Trading Jaylen Brown at Top of ‘Offseason To-Do List’ for Celtics

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics

Getty Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics controls the ball ahead of Caleb Martin of the Miami Heat.

The Boston Celtics will be looking to make significant shakeups to their roster that just finished as the Eastern Conference runner-ups after losing in seven to the Miami Heat in the conference finals.

To Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, the club’s first order of business on their “offseason to-do list” should be to split up their All-Star tandem and trade Jaylen Brown.

“Because he just made All-NBA, Jaylen Brown is eligible for a gargantuan five-year, $285.6 million extension. Jayson Tatum is almost certainly going to be one year behind with a similarly jaw-dropping deal. And under the new collective bargaining agreement, which essentially introduces a hard cap in the form of its new “second apron,” having two such contracts on the books is going to be incredibly onerous. You darn-near have to be sure you can win a title with those two guys. And while the Boston Celtics can maybe talk themselves into that, the prospect of turning Brown into more than one role player or some future assets should be on the table,” Bailey wrote.

Despite Bailey’s sound argument, Celtics president Brad Stevens has already gone on record to state that “Without a doubt, we want Jaylen to be here” for the long haul and that “he’s a big part of us.”

Still, the B/R writer certainly isn’t the only one to be under the impression that Boston should look to break up the tandem of Brown and Jayson Tatum.

Shaq Urges Celtics to Split Up the Jays

Despite the fact that Tatum and Brown have already 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 throughout their six-year tenure together, like Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal suggests that it may be time to split up the Jays.

“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 on The Big Three Podcast. “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.”

Regarding Jaylen Brown, Shaq would continue on by noting that he “can tell that it frustrates him to be the ‘other guy’” next to Tatum with the Celtics and that a trade where he heads outbound could be the best way for him to finally become the main focal point for an NBA team.

As noted by the former Boston big man during his appearance on the podcast, the 26-year-old wing has proven himself to be “a number one caliber player” in this league, and his career-best averages of 26.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 49.1% shooting from the field this past season only strengthen such a notion.

Celtics Urged to Monitor Kristaps Porzingis

Should the Celtics ultimately opt to not split up Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown — something one NBA executive told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney the Celtics can’t afford –, obviously the goal for the front office should remain to build a competitive roster around them.

One way of accomplishing such a feat could be by scouring the trade market for a potentially available star-caliber player, and NESN’s Gio Rivera is of the belief that pursuing a deal for Wizards big Kristaps Porzingis could be a move worth considering.

“No, he’s not the same must-watch “unicorn” talent he once was in a New York Knicks jersey, but that isn’t what the Celtics would need. Porzingis is still an elite-level front-court threat with the ability to protect the glass and score, leading the Wizards in both points (23.2) and rebounds (8.4). Obviously, there’s the salary factor in place that won’t complicate this hypothetical trade target, but the 27-year-old would be a huge upgrade from the cement-footed Al Horford, who is far beyond his prime and got exposed for his age all throughout the playoffs,” Rivera wrote.

Coming off what was easily his best campaign since being selected to the 2018 All-Star Game, through 65 contests Kristaps Porzingis posted impressive per-game averages of 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks while shooting 49.8% from the field and 38.5% from deep.

Despite his stellar productivity, however, Josh Robbins of The Athletic reported that many rival executives across the league seem to believe that Washington could be open to a rebuild which, should this happen, the power forward would likely be a prime candidate to be dealt outbound in an effort to shed salary space (owed $36 million of his $158 million deal) and create openings for younger talents on the roster.

If this were to be the Wizards’ plan, Rivera seems to believe that the Celtics should be interested in the possibility of obtaining Kristaps Porzingis’ services.