Yes, yes. We know. The Celtics could use an upgrade in the middle. The team has known this since July, when Al Horford left in free agency and Boston dealt away Aron Baynes. The progress of the season has confirmed as much, too. It’s been a piecemeal situation in the middle for the Celtics and finding a multi-faceted big has proven difficult.
But the Celtics signed Enes Kanter to give the team an offensive option at center. They brought back Daniel Theis, who is undersize and not particularly skilled offensively, but plays good defense, rebounds and launches an occasional 3-pointer. He has the fewest weaknesses among the centers on the roster, so he gets the bulk of the minutes.
The Celtics have Robert Williams coming back from a hip injury and have liked what Grant Williams offers when he is not completely outmatched, size-wise. It’s center-by-committee and a look at the trade market shows that the best the Celtics can do is add another flawed member to that committee. There is no single center who will check all the Celtics’ boxes.
When it comes to trade targets, according to league sources, the Celtics are more focused on bolstering their bench, which has been among the weakest in the league. Boston gets 28.8 points per game from its reserves, which is 28th in the NBA.
So who are the Celtics after, anyway? Some top targets:
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kings
Sacramento has been squirrelly about dealing Bogdanovic all year. The Kings have pushed back on trade talks as they’ve held out hope that a run to the playoffs could be forthcoming but that notion has all but disappeared. Bogdanovic will be a restricted free agent this summer and is expected to look elsewhere, putting pressure on the Kings to find a new home for him now and get back something in return. He is the ideal target here, a bench producer who can handle the ball, pass and make 3-pointers. He makes $8.5 million and the Celtics would have to package Kanter and some combination of a young player and picks. But adding Bogdanvoic would push the Celtics more comfortably into the No. 2 spot in the East.
Malik Beasley, Nuggets
There is a major stumbling block here: Rich Paul. Just a year ago, remember, Paul orchestrated a campaign to get Anthony Davis to the Lakers and, as part of that campaign, the Celtics were frozen out. That’ll be tough to ignore here, but maybe those bygones are bygone. But Beasley would be a good fit in Boston, even if his impending free agency means he won’t be around long. The Celtics have three first-round picks in the upcoming draft and some decent young players to offer the Nuggets. Beasley was bumped out of the rotation, though he’s been playing more again with Jamal Murray’s injury. He’s a good two-way player who has been solid from the 3-point line in his career (38.3 percent in four seasons).
Derrick Rose, Pistons
The Celtics could get this done if they wanted. But Rose has already said he wants to stay in Detroit. He’d accept a trade, though. They’d have to cough up the Memphis 2020 pick, which is lining up to be somewhere from Nos. 13-18. They’d have to give up Enes Kanter, too, to make the money work. Rose, averaging 18.9 points off the bench in Detroit, would be the kind of bench scorer that could remake the team’s woeful reserve unit.
Markieff Morris, Pistons
He’s not as good as his brother, former Celtics and current Knicks forward Marcus Morris, but he is slated to make just $3.2 million this year. Marcus is getting $15 million. Markieff is the easier get, with Boston coughing up a second-round pick. He can shoot the 3 and does have his brother’s toughness and swagger, which is lacking on this team.
Alec Burks, Warriors
Someone has to score for the Warriors outside of D’Angelo Russell and it has been Burks, averaging 15.8 points, a career-high. He’s on a veteran’s minimum deal ($2.5 million) and likely won’t be around next season. The Warriors will take what they can get for him. Boston doesn’t need 15 points per night form Burks, but a capable scorer who can pitch in double-figure scoring would do nicely.