Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens could be on the verge of striking a deal days before the first trade deadline of his young managerial tenure. Still, how significant of a move is Stevens looking to make?
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B/R Proposal: Celtics’ Al Horford for Kings’ Harrison Barnes
According to Swartz, this move is mutually beneficial for Boston and the Kings. Barnes’ production could be the missing piece that the 2021-22 Celtics needed all along, as he would alleviate pressure offensively for All-Star Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart.
Here’s how B/R’s deal breaks down:
- Boston Celtics receive:
- Harrison Barnes, SF
- Alex Len, C
- Sacramento Kings receive:
- Al Horford, PF/C
- 2022 first-round pick (lottery protected)
Barnes’s 3-and-D style of play fits a team with the third-most efficient defense in the NBA, per Teamrankings.com.
Boston also sits in the bottom half of the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage; per Teamrankings.com, the former Golden State Warrior would significantly improve the Celtics in that mainly statistical category.
“The Celtics rank just 22nd in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage (35.2) and need more floor-spacers for guys like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart to kick the ball out to,” Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz wrote. “Barnes is hitting 43.6 percent of his threes off the catch (40.7 overall) and averaging 16.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists for the Kings this season. He can play either forward position and mix and match defensively with Tatum in the frontcourt.
“Len would give Boston some big-man depth after losing Horford, and the move would also cut $2.9 million off Boston’s payroll, dropping them below the luxury tax.”
Is Kings’ Harrison Barnes The Celtics’ Missing Piece?
Sacramento hasn’t reached the playoffs in over 15 years. For a team holding onto playoff aspirations in the Western Conference, the Kings would be acquiring a new defensive anchor in Horford to help keep that hope alive.
While Al’s skillset on the offensive end diminished, Horford’s defense featured him alongside starting center Robert Williams and thrived in his second stint in Boston this season.
“Horford would likely become the Kings’ starting power forward next to Richaun Holmes and give Sacramento a playoff-tested veteran win the locker room,” Swartz added. “The 35-year-old is still productive (10.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 blocks a game) and is a better passer than Barnes, even if he’s not as accurate from deep. Sacramento could keep its playoff hopes alive now with Horford and collect an extra first-round pick in the 2022 draft in the process.”
A player of Barnes’ magnitude moves the needle offensively for the Celtics, especially in supplementing shooting for Tatum, Brown, and Smart. However, whether or not it’s a move that makes Boston significantly better or anywhere near a championship contender is yet to be seen.