From the front office to their roster, and everything in between, the Boston Celtics will certainly look different next season. With that said, the chances that their overhaul is complete are slim to none. The team’s co-owner, Wyc Grousbeck, hinted at this much during a recent interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz, predicting a “busy July” for his Celtics while also noting that “there’s a lot of potential trades” to be had.
The most logical trade chip from Boston’s perspective is undoubtedly Marcus Smart. Entering the final year of his contract, the 27-year-old is a quality player and a defensive ace who should surely entice championship-contending teams on the open market. However, if president Brad Stevens truly wants to shake things up during his first offseason on the job, dangling All-Star Jaylen Brown on the trade market would surely reap the most prolific return.
While you’d be hard-pressed to come by a Brown trade proposal that we’d personally sign off on, Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell is far more open to the idea of cutting bait with the 24-year-old rising star — albeit for the right return. Joining NBC Sports Boston’s Sports Sunday, the two-time NBA champion ran through a handful of players he’d openly trade Brown for — and those he wouldn’t. It’s safe to that Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons clearly falls under the latter category.
“Not on this earth,” Maxwell replied when asked if he’d swap Brown for Simmons in a deal. “The guy can’t shoot, he can’t rebound, he’s a broken guy and you’re bringing him to this team to do what? No.”
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Is Simmons Broken?
Simmons is coming off an absolutely atrocious playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. The 25- year-old attempted just 6.4 field goals per game over the seven-game series, scored in single-digits on four occasions and knocked down a mere 34.2% of his free throws — the lowest percentage in a single playoffs in NBA history (via StatMuse).
He undoubtedly has his limitations and has clearly become trigger shy, if not mentally handicapped in that department. Still, even despite those drawbacks, there’s reason to be optimistic about Simmons as a player.
For starters, he remains one of the NBA’s most gifted passers. He’s also established himself as a dominant presence on the defensive end, having been named to the All-Defensive First-Team in back-to-back campaigns. Furthermore, despite Maxwell’s claim that he can’t rebound, Simmons’ 7.2 rebounds actually ranked third in basketball among guards this season (h/t NBCS’ Justin Leger) — a number that would likely only increase should he move to power forward on a semi-permanent basis.
Not Worth the Price of Admission
While Simmons’ elite skillset as a distributor is certainly intriguing for a Celtics team who recently dealt Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder, his salary and trade value doesn’t align with Boston’s roster construction.
I hear from executives all the time that are loving this ‘Ben Simmons trade value has cratered’ conversation because they hope that Philadelphia believes that. I think his trade value is actually higher than what’s being publicly portrayed. But you’re going to continue to hear a lot of the negativity around Ben Simmons.
In other words, I think people value him pretty high across the league because I do think there’s a belief that someone’s going to figure the shooting thing out.
Second, Simmons still has four years and $140 million remaining on his contract. The idea that Stevens and company would sign off on yet another monster contract after just getting out from under Walker’s seems improbable.
Most importantly, he’s not worth the Celtics washing their hand of Brown. The Cal product has increased his production in each of the past two seasons and is bordering on superstar status. He’s coming off his most prolific season to date, notching career highs in points (24.7), field-goal percentage (48.4%) and assists (3.4) and operates almost seamlessly as Jayson Tatum’s running mate.
Now, if you’re telling me the Celtics can somehow acquire Simmons while also retaining both Brown and Tatum, well then sure, sign me up. However, that doesn’t appear to be in the cards at the moment.