Two rumored Boston Celtics targets are on the move — just not to Beantown. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to acquire stretch big Lauri Markkanen from the Chicago Bulls in a three-way sign and trade alongside the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Bulls are receiving Derrick Jones Jr., who was recently floated in a Celtics-Damian Lillard proposal, as well as a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick from Portland. As for the Blazers, they land the duties of defensive ace and versatile forward Larry Nance Jr. from Cleveland.
Earlier this month it was reported that the Boston Celtics were among a handful of teams showing interest in Markkanen. Per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Celtics were interested in adding the seven-footer on a deal worth around $15 million annually. Markkanen’s pay in Cleveland will average nearly $2 million more per season than the Cs were seemingly interested in handing him, as he’s set to earn $67 million over four seasons with the Cavaliers ($16.85 million average), via Wojnarowski.
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Celtics Were Long Linked to Nance
As for Boston’s linkage to Nance, the team’s rumored interest in the former Slam Dunk Contest runner-up dates back to this past season’s trade deadline. Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor reported back in March that the Celtics were among six teams eyeing Nance in a deal. While the Cavaliers opted against moving on from the Wyoming product at the deadline, the chatter of him potentially finding a home in Boston never truly subsided.
Mass Live’s Brian Robb highlighted the “long-rumored target” as a TPE target for the Celtics as recent as one month ago.
A long-rumored target of the Celtics, Nance Jr. suffered through an injury-plagued 2020-21 campaign that limited him to 35 games for the Cavs. His expanded 3-point range (36 percent) and defensive versatility make him an appealing target for any team, making him an ideal stretch big option for Boston. The cost will be steep from Cleveland’s demands (at least a first-round pick and a young player with promise) but it could be worth the cost for the 28-year-old.
Trade Watch: Who Jumps to the Top of C’s Wish List?
Of course, the aforementioned Damian Lillard and the overly-discussed Bradley Beal remain the belles of the ball when it comes to potential Celtics trade targets. With that said, any move for such a player would be franchise-altering — both for good and somewhat bad. The Celtics would vastly upgrade at one position, but more than likely gut their roster in the midst, and quite possibly cut ties with budding All-Star Jaylen Brown along the way.
While president Brad Stevens would be wise to continuously monitor the market for both Lillard and Beal, the Celtics have smaller fish to fry. They need to get down to the league-mandated 15-man roster, plus there could be a low-risk move or two sprinkled in between now and October 20th. Yet for the most part, Boston’s opening day roster looks close to set.
If they do opt to take a swing on the trade market, it would likely be for a versatile, glue guy to add to the roster, rather than a blockbuster deal. One player to keep an eye on is Memphis Grizzlies’ Kyle Anderson. The 27-year-old is coming off a career campaign and reportedly drew the interest of Boston prior to them landing Josh Richardson in July, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. While the latter’s addition may make the thought of acquiring Anderson obsolete, sources close to Cleveland.com have said that Anderson and Grizzlies teammate Dillon Brooks are both “available for the right price.”