Recently, the Damian Lillard trade chatter has picked up steam thanks to a conversation held with ESPN’s Brian Custer where he discussed the concept of being traded to many teams, including the Boston Celtics, during a recent interview.
Though to many, a hypothetical scenario where the point guard gets sent to Beantown will almost certainly cost the franchise Jaylen Brown in exchange, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype discussed the possibility of there being another route in which they keep their newly-minted All-NBA wing and, in turn, forge the league’s newest Big-3 with him, Lillard, and Jayson Tatum.
“The other pathway is to trade anything else they can for Lillard to pair him with Tatum and Brown. They could offer a combination of players like Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, Derrick White, Payton Pritchard, and restricted free agent Grant Williams through a sign-and-trade. They also can trade a maximum of four first-round picks in 2024, 2026, 2028, and 2030,” Gozlan wrote.
Of course, this trade would completely gut the depth that helped the Celtics throughout their second-seeded 2022-23 campaign and would create a glaring hole within the club’s already lacking frontcourt rotation.
On top of this, Gozlan would go on to note the financial impact that it would have on Boston’s payroll moving forward, stating: “Even if this package appeals to Portland, fielding Tatum, Brown, and Lillard with each making over $50 million in 2025-26 is untenable for Boston under the new CBA.”
Eligible for supermaxes this offseason, should Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both agree to such terms with the Celtics, Brad Stevens and company would already be committing over $600 million to just the two players.
Adding on the Blazers star’s remaining $94 million through 2024-25 would only go on to inflate the club’s salary situation exponentially.
Nevertheless, should Boston wish to formulate a star-studded trio such as this and be willing to cough up said coin and likely pay the luxury tax along the way, Gozlan believes his proposal is one that could possibly get it done.
Shaq Says Celtics Should Split Up Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown
Though Brad Stevens himself has already publicly stated that he hopes to keep the dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown intact moving forward, former Celtics center and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal suggested during an appearance on The Big Three Podcast that Boston should consider breaking them up this summer.
“I don’t want five stars on my team. I want a guy that I can go to every night, I want a guy that’s going to lead, and I want three dogs, three others. I would prefer if they were specialists: one to be a shooter, one to be a rebounder, and one to be a fighter,” O’Neal said. “I would, business-wise, break [Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown] up and use one of them to get the pieces I want. I will say Tatum is the number one, use Brown to bring in a Brown-type player, and then just do it like that.”
Throughout their six-year tenure as a tandem, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have guided the Celtics to six-straight postseason appearances, four of which have led to Eastern Conference Finals runs and, just a season ago, an NBA Finals berth while both have combined for six All-Star appearances and five All-NBA selections.
However, despite this great level of success, Shaq believes that Brown has a strong desire to prove himself as being a true number one option in the association, which is why he believes that the wing could wind up benefiting from a change of scenery.
“It’ll be good for Brown because it’ll give him the opportunity to be number one somewhere,” O’Neal said. “He’s a number one caliber player but I can tell that it frustrates him to be the ‘other guy.’”
Celtics a ‘Top Landing Spot’ for Chris Paul
The blockbuster trade route may not be the only way for the Celtics to land a top-flight, all-time floor general this summer should they be so inclined as Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale believes Boston to be a legitimate landing spot for his services following his recent departure from the Phoenix Suns.
“CP3 would be the perfect addition for an offense that, despite ranking third in half-court efficiency, too often descended into turbulence,” Favale wrote. “There is inherent variability when teams depend on the three-ball as much as the Celtics do, but they are too easily nudged away from their best practices and into turnover tumults when shots aren’t falling, or the rate of play slows.”
Despite not living up to his lofty $28.4 million payday in Phoenix’s eyes, Paul still had himself a rather productive campaign, boasting averages of 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists while shooting 44% from the field and 37.5% from deep.