The Boston Celtics are already active this season on the trade front, after an uninspired start to the season. The team is already said to be shopping guard Courtney Lee in search of a big man. The holes in the interior of the Celtics defense when Kevin Garnett leaves the game are obvious and they once again are one of the worst teams in the league on the glass.
The team re-signed both Jeff Green and Brandon Bass this summer, which means neither of the forwards can be dealt until January 15th, and seemingly one (or both) of them would need to be included to make the salaries match for a big that could really improve the team. Both Bass and Green are still relatively young, although both have underperformed thus far and with long term deals may be hard to move, especially if Danny Ainge hopes to get an upgrade in the process.
The Celtics do have the assets to facilitate a big deal if Ainge is willing. Rookie Jared Sullinger looks to be a solid pro already, with a lot of room left to grow. Avery Bradley is set to return from injury in the next couple of weeks and is one of the leagues premier wing defenders. Fab Melo, Kris Joseph and the Celtics draft picks would also have some value to rebuilding teams, especially if the Celtics record has not improved or worsened by the time the deadline rolls around.
Many of the potential targets are seemingly obvious, the salaries and asking price varies but the theme remains the same, the Celtics need another big, rebounding forward. The Cavaliers may want to sell high on Anderson Verejao while his value is at its peak and he remains healthy, although the team is reportedly hesitant to pull the trigger. Marcin Gortat just isn’t working in Pheonix this season and would seemingly be available for the right price. Josh Smith is a well-known target of Ainge, with the Hawks flying high a deal looks unlikely but if they hit a cold spell they could look to unload the free agent before the end of the season to get some value in return. Utah has an obvious glut of big men, in order to spare more minutes for Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, one of Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap is going to have to be moved.
Lastly, seemingly least likely would be making a move for Kevin Love, who recently discussed his displeasure with Timberwolves management. It would take some creative dealing from Ainge, likely having to turn Bass, Green or both into younger players, shorter contracts and picks to entice the Wolves (as well as adding Sullinger, Bradley etc), but we’ve seen Ainge pull off superstar deals out of nowhere in the past.
Doc Rivers and Ainge both love the personnel they have at this point and would prefer to improve from within. They will likely get that chance for a few weeks into the new year with Bradleys return and more time to build chemistry, but it is clear that the current crop of big men the Celtics have are simply unable to improve the areas which the team is struggling and a deal seems the most likely resolution.
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