An eagle-eye view of Boston's offseason options & early trade rumors

Boston Celtics fans, prepare yourself for a lot of articles on potential trade proposals in the coming weeks.

With the number one pick waiting for Danny Ainge and company in the 2017 NBA Draft to use or move it after a season which saw the overachieving young squad secure the number one seed and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a stacked roster of young talent soon to command more than Wyc Grousbeck and his partners are likely to want to pay luxury tax on, Boston is certain to be at the top of every analyst's mind when trying to deduce what major offseason moves might be about to go down. Let's take a look at some of the more radical possibilities being thrown around, and how they might fit into Boston's plans.

There's well-known cap concerns with the current roster's guaranteed 2017-18 money likely coming in just under tier-two max contract space, which will likely require moving one or more of Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier while cutting ties with all free agents, restricted or otherwise. There's also the impending free agency of players like Isaiah Thomas, Bradley and Smart to consider whether extensions should be offered, and for how much and long, depending on judgments on whether current players can have players added for near-term contention without sacrificing the longer-term goals Danny and Wyc have been laying the groundwork for.

So, with all this in mind any realistic deals are going to have to at minimum function in such a way as to not upset the long-term plans, and hopefully check off at least one of the near-term cap concern issues (creating max space and/or solving extension dilemmas). So, before we dive into any trade proposal ideas, let's take a very general look at potential free agent targets. It's pretty widely accepted that Gordon Hayward is the preferred target for the club, but he's not the only option who might be convinced to sign with the team in a way that makes sense. Who, then, else might be on Boston's radar?


Gordon Hayward: As noted, the primary focus due to scoring and defensive abilities; he makes for a natural fit for a roster in need of both offensive diversity and a boost to the starting lineup's defense so long as Isaiah is with the club. After missing All-NBA honors this season, the amount of money and years his Utah Jazz can offer figures to be roughly $180 million over five seasons, compared to about $133 million over four. $47 million is indeed a lot of money, but most of that can be recouped in endorsements given the vast gulf in the size of respective media markets (Boston is typically ranked in or just outside the US top ten media markets, and Salt Lake City in the bottom third of major markets, depending on categorization).

Blake Griffin: Another name to keep an eye on, he may be the most likely back-up option should the Cs whiff on Hayward. Durability issues suggest this is actually a bigger reach than Hayward, who also has ties to coach Brad Stevens via Butler, given Boston will probably be unwilling to move players to make space for him, nor want to commit to a full four-year max offer given his nagging-if-unrelated injuries. However, if Blake is enticed by Boston's performance this season, something like an ascending contract on a two- or three-plus-one team option with bonuses for games played could get the deal done.

Paul Millsap: Here we have similar concerns to Griffin, but for age and fit more so than health. While the supporting cast will undoubtedly be better than the Atlanta Hawks teams which featured a Millsap-Horford tandem in recent years, it has not proven very effective against the East's only remaining obstacle to the finals for the Celts (the Cleveland Cavaliers), and with each season of his new deal bringing more years into the equation, this deal seems unlikely unless it's an even bigger bargain than what it might take to sign Griffin.

Danilo Galinari: Picture Hayward as a negative defender with a lower degree of offensive versatility. He could work as a short-years one-plus-one max deal just to kick the can down the road, but this is maybe the least likely option given free agency concerns looming in the coming two seasons which would eat up all the cap space after next season - unless, of course, a deal gets made to solve that problem.

There's some other potential options out there of course, but issues of fit or plausibility suggest they won't be coming to the Celts any time soon. Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant could leave the Golden State Warriors, but that seems as unlikely as ever given the beatdown they just gave the Cavs, and other top-tier free agents just don't make sense (Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, and Jrue Holiday don't fit age and positional needs, and Boston could have brought Serge Ibaka on board at the deadline, yet chose not to). So, with that all to keep in mind, what are some of the more radical offseason moves people have been proposing?


Michael Pina of Vice Sports thinks the Celts might just be able to wrest Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, and he's not alone in that perspective, either. Davis is one of the few talents out there skilled and young enough to throw the kitchen sink at, given the Pels inability to field a squad worthy of such a talent. New Orleans ownership has a lot of tough decisions to make, and if they cannot resign Jrue Holiday, may not perform well enough to retain recently-traded-for perennial Boston trade rumor  DeMarcus Cousins after his deal ends next season.

Should that go down, an offer like Pina's (the 2017 and 18 Brooklyn picks, Boston's own 2018 pick, and a Los Angeles Lakers 2018 first acquired by sending Bradley to the Philadelphia 76ers) is not outside the realm of possible, though it could require simplifying to make it more likely to take shape, say Bradley, Tyler Zeller, Terry Rozier and Brooklyn picks plus another first. This would allow Boston to resign Kelly Olynyk and extend Thomas to contend immediately while still leaving some solid assets to add talent each year for several seasons into the future.


