The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching. Teams have until 3 p.m. ET on Thursday to make any player transactions, before locking their rosters in for the remainder of the season. For some teams, like the Warriors and Rockets, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, less fortunate teams, like the Cavaliers, are scrambling to save their season by attempting to bring in fresh faces. Adversely, few teams, like the Clippers and Grizzlies, are planning ahead by moving pieces for future assets. They know their season is dead, and instead of trying to acquire All-Star talent, they are the ones dealing it.
Where are the Celtics in all of this uproar? Sitting at the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the C’s are virtually carefree. Well, for the most part. Thus far, they’ve had what it takes to assert dominance over some of the league’s best squads. The talent of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and more, have rocketed the Celtics to a commanding record. That being said, there are a few loose ends that could be addressed this week before the trade deadline.
The Celtics have done a much better job with crashing the board, compared to recent years. From two seasons ago to last season, Boston’s offensive rebounding ranking dropped from fourth to twenty-second. GM Danny Ainge attempted to address this problem by bringing in center Aaron Baynes from Detroit, to add center depth. After Gordon Hayward’s injury on opening night, Brad Stevens moved Al Horford to the four, and moved Baynes off the bench into the five slot.
Baynes’s job is to crash the boards, while the other four guys do their thing on offense. However, his abysmal rebounding numbers have only hurt the team. Baynes averages 1.4 offensive boards a game, and 3.8 on defense. Those shouldn’t be starting center numbers. With the lack of rebounding on offense, Boston has only advanced to the twenty-first spot in the league rankings this season.
Enter Greg Monroe. After playing twenty games with the Phoenix Suns, his contract was bought out. About a day later, he found himself signing a contract with the Celtics. In his seven season career, Monroe averages 2.9 offensive rebounds a game, and 5.8 defensively. Monroe isn’t washed up, he just needs a team where he can be under the rim on both ends of the court. He will fit nicely in the role Brad Stevens sets up for him.
Will signing Greg Monroe cause some competition with Baynes for minutes? Yes. Will Aaron Baynes be subject to trade sometime before the deadline? Probably not, but he could be a valuable asset in a multi-man trade.
Kyrie Irving is Boston’s true primary scorer. He wanted his own team to lead, and the Celtics have embraced that in every fashion. But after Kyrie, who is the Celtics’ second best shooting option? Jaylen Brown has been in a sophomore slump, and Jayson Tatum is still learning the ropes of the NBA. Gordon Hayward was supposed to be Kyrie’s running mate for scoring options, but without him there is a little confusion as to who’s in that role now. Brad Steven has done a masterful job of getting production out of every player.
However, some nights have resulted in losses because Kyrie wasn’t able to get a hot hand. That should not be the case. Someone needs to step up. There have been flashes of brilliance from different players on different nights. One night the bench could be hot, and other nights they could be quiet on offense. Terry Rozier is the latest to get hot in the past few games.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Boston to add some depth at guard to have more consistent scorers. Rumors have linked the Celtics to the Grizzlies’ Tyreke Evans, and the Clippers’ Lou Williams. Williams, a valuable sixth man, hasn’t really found a role for the Clippers, who are trying to clean house. Both teams want to make moves before the trade deadline.
According to the Boston Globe, the C’s have recently become less interested in Williams as a trade option. This leaves the opportunity to trade for Tyreke Evans up in the air. The Grizzlies have made it clear that Evans will be traded, after last week when the front office decided to take him out of games until the deadline. Evans has averaged a career high 19.5 points in Memphis, and 31.1 minutes per game. He can make a difference on Boston’s bench, and can be inserted into the starting lineup more often than not.
The only question for Boston is if the asking price is right for them. Boston has announced that they are willing to trade Marcus Smart for a first round pick before the trade deadline. Danny Ainge has been quiet lately, but as the deadline comes down to the final hour the Celtics might pull the trigger. There are reports that the Celtics might just mull over the buyout pool after the trade deadline anyway.
Three Team Trade
I’m not a NBA GM, nor will I probably ever be. If the Celtics want to move Smart and acquire someone like Tyreke Evans, they certainly have options. The Nuggets are reportedly interested in Marcus Smart, so a three team trade might be in place. Boston could exchange Smart to Denver for a first round pick and flip it to Memphis for Tyreke Evans. It seems unlikely, but it doesn’t seem too unrealistic. Regardless of what happens the Celtics will still be a deep playoff contender.
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