With Danny Ainge at the helm, the Celtics are always at the top of the list when it comes to NBA trade rumors and the big names that will pop up this season are big dudes in Anthony Davis and Jahlil Okafor.
It’s no secret that the Celtics are weak up front, with Al Horford as the only “big man” who other teams need to game plan for. Horford is, of course, a modern-era big as he drifts away from the basket and isn’t exactly Dennis Rodman on the glass. Horford did show some rebounding clout in the playoffs last year (he averaged 8.5 boards per game in the Chicago series), but he in no way will be counted on to be a force on the glass by the Celtics in the 2017-18 NBA season.
So if the Celtics do pull off a trade during the 2017-18 NBA season, expect it to come in the form of a big. Even if that big isn’t a textbook rebounding powerhouse, any body over 6-foot-10 will be a target for the C’s.
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The perfect solution to solve the Celtics’ rebounding woes – and more importantly to propel them into Golden State’s superstar collection atmosphere – is to target Pelicans big man Anthony Davis.
We’ve been all over the Davis rumors for months – going back to NBA Draft Lottery time when Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman casually tossed Davis’ name out as a player the Celtics could potentially target as the the final major piece of a NBA championship puzzle.
Of course, much has changed in Celtics land since that time, namely an entire remake of a roster that made it to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
But Davis as the centerpiece of a Big 3 in Boston remains as alluring an idea as it did four months ago. Davis would perfectly complement Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, with Irving running the point and Hayward sweeping back and forth on the baseline.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe mentioned a few weeks back that the Celtics’ acquisition of Irving could make the Davis to the Celtics idea a more realistic proposition. Many thought a few months back that the Celtics potentially getting Davis would only be possible if they surrendered the coveted 2018 Brooklyn pick in a trade. But Lowe believes they still could offer New Orleans one of the best packages in the NBA. Here is what Lowe wrote on Aug. 30:
“Boston still may have the most trade equity in the league: two recent top 3 picks, a potential top 5 pick from the Lakers or Kings, and the 2019 picks from the Clippers and Grizzlies. (That Memphis picks, just top eight protected in 2019 and top-six protected the next year, is really spicy.) Who can compete with that? The Sixers could, but they should chase a playoff spot this season, potentially devaluing their own picks. The Suns could, but they’re so far away that packaging a ton of future assets for one superstar doesn’t make as much sense as it does for Philly or Boston.
“If Anthony Davis becomes available – and the Celtics’ eyes are very much trained on him – Boston could throw together a package more compelling than just about anyone else’s. Irving would be an indirect part of that package. The NBA’s superstar class respects his ballsy showman’s game. (Ainge has long liked Irving more than most of his peers for some of the same reasons, sources say.) Beyond Davis, it’s hard to pinpoint the next star players who might become available at Irving’s age and merit a motherlode offer.”
The Pelicans obviously aren’t going to give up on their franchise player (and easily a top 10 player in the NBA) at any point before 2018. New Orleans wants to at least see if it has something with DeMarcus Cousins and Davis before it even entertains trading one or both of their young superstars. With Cousins’ contract up after this season, it is much more likely that the Pelicans trade Cousins than Davis.
But it things go south (say, Cousins and Davis aren’t getting along – not a stretch considering Cousins’ past) and the Pelicans are buried in the Western Conference standings by, say, Martin Luther King Jr Day – expect the rumors to fly. The Pelicans could get one of the best rebuild packages in league history if they were to trade both Cousins and Davis.
What would it take?
As Lowe mentioned above, the Celtics have two players on their roster who were drafted in the top three in back-to-back NBA Drafts in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The Celtics would absolutely need to part with one of those two, and likely both – to get the Pelicans to trade the 24-year-old Davis. They would also need to give up all of the picks mentioned above and – to make the money work – Al Horford as well.
That is an absurdly rich haul, but given what the Celtics gave up for Irving (their best player and a potential top overall pick) – that’s what they would be looking at in a trade for Davis.
Something more realistic?
The Jahlil Okafor – Celtics NBA trade rumors have been popping up again recently – the Boston Globe touched on them last week - but this one still makes little sense for the Celtics. Not only is Okafor an awful rebounder for his size, and not only does he go against the Celtics’ new age, position-less style of basketball, the Celtics would need to give up an asset (likely one of the picks Lowe mentioned) in order to land Okafor.
The Celtics need to hold on to every asset they have if they want to land that final big piece of the puzzle. As we saw this past NBA offseason, situations involving star players can change quickly – and if a player with the talent of Davis is eventually available, Ainge and the Celtics will be at the front of the line.