The Boston Celtics have a solid big man rotation in place this season; Al Horford, Robert Williams, and Enes Kanter are the team’s traditional big men, while Grant Williams and Jabari Parker offer the team a small-ball option.
However, with Robert Williams continuing injury issues and Horford’s increasing age, Boston’s bevy of rotational bigs lack reliability and longevity. Sure the team has struggled for rebounding production in recent years, and with the team now sitting 4th in rebounding (per NBA Stats), many would argue that it’s best not to rock the boat. However, when keeping one eye on the future, things begin to look bleak, especially since much of Boston’s contention window could end up resting on the availability of the Timelord.
It makes sense, then, that the Celtics could potentially kick the tires on young, high-upside big men that hit the trade market. Not to replace Williams, but to shore up their center rotation long-term and add a certain level of insurance to the team’s commitment to developing Williams into an elite-level rim-runner.
Alas, most high-caliber young bigs aren’t readily available in trades, especially as the younger generation of centers are multi-functional players who can stretch the floor along with attacking the glass. Still, it doesn’t hurt to keep your ear to the ground – especially when you have a plethora of short-term contracts, multiple future draft picks, and a sizeable TPE to help you make any potential deal.
Houston’s Christian Wood Rumored to Be Available
In a recent piece for The Ringer, NBA insider Kevin O’Conner detailed the Houston Rockets’ dilemma regarding Christian Wood, their marquee signing from the 2020 free-agency class.
“There is an expectation around the NBA that Christian Wood, who’s in the second season of a three-year contract, will receive significant trade interest and that Houston will entertain offers,” O’Connor wrote.
Wood, who stands at 6-foot-10, is a floor-stretching big man who can also get to work on the interior while being an effective presence on the glass in his first 20 games of the season. In his first 20 games of the season, Basketball-Reference has tracked. Wood is shooting 34.4% from deep on 4.7 attempts per game. He’s also pulling down 11.8 rebounds and hitting an effective field goal percentage of 52.4% – all why playing for one of the worst teams in the league.
Wood’s skillset has often been the envy of contending teams around the league. A young, skillful center who can operate on all three levels offensively while also being comfortable on defense is a rare commodity in the NBA. As such, it would make sense that the Celtics show interest in the sixth-year big, especially if they can get the deal done with expiring contracts and draft picks.
Furthermore, Wood earns approximately $13.5 million per season, which would fit nicely into the Celtics current TPE, allowing them to avoid any need to match salaries in a potential deal.
According to O’Connor, one of the reasons Wood originally joined the Rockets was to play alongside James Harden, who left shortly after the big man signed for the franchise. “One of the reasons he signed with the Rockets over other interested teams was to play with James Harden, and Harden is long gone,” O’Connor explained in his article.
Perhaps the opportunity to play alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could be enticing enough for the stretch-5 to consider joining the Celtics and re-signing with the team long-term after the 2022 season.
Daniel Theis Could Be Cheaper Alternative to Wood
Another player mentioned in O’Connor’s piece for The Ringer was former Celtics big man Daniel Theis, who left the franchise when he was traded to the Chicago Bulls at the 2021 trade deadline.
Theis remains a fan favorite in Boston and has proven to be a capable understudy for NBA offenses, cementing himself a rotation role on each of his last three teams. However, Theis doesn’t solve the Celtics issue of longevity at the center position and would likely fill a role another member of the roster is already producing in, lowering the chances of a Celtics reunion in the near future.
Furthermore, unless Boston were sending some of their own big’s to Houston, there would be an enormous logjam at the four and five. It’s fair to envision the Celtics making a move to both streamline their big man rotations and add an asset for the long-term, but as Theis doesn’t fit that mold, there’s little chance we see him and Marcus Smart dominating bench units in the pick-and-roll again.
For now, though, the Celtics will continue to progress with their current “big man by committee” methodology, which any team without a superstar big now adopts. And let’s be honest, right now, the center and power forward positions are working out quite well for the Celtics.