Looking back on the moves made last NBA offseason, the Celtics might have some pangs of regret. The team tried to fill in some roles around stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown with veterans, bringing back Al Horford in a trade that also saw Kemba Walker depart, and filling in the roster with value acquisitions Josh Richardson and Dennis Schroder.
While one of the costs of those moves has been to suppress opportunities for the likes of young guys Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford and Payton Pritchard, there is a cost the Celtics could wind up regretting for a while: The team had to forfeit a first-round pick to get rid of Walker, the 16th overall pick.
Oklahoma City wound up using that pick and trading it to Houston for the player, it turns out, the Celtics wanted all along: Turkish center Alperen Sengun.
That is according to Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett, who talked about the fallout from that decision in a Facebook Live discussion. Said Bulpett:
They got off of Kemba’s contract and his knee issues, they brought back Al Horford but they also send out a pick, which becomes Alperen Sengun and there’s a guy that is ridiculously young, 19 now, and is raw and all that but could be—some people are telling me, he could have been the Celtics starting center for the next 10 years. (Depends) how well the combination of he and Rob Williams works together but you have two good, young big men on very team-favorable contracts. But they went with the decision that, maybe we can fix this now and go from here.
Sengun Has Shown a Lot of Promise
Sengun has played an average of 18.2 minutes for Houston this year and while he has shown he needs to add muscle and polish, his numbers have been promising. He averages 8.9 points on 48.8% shooting, and despite his potential as a shooter, he is making only 27.7% of his 3s thus far. He is averaging 4.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.9 blocks.
Sengun came into the league with a reputation as a versatile big man with upside, having been MVP of the Turkish BSL at just 18 years old. He already has an established post-up game and has potential as a roll man off the screen.
“I think he has a lot of (Domantas) Sabonis potential in his game,” one personnel man told Heavy.com. “He is just scratching the surface, though. He is more athletic, a little more nimble. I think he can get there as a shooter but he can do a lot of damage from eight feet on in to the rim.”
Celtics Might Have Lost Their Future Center
As Bulpett speculates, Sengun had the potential to be a Celtics big man, if he could play with Williams, far into the future. While dumping Walker’s contract was a positive, the Celtics did not necessarily improve their financial footing because they still owe Horford for this season and next (at $53 million combined).
Essentially, then, Sengun was the price the team paid to be rid of Walker and bring back Horford. And that is starting to look like a poor trade-off.