It would take gutting the non-superstar portion of their roster, but would the Celtics still be interested in a trade for Carmelo Anthony after acquiring Gordon Hayward?
The Celtics entered Tier 2 of the NBA hierarchy this week, joining the Cavaliers and the Spurs. But if they truly want to compete with Golden State, then they're realistically one more star player away.
Carmelo's name is mud in the NBA right now, particularly among Celtics fans. However, Carmelo as the third or fourth option on a team (like he was during the Olympics) would absolutely elevate the Celtics as a team.
The problem, of course, with doing this is the price tag. The C's are already cash strapped and will likely make a trade today just so that they can open up some room to sign Hayward to the max. The Celtics were absolutely burned by the NBA cap projection lowering to $99 million, so a Carmelo trade isn't as easy as it once was. That said, Wyc Grousbeck has maintained time and time again that he's willing to pay a significant luxury tax.
The Celtics would effectively have to gut their roster and even give up Jayson Tatum to make this thing work. It won't be as easy as dumping Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and a future pick on the Knicks anymore.
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Celtics fans would go all Tanner Ainge on Danny if he were to give up Tatum in a trade for Carmelo (funny how quickly C's fans have fallen in love with Tatum), but at some point the Celtics are going to have to give up one of their top assets to get into Golden State territory. That should be the goal, first and foremost.
The future would still be bright if the Celtics traded away Tatum. They wouldn't have to give up any future picks to the Knicks if they gave up the Duke product with a couple vets to make money work.
How would this hypothetical Celtics rotation look:
C Al Horford
F Gordon Hayward
F Carmelo Anthony
G Jaylen Brown
G Isaiah Thomas
Critics will immediately scream, "What about rebounding?!," "They don't have a true center?" Well, neither did the Warriors last year. The NBA is now a league where forwards and guards are expected to rebound and Hayward and Anthony have been very good on the glass over the years. Carmelo averaged 7.7 boards per game two seasons ago with the Knicks and Hayward has consistently averaged over five rebounds per game the past few years in Utah.
Is it worth it?
Carmelo has been linked to the Celtics seemingly forever. I can remember Celtics radio play by play man Sean Grande believing Carmelo would be a perfect fit in Boston three years ago, and there was buzz as recently as May that a Carmelo to Boston trade was on the table.
Grande in 2014: "If Carmelo played the second half of his career in Boston, if he became the next Celtics superstar, the post-New Big Three cornerstone? He'd have his number hanging at the Garden one day right next to Paul (Pierce's). He's that good. And I believe (minority opinion alert), he's ready to win."
The Knicks would obviously do cartwheels if they were able to get their hands on Tatum in a Carmelo deal as they were thinking of buying him out just last week. Celtics fans would initially hate the deal, but it's important to remember that Carmelo has always been forced to be a go-to guy in his previous NBA stops. It's believed by many that if he ever gets the chance to just play and not have the burden of being the "leader," that he'll be dominant.
"Melo's a good friend of mine, one of the best players I ever played with, but he's not the guy who's going to stand up in the locker room and give this rah-rah speech and get the team to rally," said former teammate Chauncey Billups to the NY Post. "That's not who he is … Carmelo will lead by example. He's going to come to work and he's playing to win every night. There's no question about that, that's who he is. He's a great player, he wants to win."