Celtics

Trader Danny Due to Fix Mess He Created

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It is no secret that this season hasn’t gotten off to the start that the Boston Celtics wanted. At 19-17, Boston sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. While injuries can take the majority of the blame for the poor start, their on-court play still leaves a lot to be desired.

However, there is one “asset” that Celtics GM Danny Ainge holds that can fix this roster.

Boston currently owns the largest trade exception in NBA history after the departure of Gordon Hayward. The trade exception is worth $27.9 million, and can be split up into multiple transactions. This allows the Celtics to be able to trade for a player without having to match salaries to complete the trade.

Even though the start to the season hasn’t been ideal, there is still time for Ainge to fix the mess he has created.

Lack Of Depth

Even though the Celtics have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries, Ainge has admitted the current roster isn’t good enough. “Our roster obviously is not good. I mean, we are a 14-14 team. There’s no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. That’s who we are. This team, where we are, 14-14, if there’s somebody to blame, this is Danny Ainge to blame.”

Boston has had to rely on too many players who simply aren’t worthy of a rotation spot. Players like Semi Ojeleye, Javonte Green and Carsen Edwards have all seen time in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Grant Williams and free-agent addition Jeff Teague were hyped up coming into the season but haven’t lived up to expectations.

Most title contenders have a veteran bench with a couple developmental guys that aren’t expected to be relied heavily upon. The Celtics have a young bench, however, with every player being on their rookie deal besides Tristan Thompson and the aforementioned Teague. This is a problem, as young players are often inconsistent. Package that along with many of them not being very good and you have a problem.

It is clear Boston could use another rotation-caliber wing. Whether that be a guy like Harrison Barnes, or someone else, getting a wing to play in place of Ojeleye should be priority number one. All of the wings on the roster are better suited to be a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency play.

Additionally, while rookie Payton Pritchard has exceeded expectations, it wouldn’t hurt to look at a more established option at backup point guard. Oklahoma City’s George Hill could be an excellent addition to the squad. Unfortunately, he is still recovering from a thumb injury, so he wouldn’t be able to make an immediate impact.

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Own All Of Their First-Round Picks

Fortunately, for Ainge, Boston still owns all their first round picks through 2027. Few contending teams can say that as well, so it is unlikely Boston can be outbid during the trade deadline.

When trading with a selling team at the deadline, a first-round pick will generally get it done. A starting-caliber player won’t command a package of multiple firsts and young players like a star would. This puts Boston in prime position to grab an impact guy if Ainge chooses to do so.

Among playoff teams in the East, only the Pacers and Raptors own all of their first-round picks per RealGM. However, Indiana doesn’t seem like a player at the deadline after trading Victor Oladipo. Meanwhile, there has been rumors Toronto may be looking to sell key pieces such as Kyle Lowry. This makes it unlikely they will be big buyers at the deadline.

Inconsistency In The East

Luckily for Boston, no team in the Eastern Conference has been able to separate themselves from the pack. Currently, the Celtics sit just 5.0 games out of first place.

Each good team in the East has gone through their own rough patch. The first-place Sixers went just 7-6 in the month of February, coming back down to Earth after a hot start. Meanwhile, the Bucks recently went through a five-game losing streak. Additionally, Brooklyn’s inconsistency on defense will lead to rough stretches over the course of the season.

Trade Interest

With the March 25 trade deadline creeping up, it appears Ainge is starting to work the phones. According to Shams Charania, the Celtics have shown interest in a few players on lottery bound teams.

A few of the players highlighted were Jerami Grant, Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica and Nikola Vucevic. We can start with crossing off Grant right away as the Pistons should have no intention of moving their big free-agent signing. Not to mention he wants to be the main option on offense and would have to take a backseat in Boston.

However, Barnes and Bjelica are extremely realistic targets as the Kings are falling further and further out of playoff contention. Both would give Boston shooting and versatility at the wing spot, which has been sorely lacking this season. Meanwhile, they shouldn’t cost a ton to acquire, and Boston has the picks to make it happen.

Vucevic would be a big time addition to the Celtics and would be an instant upgrade at center. However, the two-time all-star will be expensive to acquire. They would also have to shed about $6.5 million in salary to get under the cap if they wish to acquire Vucevic as well. The package for him would likely require multiple young players and multiple first-round picks to get the deal done.

Bottom Line

Long story short, Boston isn’t as bad as they have looked lately. Marcus Smart will return to the lineup, freeing up the offense and pumping up the defense. He can’t be relied upon to fix every issue, however.

The clock is ticking for Ainge to make a move. Getting a wing needs to be his top priority, while monitoring the guard and big man market for an impact player won’t hurt.

And no, neither Ainge nor Brad Stevens is getting fired, no matter how much Celtics Twitter is currently begging for it. However, it’s now up to Ainge to fix this mess of a roster he has constructed, or else risk wasting insane efforts from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

Follow us on Twitter @CelticsLead for the latest Celtics news and insight. 

About Mason Urban

Sports writer for The Spectrum newspaper and contributor for The Lead Sports Media

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