Not too long ago, the Boston Celtics looked to be taking the form of sellers at the trade deadline. Floundering around a .500 record for much of the first half of the season, it sounded as if avoiding the luxury tax and opening up financial flexibility down the road was a primary task for Brad Stevens. However, things in Beantown have taken a turn for the better of late, which may be altering the C’s approach ahead of February 10.
The Celtics are currently riding a season-high four consecutive victories, while their 7-3 record over their last 10 games is tied for the second-best win/loss ratio amongst all Eastern Conference teams during that span. Now sitting at 29-25 on the year, the once-perceived afterthoughts are just five games behind the first-place Chicago Bulls in the East and could be eyeing some added firepower for a playoff push.
Proposal Sees Harrison Barnes Finally Land With the Celtics
Keith Smith of Celtics Blog may have mustered up a scenario where the Cs can have their cake and eat it too — both bolster their roster and save some cash. On January 19, The Athletic’s Jared Weiss reported that Boston has been shopping veteran Al Horford ahead of the deadline. With that in mind, Smith proposes the Celtics package the five-time All-Star alongside wing Romeo Langford and a 2022 first-round selection to finally yield the services of the readily linked-to Harrison Barnes. Here’s how Smith’s hypothetical deal shapes up:
- Boston Celtics receive:
- Harrison Barnes
- Alex Len
- Sacramento Kings receive:
- Al Horford
- Romeo Langford
- 2022 first-round pick
Why would the Celtics do this deal? Boston would do this deal because they get better and cheaper. At least for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. The Celtics take on about $3 million in guaranteed salary for 2022-23, but that’s something to worry about next season.
Barnes is a good player. He’s the exact kind of 3/4 Boston has needed for a while now. His shooting and ability to slot in as somewhere between the Celtics third and fifth-best player is perfect. Like Powell, Barnes knows how to play a role next to stars.
What Would it Mean for Boston?
As Smith highlights, Len’s involvement in the proposed deal is mostly to align salaries. With that said, the former No. 5 overall pick remains a serviceable backup center. Which would prove crucial if the Celtics were to unload Horford, who not only serves as the team’s starter at power forward but also a backup to Rob Williams at the center position. The 7-foot-1-inch Len, who boasts career averages of 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, could shoulder reserve minutes behind Timelord while Grant Williams and his 42.6% 3-point percentage (10th-best in the NBA) could be given more opportunities in the frontcourt.
Barnes, 29, has been long connected to the Celtics and was a favorite to land with Boston at last year’s deadline.
“The Celtics [could] go ahead and make this move for Sacramento small forward Harrison Barnes that so many front office folks around the league believe could be coming,” wrote The Athletic’s Sam Amick in March of 2021.
While chatter surrounding a Celtics-Barnes deal has grown quieter in recent months, the former NBA champion would still fit in swiftly as a combo forward in Ime Udoka’s lineup. Not to mention, he’s currently converting on 40.6% of his shots from beyond the arc. Boston is currently shooting 34.1% as a team from three — the ninth-worst percentage in the NBA.
If the Celtics want Barnes, they’ll need to be aggressive, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported on February 3 that the Utah Jazz are zeroing in on the Kings forward at the deadline.
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