The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching. And while much of the chatter surrounding the Boston Celtics of late has been about potential acquisitions, there’s a budding possibility that the team could end up moving on from one of their very own ahead of March 25th.
Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes has reported that starting center Tristan Thompson could be dealt within the coming days.
League sources said the Boston Celtics could trade their starting center by the March 25 trade deadline, with the Toronto Raptors being a possible destination.
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A Potential Homecoming for Thompson
The 30-year-old is in the first year of his two-year, $19 million deal that he inked with Boston over the offseason. The lone player with a championship pedigree on the Celtics’ roster, Thompson is averaging 7.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. The Texas product has operated mainly within the team’s starting lineup this season, starting all but five of his 36 game appearances.
A deal to Toronto would mean a homecoming for the Ontario-born Thompson. While it’s unclear what Boston would receive in return for Thompson’s services, it’s becoming more and more likely that the Raptors — currently sitting at 11th in the Eastern Conference — could be in firesale mode at the deadline.
Has Time Lord’s Play Made Thompson Expendable?
Early in the season, Boston’s most-widely perceived hole on the roster was amongst their bigs. The team’s decision to deploy both Thompson and Daniel Theis in the starting lineup was yielding negative returns. However, that narrative has since taken a turn for the better.
Thompson, while not dominant, has grown more comfortable in his new surroundings. The former NBA Champion has brought down at least nine boards in six of his last nine games. Furthermore, he’s shooting 53.4% from the field on the season, his best mark since 2017. Add in Theiss’ shooting prowess — 36.8% from beyond the arc — and the Cs have theoretically found themselves a serviceable duo of big men.
Thing is, there’s another big on the roster, one whose ceiling far exceeds just “serviceable”. His name? Robert Williams, or more commonly known to the world as Time Lord. The 23-year-old Louisiana native has taken his game to new heights in 2020-21, and is vying for more minutes.
Williams is fresh off a dominant 16-point, 13-rebound, three-block outing against the Rockets on Sunday. Shooting 7-for-7 from the field vs. Houston, the game marked the eighth-time over Williams’ 31 games this season that he has gone perfect from the floor. As we sit here today, the Texas A&M product owns a shooting percentage of 70.6%, sixth-best amongst all NBA players.
Despite his on-court brilliance, head coach Brad Stevens has been wary of putting too much strain on Williams, once again zeroing in on a previous hip injury as the main culprit. With that said, it appears as if Stevens knows it’s just a matter of time until he’ll need to take the leash off his athletic big man.
“I just think we can make it so that he can play more, and more and more as the season goes on,” Stevens said of Williams. “Again, the density of the games and his history, especially last year, we’re just being conservative. But he’s getting a lot better. You can see that. And he’s able to play a little bit longer stints than he has in the past, because he plays really hard when he’s out there. So that’s all encouraging.”
“Rob, obviously, gives us an upside there that I think we just need to keep building and building and building,” Stevens added.
Williams’ surge in play has thrown a wrench in Boston’s big man rotation. Theis drew the start on Sunday, but was quickly pulled, logging a total of just six minutes, 13 minutes fewer than Williams. As for Thompson, while the former No. 4 overall pick did man close to his typical workload (18 minutes), he — like Willams — lacks Theis’ ability to stretch the court.
It’s growing abundantly clear that Williams is part of the team’s long-term plans. With Theis bringing a different skill set to the table, Thompson could find himself on the move if Boston is presented with a welcoming enough offer.
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