With the current roster the Celtics have, they’re not looking for any major upgrades outside of backend depth.
If the Celtics stood pat at the deadline they’d still be one of the best and most deep rosters in the league. With that being said, there are a few players that could strengthen up a weakness the Celtics have.
The most important thing in a trade piece right now is to give Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the bigs some minutes, and even games off.
Since joining the league, Tatum is top 10 in minutes played. He has played 70 or more games in three of his five seasons. Tatum has never played fewer than 64 games in a season.
This doesn’t include the deep playoff runs he’s had in three of his five professional seasons.
Like Tatum, Jaylen Brown has also played his fair share of games and minutes in his career. Brown has missed no more than 16 games in a single season. He, like Tatum, has also had deep playoff runs. Brown has advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Finals in four of his six seasons.
Tatum even mentioned that during the Finals run he felt exhausted. So when you’re aspiring for a championship, a few games off isn’t the worst thing in the world.
When it comes to the bigs, the days off are more important. Simply because of Al Horford’s age and Rob Williams’ health.
Robert Williams hasn’t played more than 61 games in his career. He is coming off two surgeries in the same knee that sidelined him until mid December this season.
Having Rob right for the playoff run is of utmost importance for this team. Doing so might require more depth at the five.
Al Horford is in his 16th season at 36 years old, but is still one of the most important pieces on the roster. His ability to defend one through five, and space the floor offensively is key to the team.
Maintaining Al’s minutes and keeping him on low run or even off on back to backs only benefits the team in the long run.
When it comes to the Jays, there are a few options on the block that the Celtics can benefit from bringing in.
Cam Reddish has had a rocky start to his NBA career thus far.
After being drafted 10th overall in the 2019 draft by the Atlanta Hawks, he only played 118 games with them before being traded to the New York Knicks for Kevin Knox and a first round pick.
Not much has changed since joining the Knicks. He’s averaging just 21 minutes per game and is once again being shopped. This is the second time in his four years that a team is looking to move on from him.
He hasn’t had a breakthrough in his professional career yet. Reddish has been averaging a measly 10.2 points, 1.2 assists, and 3.0 rebounds a game. However, Reddish is a young player who entered the league with all the talent in the world.
That untapped potential, though intriguing, is not what the Celtics would be banking on when trading for him.
The Celtics would be looking for a three and D wing who can play for and alongside Jayson and Jaylen. For two second rounders, it may be a no-brainer to trade for Cam Reddish. At its highest is the young guy with major upside who breaks through, and at its worst is a minute spotter for the Jays.
Also a plus is that he’s making 4.8 million a year. Reddish fits under the Dennis Schroder TPE, allowing the Celtics to trade for him without moving any salary.
(AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
Chris Duarte was the 13th overall pick in the 2021 draft by the Indiana Pacers. He impressed in his rookie year, averaging 13.1 points per game on 43/37/80 shooting splits.
An older player, entering the league at 24, has regressed in both his point per game average and his shooting splits. However, that might have more to do with his current place on the team and the outstanding play of rookie Bennedict Mathurin.
Rumored to be shopped for a first round pick, a heavily protected first can potentially get the deal done for the Celtics. One plus is that he is still on his rookie deal and has three more years before he hits the open market.
Jarred Vanderbilt is a player who’s rumored to have a ton of interest in the trade market.
At 23 years old in his fifth season, he is the prototypical two way bench guy the Celtics often covet.
His versatility at 6’9 allows him to both fill in the wing minutes playing alongside one of the bigs or play as a small ball five if needed.
He is not much of a floor spacer. He has improved, but is still shaky at 33% on just one attempt per game. Vanderbilt is a 55% shooter from the field averaging eight points a night.
He’s a strong defender as well, averaging one steal per game to go along with eight boards a game. Both huge for a Celtics team that struggles in both departments.
Vanderbilt due to his versatility is probably the most intriguing player on the market for the Celtics. He’s also probably the most expensive. Expect a non protected first rounder to be his price tag.
He and Duarte also fit under the Schroder TPE like Cam Reddish, making it easy for the Celtics to add without moving any players.
Mo Bomba is an intriguing guy to bring in as a third big. He can play both the Al and Rob roles to some extent. At seven feet tall, offensively he can be the rim runner and glass cleaner that Rob is.
He’s averaging 12 boards a game for his career, but he also shoots the three ball well at 39% on 2.6 attempts per game. This allows him to be the floor spacer that Al is some sets.
Defensively, Mo fits right into the Celtics scheme and can play the drop big while protecting the rim. He currently averages a block per game in only 17 minutes.
So while the Celtics’ main reason for a third big is insurance for Rob and Al, and to give them some rest, he’s also flexible enough to fit into either spot. On any given day, he can run a role similar to that player, allowing him to play alongside the other big in some lineups.
Kelly Olynyk is another option for added depth at the big spot. A former Celtic, he’d be a welcome addition to the team.
Kelly, like Mo, can fill into the Al spot as floor spacer on the offensive side. He’s knocking down 1.4 threes a game at 41%. This is something Celtics fans are used to, as he shot 37% from downtown during his stint in Celtic green.
Kelly surely isn’t the defender either Rob or Al are. Not many bigs in the league can do what those two do in their respective roles. As a body off the bench though to buy minutes for Al and Rob, Kelly is a strong option.
The issue with both these bigs is it would cost other assets beyond picks. Kelly makes 12.4 million per year, and Mo makes 10.3 million per year. Both don’t fit in any of the Celtics remaining TPEs.
The Celtics have salaries to send out to match, but Brad Stevens always favors adding without subtracting at the deadline. Especially with a roster with championship aspirations like this one.
As stated before, the Celtics can stand pat at the deadline and still be a title favorite. However when you have the opportunity to add without subtracting and to fill some holes on a championship roster, it might be time to be aggressive.
Brad has shown he has no problem being aggressive and sending out picks to bring in players. Now just a few days away from the deadline, it is just a waiting game.