After going on a four-game win streak to close out the first half of the 2020-21 season, the Boston Celtics have stumbled out the gates in their return from the All-Star break. The Cs has now lost three of their last four games, further fueling the belief that the team must take a swing at the trade deadline.
One player that the Celtics could take a swing at is Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes. Yet, what might it cost to lure the former NBA Champion to Beantown? According to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, quite the haul.
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Proposed 4-Team Trade Sends Harrison Barnes to Boston
With the NBA trade deadline less than a week away, and a $28.5 million traded player exception burning a hole in the Celtics’ pocket, Hollinger decided to fire up the trade machine. The analyst put together a massive four-team deal, that would land the Celtics not only Barnes, but big man Nemanja Bjelica and former All-Defensive Second-Teamer, Haasan Whiteside, as well.
Here’s the hypothetical trade in its entirety:
- Boston Celtics Receive:
- Harrison Barnes, F
- Hassan Whiteside, C
- Nemanja Bjelica, F/C
- Sacramento Kings Receive:
- Tristan Thompson, F/C
- Troy Brown Jr., G/F
- Grant Williams, F
- Anthony Gill, F
- Washington Wizards Receive:
- Justin James, G/F
- Javonte Green, G/F
- Cleveland Cavaliers Receive:
- Carsen Edwards, G
But wait, we’re not done yet. On top of the 10 players moving to new cities, there’s a laundry list of moving draft capital and player rights to detail. In the deal, the Celtics would send their 2021 first-round pick and 2023 first-round pick (protected 1-4 through 2027 & reverse-protected 20-30 through 2025) to the Kings. Boston would also inherit the rights to forward Alexander Vezenkov from the Cavaliers, while Cleveland would need to waive a player — most likely Quinn Cook, per Hollinger.
Analyzing a Barnes-Thompson Swap
The Celtics’ rumored interest in Barnes is no secret. The 28-year-old forward has been readily linked to Boston for months on end. However, even with Sacramento plummeting to the depths of the Western Conference, they may remain bullish on moving off Barnes at the deadline.
“Does that mean Barnes won’t get moved? Never say never, but it seems the Kings are holding onto Barnes a little tighter than expected here,” The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported, citing Barnes’ play, professionalism and declining pay ($20.2 million next season; $18.3 million in 2022-23) as culprits.
Barnes is currently in the midst of arguably the greatest all-around season of his nine-year playing career. Through 37 games, the Iowa native is averaging 16.6 while shooting a career-best 49.4 from the field. Furthermore, his 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 0.8 steals per game all tie or mark new personal-bests for the versatile forward.
The biggest caveat in this potential deal would be giving up starting center Tristan Thompson — although that’s not really a reason to give pause. Thompson has been a steady contributor since signing with Boston this past offseason. However, the emergence of Robert Williams, as well as Daniel Theis’ ability to stretch the floor, could make Thompson expendable. The former No. 4 overall pick has recently been engulfed in trade speculation, with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reporting he could be dealt within the coming days.
Hollinger clearly signs off on the idea of a Thompson-Barnes swap, claiming it’s the best use of the Celtics’ TPE.
“Of all the ways for Boston to use its mammoth $28 million trade exception, a swap of Thompson for Barnes seems like by far the best,” Hollinger wrote. “The Celtics get a forward who can guard multiple positions, knock down open shots, and is signed for two more years after this one at declining money. That last part is important, as Boston’s luxury tax position after this season will prevent it from being a player in sign-and-trades or even in signing players for the full mid-level exception.”