After sending Gordon Hayward to the Charlotte Hornets this offseason in a sign-and-trade, the Celtics have a $28.5 million traded player exception to use before next season. With the trade deadline looming on March 25th, let’s explore three Celtics trade targets.
Boston currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 19-18 record. On the bright side, the Celtics have only played one full game with their top four players: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart. Regardless, this team has struggled all season long, so making a trade at the deadline will be a good move.
One of the main questions General Manager Danny Ainge has to answer before making a trade is: What type of player do the Celtics need?
What type of player do the Celtics need?
The past several seasons, Boston has ranked very high in both defensive and offensive rating. However, this season they rank near the middle of the pack in both, proving that a strong defensive player is needed most. Luckily, the return of Smart from a calf injury should also help improve their defensive rating. Additionally, the Celtics have struggled finding ways to score outside of their two All-Stars.
Next, Ainge must determine the best position to target, keeping in mind that the Celtics have a wide variety of guards and centers. The type of player that would help the Celtics significantly is a playmaking forward who can defend and knock down shots. While this may seem far-fetched, there are several players that fit this criteria who are available for trades.
Celtics Trade Targets
Now that we have covered the type of player needed, let’s examine three players the Celtics could target who would help take them to the next level.
Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
In Grant’s first season with Detroit, he has put up career numbers, averaging 23.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. If not for the Pistons bad record, Grant would have likely been selected to the All-Star roster and currently is the favorite to win Most Improved Player.
Grant, who was signed to a three-year, $60 million contract last offseason would fit perfectly into the Celtics’ traded player exception. He is an excellent scorer at the small/power forward position and has improved his playmaking abilities.
Detroit currently holds the second worst record in the league, so trading Grant for picks and some young players could help them launch a rebuild. Conveniently, Boston reportedly offered the Pistons “multiple first round picks” for Grant, so it is a strong possibility we see him in green and white after the trade deadline.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
Last month the Celtics were in trade talks with Sacramento about Barnes, but due to the Kings good record at the time, the trade fell through. Now, with a 15-23 record and the hopes of a playoff berth gone, the Kings have expressed interest in trading Barnes once again.
Barnes, who is playing in his tenth NBA season, is averaging 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists on 50 percent shooting from the floor. Barnes is also a very good defender and would give the Celtics a veteran presence in the locker room.
Barnes is in the second year of his four-year, $85 million contract and is set to make around $22 million this season. This works with Boston’s TPE and would give them a solid defender and playmaker at the forward position.
DeMar DeRozan, San Antonio Spurs
This season, DeRozan is set to make around $27 million in the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2021. In his third season with the Spurs, DeRozan is averaging 20.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists per game.
While trading for DeRozan would be a bit more complicated for Boston due to his expiring contract, he is the exact type of player the Celtics need. DeRozan is one of the best mid-range scorers in the game, a solid defender, and dishing out a career number of assists per game this season.
Despite having a 19-15 record and holding the seventh seed in the Western Conference, the Spurs would benefit from trading DeRozan because they would get some value before he leaves in free agency next season. A trade for DeRozan is less likely to happen than one for Grant or Barnes, but it’s still possible and would give the Celtics one of the best starting lineups in the league.