The Boston Celtics have been anticipated to have a quiet transaction season, however issues at all times get hectic coming into NBA commerce deadline week. Things already began Monday, when Stephen A. Smith stated on ESPN that the Celtics have inquired once more about buying and selling for Kevin Durant — which implies Jaylen Brown might be within the combine.

Soon thereafter, Brown was added to the harm report as questionable with a non-COVID-19 sickness. The timing raised eyebrows, although it appeared unlikely it mirrored any kind of commerce negotiation taking form. So, what on earth is happening? The Athletic’s Celtics writers Jared Weiss and Jay King dive into the whole lot as Thursday’s deadline approaches.

Jared Weiss: Not even one of the best report within the NBA can preserve the Celtics from being linked to Durant. It is sensible that Nets GM Sean Marks ought to be getting calls from all 29 of his counterparts across the league when the Durant smoke began to emanate final week. But the Celtics are one of many few groups who walked away from the Durant talks this summer time betting they didn’t want him to be a top-tier workforce and proved that to be true.

The value Brooklyn was reportedly requesting included Brown, Marcus Smart and draft picks. If that value has come down, does that change Boston’s calculus?

Jay King: Why would it not come down, although? Even at age 34, Durant has bounced again from a tough playoff sequence in opposition to the Celtics to common 29.7 factors, 6.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per sport whereas capturing an obscene 55.9 p.c from the sector. Before struggling a sprained MCL lately, he was a legit MVP candidate main a Nets resurgence. (Not that Kyrie Irving cared.) Though the knee concern is simply one other downside so as to add to his lengthy harm historical past, nothing else about this season suggests the Nets ought to decrease their value. If something, they need to solely ask for extra in the event that they do look to maneuver Durant. He has dispelled any notion he has skilled slippage.

So, yeah, assuming Durant does hit the market, the Celtics would wish to pay as much as land him. Brown would should be the centerpiece of a transfer, however a deal would require further items together with draft picks. The argument for Boston to tug the set off: The improve from Brown to Durant can be substantial. The probabilities of the Celtics profitable a title this season would soar. If Durant continues to age gracefully, he and Jayson Tatum may place Boston to regulate the league for the following few years. Would that chance make it worthwhile to swap out a 26-year-old with additional upside for a 34-year-old with an extended harm historical past and a sample of wanting out? Keep in thoughts: Brown may enter free company after subsequent season. That’s one other variable in all of this.

This is generally only a guess, however I doubt Brooklyn will entertain a Durant commerce proper now. The package deal the Nets selected in an Irving commerce suggests they needed to land items to assist them win instantly. Even if he desires out now (so far as I’m conscious, there was no report he does), the Nets have already stared him down as soon as after he requested a commerce. They have sufficient high quality function gamers to win quite a lot of video games with him this season whereas searching for one other star to pair with him. From their aspect, there shouldn’t be any urgency to maneuver on from one of many sport’s finest gamers.

Weiss: I’m additionally doubtful concerning the Durant-Boston rumor contemplating the way it emerged and the way Boston wasn’t on the radar of the preliminary leaks that groups have been lining as much as make one other run at Durant. The Brad Stevens entrance workplace tends to function quietly, however there have been too many leaks across the Nets to count on that to go fully unnoticed.

Plus, there have been sufficient rumblings that the Nets need to make one other transfer that they’re in all probability taking a look at this as their final shot to win with Durant. It can be a much bigger shock now than final offseason to see him transfer Thursday.

Quest for one more large man

King: Based on chats with quite a few individuals all through the league, the Celtics are most definitely to make a transfer at heart. What do you assume they might do so as to add one other large man behind Al Horford and Robert Williams?

Weiss: My impression is that they’re trying to spend a second-rounder or two for a middle with scoring and rebounding capacity. There’s a presumption it’s somebody to enhance Luke Kornet, however they may embrace him alongside Danilo Gallinari to take care of roster stability in the event that they wish to go for a giant like Mason Plumlee or PJ Washington, each of whom may fetch a number of second-rounders or a vanishing first that converts right into a pair of seconds if it doesn’t convey by a sure level. They can construct a package deal round Gallinari to get that finished or use Payton Pritchard as an alternative of the picks.

