The Boston Celtics have been great this year, but they’ve been going through a rough patch as of late. They still hold the best record in the NBA at 35-15, good for first place in the Eastern Conference, but they’ve lost three games in a row to the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and New York Knicks.
Injuries have affected their play, but all three losses still stung. And with the February 9 trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Celtics have some serious decisions to make. During a recent appearance on 98.5 the SportsHub’s Celtics Show on January 28, Celtics President of Basketball Operation gave some insight into the team’s trade deadline plans.
“I think we always have to be looking at how we can improve because I think we’re in the mix and I think we’re good, I think we’re hard to beat, but there are other teams that are like that, too,” Stevens said, as transcribed by NBC Sports Boston. “So anything that you can do to improve your opportunities, you need to really vet and look at… We have a really good core that’s played together in big moments, that understands what those moments are like, and knows how to get to where we ultimately want to go. I think what is probably more likely is evaluating how to fortify your depth, how to make sure you are as foolproof as possible.”
Stevens admitted that the team is going to be constantly looking at potential options and pathways toward improvement, despite the fact that he is happy where the Celtics are right now.
He expanded upon his comments, too, explaining that he thinks that Boston is in a place where they can compete for a title but also needs to improve.
“I think when I look at it from the big picture assessment, I would say that we’re a team that, if we stay relatively healthy and focus on some areas to improve on both ends of the floor, iron some very small things out that are very manageable, we can be in the mix,” Stevens explained. “I don’t think we’re rolling like the Bruins are rolling… In the 10,000-foot view, I’d say I feel like we have a shot. I feel like we have a really good team. I think we will be really, really hard to beat as we move forward. And, at the same time, I think that we’ve got to improve. And I think that’s usually the case with any team. Most of the teams that I’ve been on — whether it’s through personnel or just within your group — that really improve and hit that stride of growth that you see that the best teams play with late in the year — you saw it last year with our team — those are the teams that really have a shot. I feel good about where we are.”
Jakob Poeltl-Celtics Trade Deemed Unlikely
One player who has been consistently connected to the Celtics in trade rumors has been San Antonio Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl. However, according to sources who spoke with Jay King of The Athletic, a trade for Poeltl is unlikely for Boston due to the long-term contracts of Al Horford and Robert Williams.
“League sources outside of the Boston organization downplayed the likelihood of a Poeltl acquisition, pointing out that if the Spurs do deal him, the impending free agent would make more sense somewhere he is a better long-term fit,” King wrote. “With Horford and Williams each signed through at least the 2024-25 season, Boston likely has no room to commit to Poeltl as a starter on a big, long-term contract.”
Doug McDermott Deemed Potential Celtics Trade Target
Poeltl isn’t the only Spurs player who could make sense for Boston, though. According to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, the Celtics would be foolish not to inquire about a trade for Doug McDermott.
“While the Celtics boast elite shooting marks across the board, a designated three-point specialist could still carve out a helpful role in this rotation.
“Boston thought it had covered that void already. Twice, actually. Between Danilo Gallinari and Sam Hauser, the Celtics thought they had their three-point marksmen on board. However, Gallinari tore his ACL before the season started, and Hauser has gone frigid since the start of December (34.9 percent shooting overall, 28.6 percent from range).
“If the Celtics haven’t at least discussed a deal for Doug McDermott by now, they’re doing this wrong.
“The veteran sharpshooter owns a career splash rate of 41 percent. He’s a savvy enough mover off the ball that he could find his footing alongside Boston’s stars and a good enough inside-the-arc scorer to maintain value even when opponents run him off the three-point line,” Buckley wrote.