Right before the the 3 p.m. ET deadline hit on March 25, the Celtics dealt Daniel Theis to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Mo Wagner, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
While Javonte Green also went to Chicago with Luke Kornet coming to Boston as part of a three-team deal with the Washington Wizards, Theis was unquestionably the biggest name involved in the move. In the midst of his fourth season in a Celtics uniform, the former German League standout is now on his way to the Windy City.
Over the past few seasons, many fans have attributed Boston’s inability to reach the Finals to the situation down low. Between Aron Baynes, Amir Johnson, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and every other Celtic that has tried to produce in the post, Boston has seen its fair share of underperforming big men. This led to calls for Danny Ainge to go out and get a pure punisher like Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins or Nikola Vucevic, a slate of guys that at some point or another had the chance to post 20 points and 15 rebounds on a nightly basis.
As we know now, Ainge never ultimately made a deal for any of those guys. Instead, he went ahead and signed a 25-year-old German in the summer of 2017 who had never played in an NBA game. Fans did not expect it at the time, but that 25-year-old rookie would end up doing a lot of the nitty-gritty things to bring the Celtics to two of the next three Eastern Conference Finals.
While Theis never broke any scoring or rebounding records, fans have to be happy with the mentality, grit and effort he that brought to the parquet. He was never a dominating presence that could take over a game, but he was a vital piece to a Celtics team that relied on ball movement, balance and the willingness to never give up.
In his first season in Boston, Theis averaged 5.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and shot 54% from the field and 31% from behind the arc. He exits Boston averaging 9.5 points and 5.2 rebounds with a 55% field goal percentage, and started to further develop a 3-point shot over the last three seasons. Theis shot 39% from deep in 2018-19, 33% in 2019-20 and 35% this year. He continuously improved throughout his four-year tenure with the Celtics and often stepped up in times of need.
Theis was never supposed to completely fill the void down low for Boston. That just wasn’t his role. The former German League champion was always meant to be a complimentary piece, and he played that role well. Alongside Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, there was really no need for Theis to produce monstrous numbers. He was able to spread the floor, post a double-double here and there and serve as a positive locker room influence, which is really all you needed him to do.
*The Boston Celtics are going to miss Daniel Theis.*
The loss would not hurt nearly as much if there were some quality pieces coming in. Wagner has not lived up to the expectations he set for himself after his time at Michigan, and the 11 points that the Celtics featured in Kornet’s welcome video account for nearly 2% of his 697 career points. So, it’s pretty safe to say that Boston didn’t bring in any cornerstone pieces for the future.
Through all of the ups, the downs, the obscene foul calls and everything in between, Theis bled green. He helped move along an organization that has built itself from the ground up following the departures of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Even though the next battle of the “War on Theis” will be fought in Chicago, the contributions and sprit Theis brought with him from Germany should not be forgotten.
Photo: (Brian Babineau – Getty Images)