With Jaden McDaniels within the combine as effectively, Charlotte has a number of gamers who match Boston’s wants and might be value at the very least one second-rounder. But investing two of these picks for a participant who could have a restricted function after which hit free company appears steep. Fans usually lament the concept future second-round picks are extra than simply commerce fodder as a result of it’s lower than probably they yield a rotation participant, however they’ve to contemplate the chance value of utilizing the decide to accumulate somebody you don’t want when another person extra helpful can come alongside subsequent transaction cycle.

I don’t see any of these guys being value a couple of participant or decide, simply to be an insurance coverage coverage. Several members of the Celtics group who spoke on the situation of anonymity in current weeks questioned whether or not gamers who’re placing up numbers on shedding groups would translate effectively in considerably extra restricted roles within the playoffs the place the margin of error shrinks dramatically.

Mo Bamba and Nerlens Noel’s names have popped up as probably obtainable in my conversations with individuals across the league this week, with The Athletic’s James Edwards reporting the Celtics are one of many groups inquiring about Noel. Both gamers are on the skin trying in with groups beneath the Play-In Tournament who might be amenable to cashing in on their third-string bigs. Noel has had just a few good video games this season, whereas Bamba was capturing a hair below 40 p.c from deep and defending the rim effectively. But Bamba nonetheless has sufficient upside that Orlando will need greater than the naked minimal for him and will fare higher transferring him in the summertime. Are there any funds bigs you see being within the combine?

King: Jae’Sean Tate is one other participant that intrigues me. He’s not a middle however can defend and would bolster the Celtics’ physicality. He would overlap some with Rob Williams and has by no means shot the ball effectively from exterior, however I simply love Tate’s defensive versatility. He nonetheless has two extra seasons on his contract after this one so the Rockets may not be keen to half with him, however they’re unhealthy sufficient any of their veterans may realistically be obtainable.

Old pal Kelly Olynyk additionally has been linked to the Celtics within the rumor mill. He can be slightly more durable to accumulate than a few of these potential targets salary-wise (Olynyk’s wage is only a hair costlier than what the Celtics can afford by combining Gallinari, Jackson and Blake Griffin) however would give the Boston offense a brand new dimension as a stretch large off the bench. He may kind of play the function the Celtics envisioned for Gallinari with the power to slip from energy ahead to heart.

During Boston’s quest for a backup large, I get the sense one goal for them can be to construct a roster that may use totally different types of play throughout the playoffs. Kornet has thrived as a rim protector however isn’t probably the most versatile participant at both finish of the court docket. A distinct sort of huge would give interim coach Joe Mazzula new lineup choices, however realistically virtually all of the frontcourt playoff minutes ought to go to Horford and Robert Williams in the event that they’re each wholesome.

Payton Pritchard of the Celtics. (Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)

Pritchard’s future

Weiss: There’s been loads of concord within the Celtics locker room this season, even in the case of backing Payton Pritchard’s need to get extra minutes right here or elsewhere. His teammates have gone to bat for him quite a few occasions to say he deserves a greater alternative, with Smart most notably saying Pritchard wants to take a look at his minutes as an audition for the remainder of the league.

Last week, Pritchard went on Evan Turner’s and Andre Iguodala’s “Point Forward” podcast and responded to a query about his 5-to-10-year plan and stated, “Obviously after I’m done here, after this year, I’d like to look (to) be a part of a bigger role a little bit.” He went on to say he has had that dialogue with Stevens and he desires to be a much bigger piece of a profitable tradition. He didn’t essentially say he desires that to be elsewhere, however there are three beginning caliber guards in entrance of him on long-term contracts and one thing has to vary for him.

He’s an important match for his function now as a result of when he’s known as upon, he can present defensive power, spacing and rebounding, the sorts of stuff you need out of your emergency backup guard. I doubt the workforce strikes him now simply to get him a greater alternative, however may they transfer him to boost their depth elsewhere? Is it cheap for them to commerce him for the sake of serving to his profession?

King: Pritchard desires greater than the Celtics can provide him, which is regular for a younger participant on an important workforce. To his credit score, he has dealt with the scenario effectively. At least publicly, he hasn’t made a stink about his off-and-on minutes. He has been able to play when Joe Mazzulla calls on him. The Celtics by no means want to fret about Pritchard enjoying a egocentric fashion or missing power. When he steps on the court docket, he’s all concerning the workforce.

