As we saw with the Greg Monroe signing, the Celtics are going full-tilt in their quest for a championship this year. This means nothing should be ruled out when it comes to an upgrade.
The Celtics already have a tremendous defensive guard in Marcus Smart, but would they be willing to pull the trigger on a Smart trade if it meant being able to bring back old friend Avery Bradley?
Bradley is one of the more likely players to be dealt at the NBA Trade Deadline this week, as the Clippers are set to flip him for assets (Los Angeles acquired Bradley from Detroit last week in the Blake Griffin trade).
Oklahoma City is the most likely destination for Bradley, but as The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor points out – the Thunder may not have enough assets to land the 2-guard.
“Avery Bradley’s name keeps popping up as a top target for the Thunder, according to multiple league sources, and the Clippers have made the guard available after acquiring him in the Blake Griffin blockbuster. Bradley’s defense regressed this season in Detroit, but he’s been an elite perimeter defender in the playoffs, and has been one of the few players who can bother Stephen Curry and Chris Paul, the two point guards in between the Thunder and a trip to the Finals. Bradley’s ability as a cutter and spot-up shooter would also be a natural fit in OKC, either alongside their stars in the starting unit or in more of a featured role coming off screens with the reserves.
“The problem is it’s unclear whether the Thunder would have anywhere close to what it takes to acquire Bradley.”
The Celtics do, of course, have the assets and would likely be willing to relinquish their own 2018 first round draft pick (likely to be 28-30) and Smart. Oklahoma City cannot use its own first round draft pick in a trade due to the “Stepien Rule,” giving the Celtics a leg up there if they are interested in bringing back Bradley.
Bradley was initially traded by the Celtics last year because the C’s did not want to have to pay both Bradley and Isaiah Thomas in free agency this coming summer, and the Celtics were looking to clear out cap space to sign Gordon Hayward at the time. Of course, much has happened since then – most notably the trading away of Thomas for Kyrie Irving and the Hayward injury.
It would be mighty ironic if it was Bradley who filled the Hayward role in this year’s playoffs for the Celtics – as one of their top shooting threats from the wing.
Second year man Jaylen Brown took over Bradley’s starting role at the 2-guard spot this year, so one might think that Bradley would not want to back-up his former back-up. But Bradley has always been a pro, and the guess here is that he’d be thrilled to re-join Brad Stevens and the Celtics for a deep playoff run instead of watching his 2017-18 season fizzle out in LA.
If Bradley were to perform well this postseason, it could also enhance his value in free agency this summer.