All it took was a tweet from C.J. McCollum to revive the (we're almost certain) non-substantive rumor ex-Celtic Brian Scalabrine gave wings to earlier this season. We're talking the idea of Klay Thompson getting moved to the Celtics, for those of you who missed either iteration of Klay becoming an ex-Warrior soon. There's (rightfully) been less ink spilled in the newer iteration of this deal, but Thompson does only have two more years on a relatively affordable deal left, so it's not out of the question that a package might be put together that appeals to both clubs.

Some suggestions (say, Bradley, Jae Crowder and the 2018 Brooklyn pick) are solid value for both clubs in a vacuum, do not account for Bradley also needing a raise to stick with the team, and could thus risk seeing a major portion of the deal walk in just one season. A deal with the Boston 2018 and Memphis 2019 first round picks plus Crowder and Marcus Smart as the centerpiece and Tyler Zeller thrown in for salary match would give the Warriors more tools to keep their roster together without having to force Durant or Curry to take a paycut and/or overpay an aging Andre Iguodala without sacrificing Boston's longer-term plans.


It wouldn't feel right to talk trades and the Celtics without kicking the tires on some oldie-but-goody trade rumors, at least one of which may be slightly overripe: Jimmy Butler and Paul George. The former is still a possibility, but depends heavily on internal issues with management's assessment of the near-future of the Chicago Bulls, itself dependent on whether an aging Dwyane Wade opts in to a hefty chunk of the team's potential available cap space for the upcoming season. The latter might just have to run its course without an agreement to extend being included, given George is on record to want a move to Los Angeles should the Indiana Pacers prove unable to surround him with a competitive roster.

This makes both potential targets even more of a long shot than previously - but also lowers their market value to a range likely more palatable to Boston's front office. It's very likely Larry Bird stepping down as GM for the Pacers is to open up the possibility of a George deal, though the return is going to be considerably less with no extension in place. Something like Bradley and Zeller plus a non-lottery first would be reasonable on Boston's end, but in this scenario, Indy's management ought to try their luck with whatever they can muster before George (almost certainly) walks at the end of the 2017-18 season.

The new CBA allows for the inclusion of an extension as part of terms, so if it turns out that the reporting concerning L.A. was mostly a pressure tactic, attaching one of the Brooklyn picks and a pair of any other firsts is not out of the question to the core of Bradley and Zeller. This is probably similar to what would be expected by Chicago for such a deal with Butler sans extension, though iterations substituting Thomas or Crowder for Bradley or Zeller might appeal to a team with minimal depth at the one and three.


There are scenarios, fueled by Ainge doing due diligence with players like Jonathon Isaac, that could see Boston pull a New England Patriots move and deal back or even out of this year's draft for a combination of later and/or future picks and/or players. This is unlikely, but not impossible, and while positively fascinating, the potential combinations allowed under the Stepien and Seven-Year Rules are nearly literally endless, so I'll give you readers a list of more likely candidates to concoct scenarios with, should you be so inclined.

The Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks are all rebuilding and reportedly open to moving players, assets, or both to accelerate their rebuilding efforts in the near term. Without writing a book, if such a move is going to go down, it's almost certainly going to be with one of these teams. Feel free to workshop potential deals in the comment section below; any especially juicy and plausible suggestions might just find their way onto the next episode of the CelticsLife Podcast.

...and finally, if we somehow see yet another offseason without the long-anticipated fireworks,


As much as I'd rather not think about it, the odds of not landing Hayward or any other targets listed above is actually pretty high. In this scenario, we'd likely run most of the players from last season back and bring on some new veteran faces to fill in for guys like Amir Johnson and Zeller, who, because of age or the game's evolution, are increasingly unhelpful players through no fault of their own. But those veterans could be pretty interesting options in the right scenario, players Boston might otherwise eschew for a variety of reasons.

Carmelo Anthony could probably be had for a non-lottery first, Zeller, perhaps, and maybe a few other minor assets like Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson. Longtime walking Boston trade rumor Cousins might be had with the addition of a second first-round pick or a player like Bradley. Perhaps Dirk Nowitzki wants one more run deep into the playoffs, or one of many teams that overspent in the flush days of the T.V. money cap spike will decide they need to unload a good player cheaply after the cap shrink hangover really starts to sting. There's so many paths open in even this "worst" of scenarios that we've got PLENTY to chew on over the usually-boring doldrums of summer.

A fan could get used to this sort of thing.

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