mid-level exception," Forsberg added, limiting Boston's roster possibilities. "I keep catching myself because there are guys out there that are sort of right on that line. Kelly Olynyk is one of those guys -- he's just below. So, if he were to get bought out, which I don't think is going to happen, it's a potential."

When looking at what type of player would fit best on the current Celtic roster, Forsberg added that Boston could use "someone who can do something on both ends, who can step back and direct an offense, be a good ball mover.

"The hard part is looking at the Celtics' assets. Whether it's hoping someone comes through the waiver wire like that, or if it's a guy who makes less than $6.2 million, which is the number we'll get hung up on for this trade exception, it's hard to find."

Also in the episode:

  • Reaction to the Two-Minute report from Celtics-Pacers

  • What can the Celtics do to improve the roster?

  • Could Marcus Smart get traded to a competitor?

  • How many All-Stars do the Celtics get and who gets chosen?