The Boston Celtics are riding a two-game win streak for the first time in over a month. Yet, don’t let that distract you from the fact that the Cs own just a .500 record with only two games remaining until the All-Star break – not quite the championship-caliber showing many expect from Boston entering the season.
While Kemba Walker has begun to look more and more like himself of late, many continue to question whether Boston’s current construction is capable of competing in the East. With a record-setting $28.5 million traded player exception at their disposal, the team could look to build around Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum at the deadline. Or, as Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer propositioned, the team could package the former in a “realistic” deal that could help them “rejoin the East’s elite.”
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Celtics Land Kristaps Porzingis in Proposed Trade
Despite being led by one of the league’s brightest young stars in Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks stand ninth in the Western Conference. In return, the Mavs have reportedly “quietly gauged” the trade market for big-man Kristaps Porzingis, whose role as a legitimate second-option has been cast with serious doubts of late. Yet, what if a move out East allowed Porzingis to slide down the pecking order? Could playing alongside the likes of All-Stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum lead to the 7-foot-3-inch Porzingis tapping back into his ‘unicorn’ form?
“Porzingis seems over his head as a second star, but the Celtics could slide him down a rung behind All-Star swingmen Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown,” Fischer wrote. “That could be a ferocious triumvirate for the rest of the roster to follow, and all three players contribute at both ends.”
Proposed Trade Sends Kemba, Time Lord & Others to Mavs
While Porzingis’ stock may not be sky-high at the moment, a deal for the 25-year-old former All-Star won’t come cheap. In fact, in this scenario, it would call for a fellow former All-Star in exchange… and that’s just the starting point. Here’s the hypothetical deal in its entirety:
- Boston Celtics Receive:
- Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C
- Trey Burke, G
- Dallas Mavericks Receive:
- Kemba Walker, G
- Robert Williams III, PF/C
- Grant Williams, F
- 2021 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
- 2021 second-round pick
Walker being floated in trade talks is nothing new, as the team previously “tried like hell” to move the point guard at the beginning of the year, per FS1’s Ric Bucher. Averaging 26.5 ppg and 7.0 assists over the last two games, Walker’s increasing health and play may lead some to pause at the idea of moving off the 30-year-old. Yet, on the other hand, Walker’s performance of late is and will continue to increase the chances of exchanging a player once perceived as “damaged goods” for a legitimate puzzle piece at the deadline.
With Payton Pritchard, Jeff Teague and Carsen Edwards already at their disposal at the one, and Marcus Smart nearing his return from a calf strain, Fischer believes that the loss of Walker could be outweighed by the addition of a legitimate center – even if it comes at the cost of losing a budding prospect in Robert Williams.
“The Celtics need a center, having left their Al Horford-sized hole on the interior unfilled since the big man bolted in 2019. A healthy Porzingis—admittedly, something seen only slightly more often than Bigfoot—is more interesting than anyone in Boston’s center rotation,” Fischer claims. “He still offers the unicorn blend of shooting and shot-blocking as the only player with career averages of 2.0 blocks and 1.5 triples in NBA history.”
Porzingis has not looked quite the same since returning from his torn meniscus which ended his 2019-20 campaign. Yet, he’s still managed to average 20.4 ppg and shoot 34.5 from three over his 18 games this season. Furthermore, He’s 13th among centers in PER, via ESPN. Let’s also not forget that this is also a player just months removed from earning second-team All-Bubble honors after averaging 30.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
While swinging a deal for an underperforming big with injury concerns is certainly a risk, the benefits could prove seismic. Now it’s up to Danny Ainge to contemplate whether that’s a risk he’s willing to take, and for Mark Cuban – who admittedly denied shopping Porzingis – to budge on a deal.
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