The past few days have been nothing short of crazy for basketball fans. Trade and draft rumors were all over the place. One minute Paul George told the Pacers he wanted out. Next minute Jimmy Butler may be headed to Cleveland. Then Kristaps Porzingis was thrown around in trade talks. Analysts and journalists like myself were glued to their phones waiting to see what the latest development was. The offseason is so much better than the regular seasons sometimes I swear.
In almost every trade rumor, the Celtics weren’t too far behind. The Celtics completed their trade with the 76ers and received the third overall pick and a later first round pick with protections on it (I would explain but it’s too complicated to explain). Danny Ainge said the Celtics will still get a player they want while getting more assets to add to his treasure chest of draft picks. By making this trade, Boston opened its doors to even more trade possibilities than they had when they had the first pick. The question is what will Boston do with these picks now. They now have two potential top picks in next year’s loaded draft class, while still having a top pick this year. Do they trade these picks for a superstar that Boston fans have been waiting to get for years, or will we keep these picks and continue to draft our future? From what I’ve been hearing as far as trade rumors go, Boston is in win-now mode.
We’ve all heard about the Cavaliers’ GM David Griffin not returning to Cleveland, right? Well, LeBron wasn’t consulted before this move was made. That’s a no-no right there. Amidst trade rumors, firings, and rumors of LeBron leaving Cleveland once again when he’s a free agent, Cavs’ fans should be more than a little nervous about what direction this team is going in. Cleveland may break up their big three so they can form another with the likes of Jimmy Butler or Paul George. Jimmy Butler was reportedly told by Cavaliers’ players to stay away from Cleveland because of everything going on in the organization currently. What if a team that adds one of those two superstars still goes south? Kevin Love would be out of the picture. Paul George might bolt to LA like everybody predicts he will. Jimmy Butler would be under contract still, but if it didn’t work out the first time, why would it work a second time? On top of all these trade rumors, Kyrie may ask to get traded if LeBron goes elsewhere. In that case, the city of Cleveland may be up in flames like it was when LeBron left for Miami years ago.
And guess who’s sitting in his comfy lounge chair, sipping his cup of coffee with a huge grin on his face? None other than our own, Danny Ainge. Danny Ainge is well aware of all that is going on around the league, and the collapse of Cleveland may give him a bigger reason to build for now and not necessarily for the future. Danny Ainge has three options. One: stand pat and draft somebody at three and hope to get Gordon Hayward in free agency. You then keep next years picks as well and see what happens next offseason. Two: draft somebody at three, trade for a superstar, and work out the salaries to sign Gordon Hayward. Three: go all out and trade the picks for superstars, while still clearing enough cap to sign Gordon Hayward. Notice how in every option I mentioned attempting to sign Gordon Hayward? That’s because he should be in the Celtics’ plans no matter what they do the next few days or weeks. In my own personal opinion, I think option number two would be the best option for the Celtics, and let me explain to you why.
With pick number three, the Boston Celtics select Jayson Tatum. Jayson Tatum will come in and immediately help Boston with his scoring abilities. Arguably the best offensive player in the draft, Tatum reminds me a lot of Paul Pierce. He’s more athletic than Pierce was, but Tatum can create his own shot, has a high basketball IQ, and has the size to defend any position 1-4. By keeping this pick, the Celtics can still build for the future while still having an insane amount of picks to deal. Next Danny Ainge pulls the trigger on a deal for a superstar. Whether that superstar would be Jimmy Butler or Paul George (hoping they can convince him to resign), it doesn’t matter. Both are similar players and will help Isaiah with scoring and will bring much-needed size and star-power to Boston.
Next, you clear up some cap to sign Gordon Hayward or even Blake Griffin. But in this case, we’re going to go with Gordon Hayward. Not bad right? It sounds complicated, but Danny Ainge loves complicated and will somehow make everything fall into place. The starting lineup would then be Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, *insert superstar here*, Gordon Hayward (fingers crossed), and Al Horford. Off the bench, you’d have Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Ante Zizic, and Guerschon Yabusele. That’s not a bad team if you ask me. With that lineup, not only can Boston be the number one seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year, but maybe they can take down Cleveland, especially if things continue to fall apart for them this offseason and beyond. Then on top of that Boston still has draft picks for next year, considering Danny doesn’t trade away both of them. The future is still bright in Boston, plus they’re in a position to make a run at the championship.
Now let’s back peddle here and say more than half of that doesn’t happen. Instead of drafting somebody and making a trade for Butler or George, Boston instead trades for Kristaps Porzingis. Package the third pick, a pick next year, Jae Crowder, and Terry Rozier and call it a day. No other team can top any offer we throw New York’s way. We have the most assets and the most flexibility to make this trade happen. By making this trade, signing Gordon Hayward becomes ten times easier. Kristaps is still on his rookie contract and we’d trade away Crowder and another player’s contract. You keep your core, trade for your superstar, and still have a top pick next year. Did I mention that Porzingis is only 21? We’re trading our picks for a player that is almost as young as players in this year’s draft and is easy to build around with Jaylen Brown and company in the future. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.
Out of all the trade rumors that have been floating around social media, the most realistic to me would be the ones for Kristaps, Butler, or Paul George. Paul George would be the easiest to get, but it’s the risk of him leaving in free agency that scares teams to trade away their valuable assets. I’d be content with trades for Butler or Porzingis. I’d be okay with a Butler trade because he adds much-needed offense to the team and Danny Ainge most likely wouldn’t have to trade the third pick, since the Celtics reportedly declined the Bulls’ offer of Butler for the 3rd pick straight up. But for Porzingis, I’d be willing to trade away the third pick. I’d try my hardest to keep it if I was Danny, but if the Knicks are only going to talk if that pick is available, then I’d make the pick available.
At the end of the day half these rumors turn out to be BS, but it sure is fun to talk about. Even though trade talks will fall apart like they do every year, this year may be different than previous years for Boston. They have the assets to make a trade for a superstar while having enough cap space to sign another. The only trade rumors I’d look into at this point are for Jimmy Butler or Porzingis. Paul George maybe, but that’d only happen if Danny Ainge is more than confident he’d resign with Boston. Either way, I think something will happen. It’s our time and Danny is locked and loaded to make those fireworks he’s been promising us for the past couple years go off.