Something isn’t right with the Boston Celtics roster; that’s a given at this juncture of the season.
Some will point to a lack of spacing, others to a lack of leadership and anything in between. The only thing we know for sure is that the Celtics are struggling to maintain a dominant position during games.
We’ve seen it too many times this season, the Celtics gain a sizable lead, and suddenly they’ve imploded on both sides of the ball. You don’t have to look further than the Celtics’ December 6 loss to the New York Knicks for proof of their lackadaisical approach to maintaining an advantage.
Of course, when a team is struggling to assert their will and continually dropping games, it indicates a lack of cohesion within the roster, which is usually resolved via a trade. The issue is, outside of Robert Williams and Marcus Smart, Boston’s only tradeable assets are Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – who most people deem untradeable.
However, if the Celtics genuinely want to alter their roster and long-term future, it may cost them Brown as much as it would hurt to part with the Atlanta native.
Analyst Proposes Blockbuster Trade as ‘Last Resort’
Everybody wants to see this current Celtics core succeed – there’s something nostalgic about watching home-grown talent grow. However, winning isn’t easy, as Tatum recently discussed in a post-game press conference.
Holding onto a dream too long is also a dangerous road. Should the front office continue to shuffle the roster in hopes of finding the missing pieces to the puzzle? Or is it clear that Brown is the piece that doesn’t quite fit? The jury is out on the answer to this question, but it’s one the Celtics need answers to soon.
And that’s where Sports Illustrated’s Michael Pina comes into the equation, with the analyst recently proposing a “last resort” trade that would see the Celtics ship out Brown for a sizeable return of valuable role players.
In his piece, Pina postulates sending Brown to the Atlanta Hawks (his hometown team) with De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Jalen Johnson, and two unprotected first-round picks going to Boston in return.
“But—this can’t be stressed enough—as a last resort, before he enters the final year of his contract (in 2024) on a team that seemingly can’t acquire another star without including him in the deal and has no obvious path back to NBA title contention, the Celtics should at least consider such a potentially beneficial opportunity,” Pina explained towards the end of his article.
Unfortunately, anybody who likes this trade will be forced to wait. As things stand, the Celtics will feel confident they could getter a better return for their All-Star wing, and as of right now, there would be issues with Huerter’s contract after recently signing a contract extension worth $65 million.
“Pulling something this consequential off before the season ends is too financially complicated and irrevocable to actually happen—Huerter’s extension is a poison pill and both front offices should first explore other roads at next month’s trade deadline—but it has the potential of solving a few long- and short-term issues for each team,” Pina wrote.
Hunter Would Be the Centerpiece for Boston
Hunter would be the centerpiece in the deal from the Celtics standpoint, with the former fourth overall pick being the best player the Hawks would be giving up in that deal.
The first thing to note is that while Hunter is an impactful player, who has enough upside to consider him a high-level role player on a championship team, he’s not at the level of Brown. There’s also Hunter’s injury concerns to consider – in his first two seasons, the 6-foot-8 wing only participated in 86 NBA games, and he has only appeared 11 times this year.
We’ve not seen enough from Hunter to believe that he would develop into a player of Brown’s stature, nor would Celtics fans feel confident that he could remain healthy throughout a season. And on a roster that already boasts Robert Williams and Romeo Langford, adding another injury concern to the rotation wouldn’t bode well for the team’s future chances of success.
Sure, Huerter would provide Boston with elite shooting and the spacing the team craves, but other shooters on the market are just as capable but wouldn’t cost one of the team’s best assets to acquire. Perhaps that’s another reason Pina’s proposal is set in the future (possibly 18 months away) because that gives Hunter a chance to overcome his early-career issues and Huerter to continue proving he’s one of the better shooters in the NBA.
Something tells me that we won’t see the same Celtics team in 18 months anyway, and if Brown is still on this roster at that point, it’s because Brad Stevens figured out how to put a viable roster around his two All-Stars.
However, the trade deadline is right around the corner, and if Stevens wants to continue rebuilding this roster, a move of some sort needs to be made. Otherwise, trade proposals like this will start looking far more attractive than they should.