7x All-Star is Celtics ‘Primary Focus,’ Jumping Harrison Barnes: Report

Celtics interested in adding LaMarcus Aldridge

Getty Harrison Barnes #40 of the Sacramento Kings is guarded by Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns.

Having a $28.5 million traded player exception at their disposal, it’s no surprise the Boston Celtics have been readily engulfed in trade chatter. Thankfully, with the deadline a mere 10 days away, the widespread rumors appear to be diminishing in size, yet growing in realism as the team’s true targets begin to emerge.

One of those players is buyout candidate and San Antonio Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Celtics are among the leading suitors to land the seven-time All-Star, with the Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers reported as other potential landing spots.

This report was not only relayed by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer — but built upon. The B/R columnist claims that NBA personnel believe that Aldridge has surpassed Kings forward Harrison Barnes as the Celtics’ “primary” focus.

After recent weeks in which it seemed Boston was more interested in acquiring Harrison Barnes, league personnel now say Boston is primarily focused on landing LaMarcus Aldridge.

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Aldridge’s Trade Market Taking Shape

Shams notes that The Spurs are continuing to explore trades for Aldridge after the two sides mutually agreed to part ways last week. The team is hopeful they can avoid a potential contract buyout for Aldridge, who is on a $24 million expiring contract. With that said, it is unclear what San Antonio is seeking in return. Yet, reports have emerged that better detail what teams may be willing to offer.

As Heavy’s Emily Bicks has detailed, “League sources told Hoopshype.com‘s Michael Scotto, ‘Miami (Heat) has dangled veterans Avery Bradley, Maurice Harkless, and Meyers Leonard to match salaries as part of a trade package for San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge.'”

Receiving reduced minutes (25.9 per game), Aldridge has seen a sizeable dip in production this season. The former No. 2 overall pick is averaging 13.7 points, his lowest point output since his 9.0 ppg output during his rookie season way back in 2006. However, the 35-year-old does come with his fair share of positives.

In the three seasons prior to this year, Aldridge has averaged an impressive 21.1 ppg. Furthermore, the master of mid-range has begun to develop his shot from beyond the arc. Over his last 74 games, Aldridge has made 37.5% of his 3-point attempts, a 16.7% increase from his previous 13 years in the league. Also, his 157 attempted 3-pointers and 61 made 3-pointers in 2019 each marked career highs for the University of Texas product.


Could Celtics Dangle Starter in Trade for Aldridge?

Fischer’s B/R colleague, Greg Swartz originally floated a trade proposal between the Spurs and Celtics upon the initial news of Aldridge’s pending divorce from San Antonio. The proposal would see the two teams swapping bigs, as Aldridge would head to Boston in exchange for starting center Tristan Thompson.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Thompson could reportedly be traded ahead of the March 25th deadlines with the Toronto Raptors emerging as a potential destination.

Thompson, 30, is currently averaging 7.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game over his first 36 games (31 starts) in Beantown. The veteran inked a two-year, $19 million deal over the offseason, and is the only player on Boston’s otherwise young roster to have won an NBA title.

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