Celtics Should Target Trade for Veteran Guard, Analyst Suggests

George Hill (left) and Celtics guard Marcus Smart

Getty George Hill (left) and Celtics guard Marcus Smart

While there have been some brilliant moments from the Celtics’ young guys in this strange season—specifically, point guard Payton Pritchard—it remains clear that Boston needs to add to its veteran depth to get through the regular season and survive the postseason.

With that in mind, the folks at Bleacher Report, in offering trade proposals for all 30 NBA teams, suggest that the Celtics pursue veteran point guard George Hill, who is currently on the Thunder’s roster but is very much available in a trade, as the Thunder seek to rebuild.

Hill has started six of Oklahoma City’s seven games.

The cost for Hill figures to be low—the Celtics could absorb Hill into their traded player exception and only deal away a protected first-rounder for Hill. BR suggests that Robert Williams or Romeo Langford could go back to OKC in the deal, but it is doubtful the Celtics would give up either of those guys for a 34-year-old point guard.

The Celtics did register interest in Hill in the offseason.

George Hill Would Be Celtics’ Kemba Walker Insurance

Here’s how the Celtics-Hill proposal at Bleacher Report went:

The veteran guard has more than 100 career playoff appearances on his resume, plus a low-maintenance style built around spot-up sniping, secondary playmaking and rugged defense that fits into almost any five-player puzzle. He could land in Boston and immediately provide insurance behind (point guard) Kemba Walker while scratching itches for additional scoring and spacing help.

He’s leading a fish-out-of-water existence with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the moment.

Indeed, both Hill and former Celtics big man Al Horford are elderly compared to most of their Thunder teammates. Both players are 34. On the OKC roster, nine of 15 players are 22 or younger.

Kemba Walker Will Not ‘Be Back Anytime Soon’

Hill would be a good fit with Boston, especially with the uncertainty that is lingering around Walker’s knee. Walker has been dealing with pain in his left knee for nearly a year, and while he played in the postseason for the Celtics, he had a procedure in the offseason that has kept him off the court for the start of the year and will likely keep him off through the rest of January, at least.

Walker could return at 100%, which might make a deal for Hill superfluous. The team did draft Pritchard, after all, and has been pleasantly surprised by his poise and performance. The Celtics also signed veteran Jeff Teague to be an insurance policy against Walker’s injury.

But it is difficult to trust Walker’s health and Hill is an ideal backup plan. Celtics coach Brad Stevens stated last week that Walker is expected to be out a while still.

“I think we’ll have more of a big picture update here in the next week sometime, as we thought, right around the turn of the new year,” Stevens said. “He won’t be back any time soon, certainly, you know we’re hopeful to get him back as soon as possible but we want to make sure when we do it’s for good. So I think that that’s the most critical thing from our standpoint.”

Even if Walker is healthy, Hill is effective when playing off the ball because he is such a perimeter threat. He is shooting 43.3% from the 3-point line and is coming off a year with the Bucks in which he led the league as a deep shooter, at 46.0%. At 6-foot-3, Hill has decent size and is capable of defending most shooting guards.

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