All the players linked to the Boston Celtics in trade rumors
The Boston Celtics have been extremely active on the trade market since Brad Stevens took over as president of basketball operations. They seem more likely than not to make a trade of some kind this week considering they’re one of the title favorites this year. The question is, do they make a marginal rotation upgrade or do they swing for something bigger?
As mentioned in this year’s HoopsHype trade guide, the Celtics have the means to get all sorts of trades done. They can move up to three first-round picks in 2025, 2027, and 2029, which they could use to acquire a starting-caliber player. They also have several second-round picks, including three in this year’s upcoming draft that they could part with for some bench reinforcements. Depending on their appetite to increase their $59 million luxury tax bill, they could absorb a player using their $5.9 million trade exception.
Below is a list of players they’ve been linked to and a potential framework for them.
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The Celtics have been linked to Kevin Durant since last summer when it was reported that they offered a package featuring Jaylen Brown for him. Trading an All-Star mid-season while having the league’s best record could be considered an over-aggressive move that risks their chemistry. It’s unclear if the Celtics are still even interested in Durant with suspended head coach Ime Udoka, who previously coached him in Brooklyn, out of the dynamic.
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, the Celtics could still be interested in swapping Brown for Durant. Such a move will only make sense if the Celtics get an indication that Brown won’t extend or re-sign with them when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2024. Boston would need to add an additional $6.5 million along with Brown to match for Durant, so attaching Danilo Gallinari or any player earning more would get them there. After that, it becomes a matter of what other role players and how much draft compensation the Nets would require.
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Boston’s big-man rotation is excellent but the uncertain health of Robert Williams III may require they add an extra center for insurance. The Celtics have been reported to have an interest in Jakob Poeltl for quite some time now and have the means to make a strong offer for him. Getting a starting caliber rim protector like him would have them prepared for any additional Williams III unavailability come playoff time.
The Celtics would need to send out $7.4 million in outgoing salary to match Poeltl, so a combination of Gallinari and one minimum-salaried player would work. The biggest obstacle for the Celtics would be the compensation for the Spurs. Trading two first-round picks seems risky for a player who might only be a rental given his impending free-agency status. Could a combination of Payton Pritchard and several second-round picks help lower the price? If they’re hesitant about Grant Williams’ potential pricetag in restricted free agency this summer, perhaps a swap involving him could be enough.
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Kelly Olynyk may be a more cost-effective solution to center for the Celtics who should come at a much cheaper price than Poeltl. He earns $12.8 million this season and has a $12.2 million salary for next season that is only $3 million guaranteed. He may not provide the rim protection they’d like but his ability to stretch the floor can further accentuate an already elite offense. Also, his familiarity with the organization and city is a bonus.
The Celtics would need to send back $10.2 million to match for Olynyk, so a package featuring Gallinari, Pritchard, and one minimum salary would work. The inclusion of Pritchard could be the key considering Jazz president of basketball operations Danny Ainge drafted him three years ago. If the Jazz require a bit more compensation, the Celtics could part with some of their upcoming second-round picks.
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If the Celtics can’t get any of the other mentioned big men, they could pursue other ones like Nerlens Noel, JaVale McGee, and Andre Drummond. Of that ilk, the Celtics have reportedly made calls about Noel, who is currently out of the Pistons rotation. He would be a solid option off the bench who could provide adequate rim protection in limited minutes. If he isn’t traded, it’s possible he becomes a buyout candidate in hopes of landing with a team who needs him.
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