Celtics Linked to Former Danny Ainge Draft Darling

Justise Winslow

Getty Justise Winslow #26 of the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Boston Celtics may have let the Evan Fournier trade exception expire, but they still have the $6.9 million Juancho Hernangomez trade exception and the $5.9 million Dennis Schroder trade exception at their disposal. With those two exceptions, the Celtics can absorb any contract that makes the same amount as each exception is worth.

Among the various ways in which the Celtics could utilize the trade exceptions is by acquiring wing depth. One player who fits that mold that would fit into either of the exceptions is Justise Winslow, who makes $4.1 million and could potentially be available.

When Heavy’s Sean Deveney asked a Western Conference assistant coach about Winslow’s potential fit in Boston, the coach said that Winslow would fit better in a lesser role on a good team.

“Winslow makes sense as a fourth or fifth wing off the bench on a good team but not on a team that is probably a 10 or 11 seed.”

The assistant coach added that Winslow’s current team, the Portland Trail Blazers, doesn’t look like a winning team at the moment, which may impact his trade availability if things go south.

“You look at that roster and, they’re trying to win but it doesn’t look like they’re good enough especially if (Damian) Lillard is not back to his old self,” the assistant coach said. “If they start selling off pieces, he’d be one of the first to go.”

If the Celtics were to pull off a trade for Winslow, they’d be getting the guy former President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge tried like crazy to acquire the night Winslow was drafted.

Ainge’s Previous Interest in Winslow

Danny Ainge reportedly really wanted Winslow on NBA Draft Night in 2015. To the point where he was willing to offer a high number of draft picks to get him. Chris Forsberg detailed the lengths Ainge was willing to go to get his hands on Winslow following the draft.

The Celtics made a strong final push to multiple teams in spots 4-9 on draft day. It culminated with an all-in effort in (an) attempt to get Charlotte to deliver the No. 9 pick with Boston lusting for Duke forward Justise Winslow (the same player it coveted while trying to shuffle higher).

According to sources, the Celtics’ final offer to the Hornets was a package featuring as many as six draft picks, including four potential first-round selections (a combination of picks from this draft and in the future). But the Hornets could not be swayed and turned down multiple offers to select Wisconsin center, Frank Kaminsky.

A deal did not come to fruition, as Winslow was later selected 10th overall by the Miami Heat that night, with whom he would play for four and a half years. Meanwhile, the Celtics would end up picking Terry Rozier with the no. 16 pick and RJ Hunter with the no. 28 pick in the draft.

Winslow’s Play Last Season

While talking with Deveney, the assistant coach added that the Trail Blazers liked what Winslow did when he played for them and that Portland could stand to benefit from what he brings defensively alongside their other wing defenders.

“They liked what he did there last year, and if you put him with (Gary) Payton off the bench, that is a really good pair of defenders on the wing in your second unit,” the assistant coach said. “Chauncey (Billups) really likes him, so that might keep him around.”

Winslow only played in 11 games after the Trail Blazers acquired him from the Los Angeles Clippers. In those 11 games, he averaged 10.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while shooting 40.5 percent from three and 27 percent from three.

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