4 intriguing Boston Celtics trade scenarios before NBA trade deadline

By Matt Johnson
Jan 4, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) and guard Jaylen Brown (7) and forward Grant Williams (12) high five during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Pressure is mounting for a Boston Celtics trade with the deadline approaching. After finish the first half of the schedule with a 19-17 record, the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference, everyone is watching closely to see what comes out of Boston before the NBA trade deadline.

Danny Ainge knows he is being watched closely. The Celtics turned down an opportunity to acquire Myles Turner this offseason, who would have provided a huge upgrade at center. Meanwhile, despite the emergence of Jaylen Brown, Boston needs more playmaking and a capable wing who can defend and play off the ball.

NBA trade rumors: Latest updates leading up to the March 25 deadline

After striking out on so many blockbuster trades in recent years, the upcoming NBA trade deadline will be pivotal for Boston. Now, let’s dive into a few Celtics trade scenarios that can help this team take the next step in the conference.

Boston Celtics trade for John Collins

Celtics trade: Boston Celtics trade rumors: John Collins
Feb 24, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins (20) shoots against Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard (11) during the second half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
  • Boston Celtics receive: John Collins
  • Atlanta Hawks receive: Payton Pritchard, Robert Williams, 2021 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick

The Atlanta Hawks are willing to listen to offers for John Collins and for good reason. The talented forward is headed for restricted free agency and looking to get paid. While there’s a chance Atlanta could re-sign him, his asking price makes that far less likely. Plus, as the Sacramento Kings learned with Bogdan Bogdanovic, sign-and-trade deals can backfire with other teams get upset. So, now might be the time for Atlanta to trade Collins.

Related: NBA playoff predictions – From top seeds to bracket & Finals

Collins would bring a lot to the Celtics and it might be just the environment for him to thrive. He is evolving as a playmaker and is shooting 53.6% from the field and 38.8% from beyond the arc. The 23-year-old isn’t putting up the stats (18 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG) we saw last season (21.6 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.6 BPG), but part of that may be due to Trae Young and the arrival of Clint Capela.

As detailed by The Athletic, Atlanta is a significantly better team when Collins is on the floor and he is making strides defensively. Collins fits perfectly with Boston’s young core, he is a capable shooter on the outside, can work off the pick-and-roll and his game is improving. While landing him would be costly and he needs to get paid, he could thrive in Boston.

Harrison Barnes traded to the Boston Celtics

Celtics trade: Harrison Barnes: Boston Celtics rumors
Nov 25, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes (40) drives to the basket while Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) defends during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
  • Boston Celtics trade: Carsen Edwards, 2021 first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick, 2027 second-round pick
  • Sacramento Kings trade: Harrison Barnes

When considering need and value, a Celtics trade for Harrison Barnes makes a ton of sense. Sacramento’s new general manager Monte McNair cares a lot about financial flexibility and assets, having both the cap space and capital to acquire talent. With the Kings in a rebuild, despite his on-court impact and role in the locker room, trading Barnes and his contract (owed $63 million over the next three years) makes sense.

Related: Will the Boston Celtics trade for Harrison Barnes?

Barnes is capable of guarding either forward position, an assignment the Kings have asked him to take on quite often. Boston is looking for that versatility. The 28-year-old is also a reliable shooter, drilling 39.2% from beyond the arc this season and 49.2% from the field. He’s especially comfortable shooting from the corner, hitting 43.2% from three-point range in either spot. As demonstrated by his career-best 13.6% assist rate this season, he can also facilitate when needed.

The Kings might be the perfect Celtics trade partner. Boston can eat Barnes’ contract via the Gordon Hayward trade exception, can attach a 2021 first-round pick, an intriguing guard like Carsen Edwards and future second-round picks. It would likely be a deal both sides would walk away happy to make.

Boston Celtics trade with Houston Rockets for P.J. Tucker

Boston Celtics trade: Celtics rumors:  P.J. Tucker
Feb 26, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (17) points as he makes a three point basket against the Toronto Raptors during the first half at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
  • Boston Celtics acquire: P.J. Tucker
  • Houston Rockets acquire: Carsen Edwards, Grant Williams, 2021 second-round pick

Will the Celtics trade for an impact player? Fans have hoped for it every year, but Danny Ainge rarely delivers. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he scours the market for bargain options, hoping smaller additions and his hand-picked players will step up to carry this team to the NBA Finals.

Related: 4 potential Houston Rockets trade scenarios ahead of NBA trade deadline

Nearly every championship contender wants P.J. Tucker. He isn’t happy in Houston and the front office is ready to sell off its veteran assets. In the final year of his contract, the 35-year-old wants to compete for a ring. He’s certainly someone Boston would love to have, even if his three-point shooting doesn’t return.

Even with age, Tucker still shows he can guard multiple positions on the floor. The combination of intelligence, instincts and toughness continue to make him impactful on the other end of the floor. While he is shooting a woeful 31.4% from beyond the arc this season, a change of scenery could help him return to the player that drilled 37% of his shots from deep from 2017-’20. Edwards and Grant Williams can easily be moved by Boston, filling Houston’s desire to roll the dice on young talent.

Aaron Gordon traded to Boston Celtics

Celtics trade: Aaron Gordon: Boston Celtics
Jan 15, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) dribbles the ball down the court against Boston Celtics forward Aaron Nesmith (26) during the second quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
  • Boston Celtics trade: Romeo Langford, 2021 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
  • Orlando Magic trade: Aaron Gordon

The Celtics would love to acquire Nikola Vucevic, but they don’t really have the quality of assets to land the All-Star center. While they might not match with Orlando on that front, the two teams should certainly explore an Aaron Gordon trade that could leave both sides feeling satisfied.

NBA rumors: Will the Celtics trade for Aaron Gordon?

Boston can take on Gordon’s $18.1 million salary this season via the trade exception, so the finances of a deal aren’t a problem. Unlike Collins and Tucker, he is also under contract for the 2021-’22 season ($16.4 million). Orlando’s 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per contest this season, drilling 1.6 three-pointers made per game.

If the Boston Celtics trade for a player by March 25, you can find analysis and reactions at the link below.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Celtics, check out #Celtics rumors, rankings, and news here.