Pressure is mounting for the Boston Celtics to make a huge move following their premature exit at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
Boston finished the regular season with a mediocre 36-36 record and had to win a play-in game just to make the playoffs. This came after the Celtics earned a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019-20.
Head coach Brad Stevens was clearly on the hot seat, and has moved from his previous position into leading the front office after longtime general manager Danny Ainge announced his retirement.
Boasting two surefire star players in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, it’s clear that Stevens is not messing around in his new position overseeing personnel. He pulled off a massive trade, sending Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a package that got Boston veteran big man Al Horford, who’ll be in his second stint with the team. Boston then made a move for wing Josh Richardson immediately after the 2021 NBA Draft.
Below, we look at three additional blockbuster trade scenarios the Boston Celtics should consider this summer, along with the latest rumors.
Boston Celtics interested in Lonzo Ball
According to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Boston has interest in a sign-and-trade for New Orleans Pelicans restricted free agent Lonzo Ball. Per the report, the idea would be to send Marcus Smart, the recently-acquired Kris Dunn and other assets to New Orleans.
Needless to say, the Celtics are in need of help at point guard after trading Walker. Dunn obviously isn’t the answer. In Ball, Boston would be acquiring a young guard who is coming off a career-best season and seems to be a long-term option.
Boston Celtics rumors: Team set to trade young players for proven veterans?
Former Celtics front office head Danny Ainge pushed back against trading young assets and draft picks toward the latter part of his tenure in Big D. Thus far, this has not been the case since Brad Stevens took over.
That could continue on the NBA trade market with the likes of Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard and Carsen Edwards being made available.
Boston Celtics rotation gets makeover before free agency even opens up
Gone are Tristan Thompson and Kemba Walker from last season’s under-performing group. They have been replaced by Josh Richardson and Al Horford, both of whom figure to see rather extensive minutes in 2020-21. Barring a trade of one of the aforementioned youngsters, this sets the stage for a young Celtics squad heading into next season.
Of Boston’s current projected rotation, only Horford and Richardson are over the age of 26. Obviously, this could change if Evan Fournier were to re-sign once free agency opens. The potential of an aggressive Brad Stevens adding a veteran looms in the background, too.
Boston Celtics rumors: Status of Evan Fournier heading into free agency
By making the move for Richardson’s expiring contract, Boston created a ton of flexibility. It doesn’t have t overpay for Fournier months after acquiring him in a trade with the Orlando Magic. The veteran wing could earn as much as $20 million annually on the open market.
The flurry of trades Boston made following the NBA Draft creates a $9.36 million trade exception that expires in a year. It could potentially be used to find a veteran point guard. Fournier, 27, averaged a mere 13.0 points on 45% shooting in 16 games with Boston after being acquired back in March.
Boston Celtics blockbuster trade scenarios for 2021 NBA offseason
Boston Celtics trade for Pascal Siakam
- Celtics get: Pascal Siakam
- Raptors get: Marcus Smart, Kris Dunn, Robert Williams, Aaron Nesmith, two future first-round picks
Now, this would be the blockbuster that Ainge was not been willing to pull off during his tenure with the Boston Celtics. Moving off two future first-round picks and two young players in Williams and Nesmith would be a huge price to pay. But the status quo just isn’t working in Beantown right now.
In Siakam, the Celtics would be adding a traditional four with range to team up with Tatum in the frontcourt. Still only 27, Siakam is averaging 22.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 45% shooting since the start of the 2019-20 season. As for the Raptors, they struggled big time with Siakam as their primary scoring option last season. A hard reset might be in the cards here.
Boston Celtics trade for Domantas Sabonis
- Celtics get: Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday
- Pacers get: Marcus Smart, Carsen Edwards, Robert Williams, first-round pick
It’s not yet known what the going rate for Sabonis would be after a second consecutive All-Star Game appearance. What we do know is that the super-skilled big man was subjected to rumors leading up to the March 25 NBA trade deadline. Indiana is also coming off a disastrous 2020-21 campaign and may be in need of starting anew with a rebuild.
In return for Sabonis and Holiday, Indiana gets a top-end perimeter defender in Marcus Smart, two young players and a future first-round pick. From Boston’s perspective, adding Sabonis to the mix with Tatum in the frontcourt could turn this team into a legit title contender. The 25-year-old averaged 20.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists on 54% shooting from the field a season ago.