With just 15 days until the NBA’s trade deadline, brace yourselves for two weeks of nonstop rumors and unnamed sources. If you’re a Celtics fan, you’re probably already well accustomed to the trade hysteria, as it’s been a natural part of pretty much every season (and offseason) since acquiring all of those assets from Brooklyn. This season is no different. Since before the season even started, you’ve probably been hearing a lot of the same, common names as potential trade targets for the Celtics. From big men like Andre Drummond, Steven Adams, Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love or Myles Turner, to bench scorers like Davis Bertans, Nemanja Bjelica, Robert Covington or Danilo Gallinari, the Celtics have been identified as potential trade partners and good fits for a whole host of guys around the league. If we know anything about the Celtics front office, however, it’s that the moves they make are usually the ones that nobody sees coming ahead of time.
With that being said, I think it’s beneficial to look past the guys like Davis Bertans, who feels like a “too good to be true” target and dig deeper to see who else might be out there for the Celtics to obtain before the deadline. Before getting into those deeper options, the first thing that has to be addressed in any Celtics trade talks is whether or not one would be willing to include Gordon Hayward in a trade package. If you’re willing to do so, it’s likely because you’re in favor of the Celtics trading for one of those big-name centers listed above, and Hayward’s salary is the best way to match the salary of one of those guys in a deal. I, however, think that the Celtics — especially if Robert Williams is back this season — can survive with the big man rotation that they have. Instead, I tend to agree with Guy Boston Sports founder Ev Singleton, who wrote last week that he believes the team’s biggest need is another scorer off of the bench. If the Celtics were to pursue an established bench scorer at a lower salary number, Hayward would no longer need to be involved in a trade, and instead the Celtics could build a package around their multiple first-round picks, young guys like Romeo Langford and Carsen Edwards, and lower-money salary fillers like Vincent Poirier and Semi Ojeleye. While it would hurt to give up high-upside pieces like the Memphis pick and Romeo Langford, it would be a necessary move if the Celtics feel like they are just one piece away from having a shot at contention this year.
So, who are some deeper options for the Celtics to try to grab before the deadline?
1. Doug McDermott, F, Indiana Pacers
Contract:3 Yrs/$22M ($7.3M Avg), Expires 2021
Season Averages: 20.8 MPG, 10 Points, 3 Rebounds, and 1 Assist on 47% FG’s and 44% 3P’s.
Fit: As a 6’7 forward that can shoot the lights out from downtown, Doug McDermott would fit perfectly into the bench scoring role that Boston needs filled. He provides very little on the defensive end, so it’d be interesting to see him share the court with a guy like Kanter, but he would immediately become Boston’s best perimeter scoring threat off of the bench. The Basketball Index grades himin the 99th percentile among all players in perimeter shooting and the 100th percentile in off-ball movement. For a team that can struggle to generate good looks and clean offense when their core guys are off the floor, he’d be a big help.
So why would the Pacers give him up?After all, according to Cleaningtheglass.com, the Pacers are 4.4 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents when McDermott is on the floor.Well, right now, McDermott is the 8th or 9th man in the rotation for an Indiana team that should soon be getting Victor Oladipo back. While that may not affect his role as much as other guys on the team, it certainly makes it easier for Indiana to give him up if they were to be enticed by a higher-upside piece like one of Boston’s first round picks or young guys. Is the Memphis pick or Romeo Langford too much to pay for a guy like McDermott? Probably. But perhaps Boston could offer them something like Milwaukee’s first round pick, Vincent Poirier and Semi Ojeleye. Where the Pacers would lose a bit of shooting replacing McDermott with Ojeleye, they would certainly gain some defense.
2. Ish Smith, PG, Washington Wizards
Contract: 2 Yrs/$12M, Expires 2021
Season Averages: 26.2 MPG, 11 Points, 3 Rebounds, 5 Assists on 46% FG’s and 36% 3P’s
Fit: What I like about Ish Smith isn’t necessarily his ability to be a bench scorer as much as his ability to be a competent, intelligent and efficient backup ball-handler. We’ve seen Brad Wanamaker have some ups and downs this season, and, in the most recent game against the Lakers when Stevens shortened his rotation to 8 guys, it looked like those downs had cost Wanamaker some trust as he was left out. With Marcus Smart in the second unit and Hayward able to do some ball handling when Kemba is off the floor as well, a backup ball-handler may not be the biggest priority, however it’d be nice to know that a reliable option exists when needed.
