In the midst of wacky and not-so-wacky trade scenarios for the Boston Celtics lies a move that isn’t going to jump out at you when you read its headline.
But it would benefit both sides and solve a daunting issue facing Brad Stevens and his 2020-21 roster. Boston Sports Journal’s Brian Robb joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Adam Jones Show” Thursday evening when he addressed the Celtics’ Gordon Hayward situation and was asked to do his best Danny Ainge impression in terms of what sort of moves he would pursue as the Celtics president of basketball operations.
Robb struck out with hosts Adam Jones and Christian Arcand when he floated a couple of ideas; one included Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes – which received a resounding “no” – then he came to the third option, which sounded a lot more intriguing.
“What about Gary Harris or Will Barton in Denver?” Robb proposed. “You get both, for the money to work; they’re both slightly overpaid. Harris is around $20 million, Barton’s about over $15 million.”
Gordon Hayward For Gary Harris & Will Barton?
Harris has two years left on his four-year, $84 million deal with the Nuggets. He’s owed $19.1 next season, $20.8 million for the 2021-22 season, and it is guaranteed.
Barton, who is also signed through the next two seasons, is owed $13.7 million next year and the final year of his deal is a player option worth $14.6 million for the 2021-22 season.
The Nuggets will be looking to cut bait this offseason; a two-for-one swap for the best player in a proposed offer involving Hayward is a great way to consolidate assets, especially, for a title-contending team.
“Denver’s in a situation where they might be looking to dump some long-term money and see (where they’re at),” Robb said. “Harris had a bad year. Barton was hurt for their whole playoff run so he can be seen as expendable income. I think Hayward’s a step up on both of those guys, so they say, ‘OK, let’s bring in a guy to upgrade one spot for two there’ and maybe the Celtics sweeten the deal with a late first-round pick.
“I think that’s the kind of offer if you knew Gordon Hayward wanted out after next year anyway; that’d be the kind of thing I’d try to get in here because then you’d actually provide some stronger depth to your bench in that scenario.”
Gary Harris & Will Barton’s Health Concerns
Injuries have plagued Harris and Barton, respectively, throughout the past two seasons, however, both would address Stevens’ second unit concerns. The Celtics need secondary scoring, it’s a weakness that desperately needs to be addressed this offseason but should Ainge trust that Harris and Barton will be healthy next season?
After suffering from an ankle injury in the regular season, Harris bounced back nicely in the playoffs. He and the Nuggets’ inspiring play erased not one but two 3-1 series deficits, including the Western Conference Semifinals best-of-7 against the Los Angeles Clippers, when Gary played an important role for the Nuggets.
He averaged 10.7 points, 2 steals in 31 minutes per game while shooting 50.7% from the floor, including 41.5% from behind the arc. Barton, who left the bubble in July for rehab, is recovering from a knee injury. He averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 58 regular-season games for Denver.
If Ainge adds two double-digit scoring wing players in exchange for Hayward and a late first-round pick; realistically, that’s probably as good as it’s going to get in this current offseason climate.