The Boston Celtics currently boast the best record in the NBA, sitting atop of the Eastern Conference standings with a 12-3 record, 0.5 games ahead of the second-placed Milwaukee Bucks.
However, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus believes that Boston is still a realistic landing spot for Kevin Durant, assuming the $194 million superstar decides to reinstate the trade request he submitted during the off-season.
“Boston can offer fewer first-round picks as other prospective suitors (up to three outright and three swaps), and the Nets might desire Marcus Smart to round out a deal. Brown’s $28.7 million gets most of the way to Durant’s salary, and the Celtics can get the rest of the way there relatively easily without Smart. But the team has the best overall record in the NBA at 12-3, improved with the addition of Malcolm Brogdon after its NBA Finals appearance in June,” Pincus wrote on November 17.
Of course, Durant would be a significant addition to Boston’s rotation, however, they certainly don’t need to make any deals for a star-level player at this current moment, not when everything is clicking so well. As such, even if Durant did become available again during the current season, it’s hard to envision the Celtics picking up the phone, let alone sitting down at the negotiating table.
Celtics ‘Hold Interest’ in Jakob Poeltl
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on a November 16 episode of The Hoops Collective podcast, the Celtics are rumored to hold interest in Jakob Poeltl of the San Antonio Spurs.
“The question is, ‘does this team need to go out and get another big man who can defend?’ The name that has come up that people have speculated has been Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs. They did a deal with the Spurs last year, obviously, for Derrick White…The Celtics are in the tax for the first time in a while. They’re willing to spend. They can trade a first-round pick… Poeltl makes $9.3 (million). That’s not a huge salary to try to get up there and match. If they’re willing to include a pick, the Celtics can do it.,” Windhorst said.
Poeltl, 27, would be a significant upgrade over the Celtics’ current backup center options and has been in solid form this season, averaging 13.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game on 65.9% shooting from deep. However, Windhorst stopped short of proposing a trade package, and there’s no guarantee Boston would want to tamper with what is currently proving to be a winning formula.
Mazzulla Could Land Celtics Job Full-Time
Irrespective of whether the Celtics decide to make an in-season trade or not, it’s clear that their current team is capable of competing for an NBA championship, and is one of the best teams in the NBA right now.
Impressively, the Celtics have come out of the gates hot despite a rocky end to their off-season preparations which saw Ime Udoka suspended for the entirety of the 2022-23 NBA season. However, since taking the reigns as interim head coach, Joe Mazzulla has been exceptional and has helped develop the Celtics’ offense into the most fearsome in the league.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Mazzulla’s impressive start to life leading the Celtics hasn’t gone unnoticed, and now, there’s a significant chance he lands the job as Boston’s long-term head coach, once the team makes a final decision on Udoka’s future.
“Everything is aligned and in place for Joe Mazzulla to be the long-term coach for the Boston Celtics, except one thing – Ime Udoka is technically still the head coach of the Boston Celtics on suspension…But for all intents and purposes, he has coached his last game in Boston. This is uncharted territory,” Wojnarowski said.