Ish Smith is exactly that — reliable. His 3.42 AST/TO ratio ranks 9th in the NBA, and his shooting percentages are both above league average, and several points above those of Wanamaker both from the floor in general and from long range. While he doesn’t necessarily pile the points on most nights, he’s shown that he has the potential to break out here and there, including when he dropped 27 points on 12-18 shooting against Boston at the start of the month just one night after dropping 32 against Denver.
With Washington planning for the long term and already having their Wall and Beal backcourt in place, there’s no real need for them to hang onto a 31 year old Ish Smith if they’re able to get something for him. What it would take for Boston to get their hands on him, I’m not sure, but it certainly wouldn’t take anything of great value.
3. Alec Burks, SG, Golden State Warriors:
Contract: 1 Yr/$2.3M, Expires 2020
Season Averages: 29.5 MPG, 16 Points, 5 Rebounds, 3 Assists on 41% FG’s and 36% 3P’s
Fit: AlecBurks is a bigger wing that can put the ball in the basket in a variety of ways while not being as big of a liability on the defensive end as a guy like McDermott who I mentioned earlier. In fact, Burks has actually averaged a steal per game so far this season. He’s experienced what has probably been his best season of his career while in a bigger role in Golden State, so I do worry about how successful he would be in a minimized role, however he remains an interesting option.
At 28, he doesn’t necessarily fit Golden State’s timeline moving forward as they’ve got a couple exciting young guys that they are looking to groom to play alongside Curry, Thompson and Draymond when they are all healthy, and I would imagine they’re also looking to keep their books free’d up in order to take a swing on the next big free agent. It would make sense for the Warriors to deal him this season while they can get something in return for him, and Burks has made that job easier recently as he’s topped 25 points three times already this month including a 33-point outing against Portland in their last game. There’s reports out there that teams are interested in him, so he may not be on the market much longer.
4. Glenn Robinson III, SF, Golden State Warriors:
Contract: 1 Yr/$1.8M, Expires 2020
Season Averages: 31.8 MPG, 12 Points, 5 Rebounds, 2 Assists on 46% FG’s and 39% 3P’s
Fit: Another 3-and-D player from Golden State on an expiring contract that they might want to cash in on before it’s too late if he’s not part of their future plans. Robinson is a couple years younger than Burks — 25 — and has started every game that he’s played in this season, so perhaps the Warriors would be more interested in bringing him back at the end of the season than Burks, but I sort of doubt it. With his shooting efficiency on 10.5 FGA/G and 3.4 3PA/G, Robinson would be a great addition to Boston’s bench and — as is the case with Burks — probably wouldn’t cost all that much.
5. Markieff Morris, PF, Detroit Pistons:
Contract: 1 YR/$6.6M, Expires 2020
Season Averages: 21.9 MPG, 11 Points, 4 Rebounds, 2 Assists on 46% FG’s and 41% 3P’s
Fit: Doesn’t it just feel like this team needs a Morris again? Perhaps by getting Marcus’ brother, we could get the intensity, aggression and passion that Marcus brought to the court without the “Iso-Mook” ball hogging habits that often plagued the team.
In all seriousness, Markieff Morris would provide a couple of key things to the Celtics roster. First, he would serve as both an addition to the big man rotation and a bench scorer, killing two birds with one stone. Despite being 6’8, nearly 250lbs and tough as nails, Markieff isn’t quite the rim protecting, interior defender that Celtics fans want in a big man. However, he would be able to stretch the floor better than any of the big men that they have on the roster now, as Theis’ occasional, wide open three is the best that they’ve got right now in that regard. It looks like Markieff took some shooting lessons from his brother over the summer as he’s currently posting career highs in 3P% (41%), eFG% (55.9%) and TS% (58.4%) all while his Three-Point Attempt Rate is higher than it has ever been.
If the Pistons are smart, they’ll be looking to get something from him from a playoff team before the deadline before they’re left having to pay him or let him walk for nothing in the summer.
When it’s all said and done, the Celtics may end up simply sticking it out with the team that they currently have. After all, Brad Stevens said he “likes this team a lot” as recently as today, and we’ve seen what the team can look like when everything clicks like it did against the Lakers Monday night. On the other hand though, we saw what happened last year when we hoped for everything to click at the right time but they never did. While I’ve never been in favor of risking future success or overpaying to “win now”, I do hope that the Celtics front office won’t hold back on making at least a minor move if they think it could be the difference between true contention and another second round exit.
Photo: Zach Beeker/NBAE Via Getty Images