Options For Celtics In Trade Talks With Raptors: Report

Getty Images OG Anunoby and Stanley Johnson of the Toronto Raptors celebrate after the 107-102 win over the Indiana Pacers

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge could be closing in on a deal with the Toronto Raptors that will boost the team’s second unit and give head coach Brad Stevens the kind of weapon he’s yearned for.

The Raptors (17-22), currently tenth in the Eastern Conference standings, are on a five-game losing streak and could be searching for extra muscle in the paint in the form of Celtics center Tristan Thompson, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes: Celtics, Raptors In Trade Talks For Tristan Thompson

“League sources said the Boston Celtics could trade their starting center by the March 25 trade deadline,” Haynes wrote. “With the Toronto Raptors being a possible destination.”

While some Celtics fans would love to see Ainge use this opportunity to upgrade the center position in a big way, Boston won’t benefit much from a potential 2-for-1 swap with the Raptors, who are expected to be sellers between now and the NBA trade deadline. Ainge wouldn’t be maximizing his efforts by sending Thompson to his native land, up north, in exchange for lackluster auxiliary pieces.

The Celtics already have enough guys like that in Semi Ojeleye, Grant Williams, and Javonte Green. Still, it is technically a viable option, given the number of expiring deals — including forward OG Anunoby, forward Stanley Johnson, and shooting guard Patrick McCaw (to name a few) — currently under Toronto’s cap and the upside that one of those reserves can offer.

Celtics’ Tristan Thompson In Exchange For Raptors’ Stanley Johnson & Patrick McCaw?

In an effort to match Thompson’s salary, the Raptors could (realistically) send Johnson along with McCaw, who’s making $4 million, this year, in order to match Tristan’s $9.2 million deal. Johnson, who’s averaging over 13 minutes per game for the first time in two seasons, could become a valuable piece for the Celtics’ postseason run but I’m not sure it’s something I’m willing to confidently bet on.

Defensively? Yes; he can make an immediate impact. But could Johnson be a reliable offensive weapon; eh, maybe?

Johnson’s defensive versatility bodes well for his 3-and-D persona as the Celtics have been in dire need for a reliable secondary wing defender. Also, Stanley, whose 40% 3-point shooting touch on the season would technically make him the fourth most-efficient outside shooter for the Celtics and give Stevens a dose of firepower on the offensive end of the floor, if Ainge were to deal for Stanley.

Boston’s outside touch — which ranks just outside of the league’s top-10 (37.5%) — has been inefficent, nor have they been able to defend 3-point shooting at a consistent rate, this season. Johnson could potentially address both concerns.

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Also, Ainge’s reported interest in potentially signing San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge; who’s reportedly on his way to becoming a buyout candidate, is another thing to consider. If that’s a realistic possibility, dealing Thompson for Johnson wouldn’t be, so bad.

If Ainge is able to swap out one veteran big man for another while reeling in a 3-and-D, low-cost/high-reward kind of player in Johnson; than so be it.  The Celtics would still have the TPE at their disposal, in case Ainge is willing to throw all his chips into play while in his seat at the NBA’s trade deadline table.

Still, Danny could also risk missing out on a better return package for Thompson, elsewhere. That’ll be a tough pill to swallow, considering everything this team’s been through this season.

Especially, if Johnson’s a flop and Aldridge doesn’t end up joining the Celtics.

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