That’s one motive why the Celtics shouldn’t rush to do away with him simply because he desires a much bigger function in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later. More causes: He nonetheless has yet one more season left on his rookie contract. He has confirmed he can produce when given rotation minutes. At age 25, he’s on the older aspect for a third-year professional, however he’s a workaholic who nonetheless has room to develop.

All that stated, Pritchard nonetheless doesn’t have a path to a lot playoff enjoying time. Among different guards, Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon are all above him on the depth chart. Considering that, the Celtics may probably embrace Pritchard in a commerce to discover a participant at a place the place they’ve much less depth. But in addition they may provide groups one thing like Danilo Gallinari, Justin Jackson and a second-round decide or two to see what backup large man they’ll shake unfastened.

GettyImages 1243772388 scaled

Grant Williams enjoying in opposition to Thad Young of the Raptors. (John Tlumacki / The Boston Globe by way of Getty Images)

Grant Wiliams and the Danilo Gallinari gap within the rotation

Weiss: Grant Williams has been in limbo all through the season, which was off to a torrid begin after he and the workforce couldn’t shut the hole on assured cash to strike an extension by the season-opening deadline. But Rob Williams returned, Horford remained wholesome and Grant’s place within the rotation took successful.

That inconsistent function has led to inconsistent performances, the place he seems like a championship mainstay some nights after which out of sync in others. It’s made the Gallinari harm and Sam Hauser’s chilly streak extra palpable, as Mazzulla has struggled to search out second models which have greater than two gamers who’re dynamic off the dribble. Grant Williams took his aggression attacking the paint to a different degree over the previous month-plus, however some nights he can discover house to complete and on others he’s turning it over.

The Celtics and the remainder of the league noticed him fulfilling his potential sufficient within the first two months of the season to know he ought to be capable of safe a much bigger deal this summer time, although restricted free company is at all times unpredictable. Pritchard understandably desires to play, however ought to Williams need one other alternative now? Should the Celtics wish to transfer him for one thing else to spherical out their playoff rotation?

King: I assume he may wish to begin someplace, however profitable issues to him and the Celtics worth what he does. He’s enjoying 27.5 minutes per sport and has began 18 video games. He’s not only a bit piece in Boston.

As Williams confirmed throughout the playoffs final season, his defensive versatility issues within the greatest video games. He guarded Durant within the first spherical, Giannis Antetokounmpo within the second spherical and Bam Adebayo within the Eastern Conference finals. And Williams dealt with all of these matchups credibly. If the Celtics do transfer him, it ought to solely be for somebody they contemplate a rotation improve. He’s an vital piece for them now and, at simply 24, might be for years to come back.

Weiss: There aren’t many 3-and-D forwards higher than Williams within the league proper now for the worth vary. You’re proper it doesn’t make sense to maneuver him except they’re getting somebody who can present his capturing and protection whereas bringing extra scoring punch. Harrison Barnes’ identify has come up round right here for years, however the Kings are good now. It’s extra probably they pursue a wing like Keita Bates-Diop of San Antonio or Derrick Jones Jr. of Chicago, the latter of whom has a participant possibility for $3.4 million subsequent season. They’re each fringe rotation defenders who present the defensive size and mobility that might make sense complementing Grant Williams’ ability set.

I do know they might use a ballhandling ahead who can rating off the bounce to interchange Gallinari, however there are only a few of these gamers on the market on groups who aren’t viable contenders for the Play-In Tournament and would wish to squeeze the Celtics for extra worthwhile than they wish to surrender. Will Barton in Washington could be low cost and at the very least can nonetheless do one thing with the ball in his fingers, however the noise on the Wizards is that they’re not sellers proper now as they maintain on to the tenth seed.

Furkan Korkmaz reportedly requested a commerce from the Sixers in line with Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, however Hauser is a greater two-way participant in Boston’s system at this level. Everybody would love a Javonte Green reunion, however he had minor exploratory surgical procedure on his proper knee just a few weeks in the past and his return timeline is unsure. With the Play-In Tournament giving extra groups hope to make the playoffs, few groups have rotation gamers they’re keen to commerce in for a remedial participant or decide. It’s why the buyout market and their Gallinari disabled participant exception make that one of the best path to discovering one other wing.

(Top photograph of Kevin Durant and Jaylen Brown: Brad Penner / USA Today)

Source link