Potential Trade Sends Celtics a $69 Million Former Lottery Pick

Derrick White, Boston Celtics

Getty Boston Celtics Media Day

The Boston Celtics could use an extra big man this season, especially since prized free-agent addition Danilo Gallinari projects to be out for the basketball year due to an ACL Injury. 

In a recent discussion with an Eastern Conference GM, who was speaking with Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, the notion of trading for either a forward or center came up, to which the executive proposed a trade.

The deal would look like this:

Boston Celtics Get: Jonathan Isaac

Orlando Magic Get: Derrick White and Payton Pritchard

“The problem with White is he has a lot more value for Boston than he does anywhere else. How do you deal someone like that who has $17 million on his deal this year and another $37 million to go? You will have to take back a bad contract. If you did White and Pritchard and the Magic were willing to move on from Jonathan Isaac, that would be a really interesting deal.
Isaac is 24. you could have him grow as a role player with Tatum and Brown, just be an excellent defender. That would be an impressive defensive team. And Orlando does not know what to do with Isaac now. They need guards. Isaac is not the easiest personality but they have some culture there. It makes some sense,” The executive said.
Similar to Gallinari, Isaac remains on the sidelines due to a torn ACL, which has kept him off the basketball court since August 3, 2020 – although he is projected to return to the court this season, and many hope he’s still capable of making good on his incredible potential.

Orlando to Take Things Slow With Isaac

Speaking on September 26, as part of the Orlando Magic’s media day, President of Basketball Operations, Jeff Weltman noted that his team is taking a prudent approach to Isaac’s return to basketball activities, so as to not re-aggravate an injury that has limited the former lottery picks development.

“Jonathan will be integrated slowly. He’s still doing his individual rehabilitation, so he won’t participate in a lot of the full-team, live-practice components. He’s still ramping up. I hate to sound like a broken record; I know that this has been a long process. I always harken back to his ability to remain focused in what has really been a long ordeal for him,” Weltman explained when questioned by reporters.

Since entering the NBA in 2017 as the sixth overall pick in the draft, Isaac has struggled to remain healthy, playing in just 27 games as a rookie, 75 as a sophomore, and then 34 in his third season before missing the last two seasons completely. Yet, when healthy, Isaac has produced averages of 9.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game while shooting 33% from deep and 52.1% from two-point range. 

Trading White and Pritchard Could be Too Much

There’s no denying that the Celtics currently have a logjam at the guard position following the off-season addition of Malcolm Brogdon. Now, assuming Jaylen Brown continues to play shooting guard, the Celtics will be forced to limit one or two of their guard’s playing time.

Yet, as we all know, injuries are an unfortunate part of the game, and having the requisite depth to deal with those injuries is what separates the genuine championship contenders from the hopefuls. Neither Derrick White nor Payton Pritchard are injury-prone players, and both bring value to the Celtics rotation, but the franchise could certainly cope should they choose to trade one of them away in a future deal.

The question is, could the franchise cope if they sent both out together? After all, White is unquestionably the best connector within the Celtics ranks while Pritchard’s seemingly limitless range ensures he will always have a spot role in the rotation at a minimum. Boston’s embarrassment of riches at the guard positions could quickly become a problem area if injuries hit throughout the season.

Sure, Isaac has mountains of untapped potential, but there’s no proof he will ever be healthy enough to show the world what he’s truly capable of. So, while Boston is certainly in need of adding another big man, doing so by trading away both White and Pritchard might be a bad call.

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