If you thought a three-team trade to secure Bol Bol was Brad Stevens being aggressive, you may want to strap in for this one.
When Stevens traded in his clipboard for a head seat in the front office this offseason, both he and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck vowed the No. 1 goal in Beantown was to “win Banner 18, or die trying.” Welp, fast forward a few months and those title aspirations appear to be on life support. The Cs currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, have floated around a .500 record all season long, and boast a 59-59 record dating back to the start of 2020.
There’s really no surprise that Boston is believed to be open for business at this year’s trade deadline. The roster could certainly benefit from a shakeup, but a complete overhaul? Well, that’s up for debate. However, with the team stuck in neutral, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley proposes the Celtics could swing for the fences — that is, with a little help from a vaunted rival.
Anthony Davis to the Celtics?
With the Lakers in the midst of their own underwhelming campaign and their “Big 3” showing similar chemistry flaws to that of the two Jays in Boston, Buckley believes it’s “feasible” to think that an Anthony Davis, Jaylen Brown swap could potentially spearhead a blockbuster between the two storied franchises.
“Is this likely? Not at all. But if each franchise feels it is stuck, it’s at least feasible to think they’d see this swap as a way to unstick themselves,” the B/R columnist wrote. “The Celtics were linked to Davis back when he wanted out of the Big Easy, and substantial interest could remain. The overlapping concerns of the Brown-[Jayson] Tatum combo would be out the window with Davis, an intimidating paint presence who can finish above the rim and find offense away from it. Having him and Robert Williams III in the same frontcourt would basically put a barricade between opponents and the basket.”
Here’s how the entirety of the B/R proposal shapes up. One that Buckley openly admits, may “shock you”:
- Boston Celtics receive:
- Anthony Davis
- Talen Horton-Tucker
- Kent Bazemore
- 2027 first-round pick (top-three protected)
- Los Angeles Lakers receive:
- Jaylen Brown
- Marcus Smart
- Aaron Nesmith
- 2023 second-round pick (via POR)
The Lakers are woefully short on trade chips, but dangling Anthony Davis would open up the tier of elite targets otherwise inaccessible to them. Jaylen Brown looks like he was built to cure their biggest issues, simultaneously scratching itches for shot-creation, three-point shooting and perimeter defense. He is young enough (25) to run the floor with Russell Westbrook and skilled enough to work half-court sets with LeBron James.
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Overview of Full B/R Proposal
This trade is highly improbable. But for the hell of it, we’ll dig a little deeper. Trading Smart, the Celtics’ longest-tenured player, would theoretically open the door for Dennis Schroder to close out the season as Boston’s lead guard. The former Sixth-Man of the Year runner-up has scored 23-plus points in three of his last five games with Smart sidelined due to a right thigh contusion and then a stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocol.
As far as a long-term answer at point guard, Buckley notes that “the future pick, which wouldn’t convey until James was 42 years old and (presumably) done with the Lakers, could have considerable trade value for Boston to pick up a replacement floor general.”
NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski did reveal on January 17 during a segment on ESPN’s “NBA Today” that the Celtics are believed to be gauging the value of Smart and their young wings on the trade market. A two-time All-Defensive first-team selection, Smart currently ranks second in the NBA in steals per game (1.9) and would give Los Angeles a much-needed on-ball defensive presence. As for Nesmith, he’s failed to crack Ime Udoka’s rotation this season and has seen his consistency from beyond the arc plummet in year two (23.5% 3-point percentage). A change of scenery could help rewrite the career trajectory for a player who was once widely regarded as the best shooter in his draft class.
Horton-Tucker’s stock is far from sky-high and as a 27.2% career shooter from deep, he doesn’t present the shooting upside that the Celtics so desperately seek. Still, he’s just 21 years old so there is upside there. Bazemore, on the other hand, is 32 years old, but is just one year removed from knocking down 40.8% of his 3-point shots as a member of the Warriors.
In reality, many of the secondary pieces in this proposal do make sense for each team involved — at least to a certain degree. However, none of that really matters as the chances of the Lakers or the Celtics moving off their respective All-Star before the February 10 deadline is slim to none.