The Celtics are one of the teams most likely to make a trade before the earlier-than-usual NBA trade deadline on Thursday, Feb. 8 as they continue to have the top record in the Eastern Conference and are poised for a berth in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
The question for Danny Ainge right now is how much tinkering does this Celtics team need? Do they play this thing conservatively and hope a 75 percent Gordon Hayward is enough to help them through the playoffs, or do they go for broke now?
When Ainge is this close to a title, he usually doesn’t mess around – and that’s why if he thinks the Celtics are a slight upgrade away from legitimately being able to compete with Golden State (who remain the benchmark), he will not be afraid to make a blockbuster.
So with that said, would the Celtics look at trading for Clippers star forward Blake Griffin at the NBA trade deadline?
Not only are the Clippers expected to trade DeAndre Jordan in the next few weeks, they are also looking at trading away Griffin in order to start a complete re-boot of the franchise. According to Basketball Insiders, the Clippers proposed a Griffin swap with the Timberwolves – though Minnesota quickly shot it down when LA pushed for Karl-Anthony Towns.
In regards to a Griffin trade, the Clippers are targeting teams that are “one piece away” from title contention. That’s certainly the feeling when it comes to the Celtics right now, as even though they beat Golden State a couple months back - it’s hard to believe they’d be able to win four out of seven against them.
The Celtics have been rumored to have interest in Griffin (and not Jordan) multiple times over the years, most recently in free agency last summer. Adrian Wojnarowski even went so far to say that “Boston is really the danger [team] for Blake Griffin.”
ESPN also reported that the Celtics were interested in trading for Griffin at last year’s trade deadline.
Of course, many things have changed since the Celtics had interest in Griffin – most notably the addition of high-priced stars Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. The only way the Celtics could conceivably add Griffin money-wise would be to part with Al Horford. Horford is having a tremendous season, but Griffin scores seven points more per game than Horford and Griffin is a better defender. Griffin’s defense against the Warriors – specifically on Kevin Durant – sparked this headline last year, “Griffin’s defense is the key to beating Warriors’ Death Star lineup.”
In terms of the Clippers’ end of this deal, Horford makes a hair less than Griffin and he has two less years on his current deal. Los Angeles would surely ask Ainge for more in terms of draft capital (which the Celtics have). It would hinge only on how much of an upgrade Ainge thinks Griffin is over Horford. If it’s a Kyrie Irving – Isaiah Thomas sized difference, then we know the Celtics will pull the trigger.