With the NBA trade deadline arriving later this month, rumors are kicking into high gear as NBA teams attempt to make roster improvements ahead of potential postseason berths. One of the teams that is actively trying to acquire more talent for their team is the Boston Celtics. The team added former Atlanta Hawks All-Star Al Horford during the offseason, and is currently among the top teams in the Eastern Conference. However, they’re still not quite where they want to be, as the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers are above them. Here’s a look at the latest NBA trade rumors involving the Celtics ahead of the February deadline.
Of all the teams in the NBA, the Boston Celtics are currently among those with a good bit of assets to work with when it comes to making deals happen. As NESN reported in their recent mock draft report, the team has the Brooklyn Nets’ draft pick for the 2017 NBA Draft, which based on the current season, is going to be very high up in the selection order. That pick makes for a valuable piece to use in a potential trade package.
The Celtics also have talented young players such as Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier, as well as the “team-friendly” contracts of Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and others. Add to the mix that Boston also has expiring contracts, and they have plenty to work with. A few players who may be among their top targets before February 23 include Nikola Vucevic, Serge Ibaka, and Jimmy Butler.
The CSNNE website recently reported that the Celtics have been talking to the Orlando Magic about 7-footer Nikola Vucevic. For the current season, the 26-year-old is averaging 14 points and 9.8 rebounds a game, which leads the team. He’s also dishing out nearly three assists per contest, while turning away at least one shot per game. Vucevic would be helpful to a Celtics team looking to improve upon their rebounding, defense, and scoring, but there may be other options for Boston.
While Vucevic is an interesting potential acquisition, Sportsrageous believes the Celtics would be better off landing Serge Ibaka, if possible. The NBA big has shown his presence as a member of both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic. Ibaka is not only a solid inside presence on the defensive end, but is also a threat to knock down threes. Putting Ibaka in the front court along with Al Horford would make the Celtics even stronger in their interior, and give them a good inside-outside situation with All-Star Isaiah Thomas at the point guard position.
While both of these players may sound enticing to fans of the franchise, the NBA rumors swirling around Chicago Bulls’ star Jimmy Butler are more intriguing. The Bulls could be looking to rebuild once again if they feel that the tandem of Dwyane Wade and Butler isn’t getting the results they want, even as their squad seems destined for a postseason appearance. The team chemistry has certainly been an issue in recent weeks with guard Rajon Rondo voicing his concerns about Chitown. Jimmy Butler seems to be their franchise player, but under the right circumstances, the Bulls might decide to grab some new talent including the No. 1 pick from Boston.
Helping to add to the speculation that Butler could move to Boston were recent comments from ESPN‘s Nick Friedell on The Lowe Post podcast.
“There is a split in the Bulls’ front office as to whether they want to build around Jimmy or not. … The team that I continue to hear has the pieces that the Bulls want is Boston. … I’ve never been more convinced that if they got the right pieces, let’s say it’s not Boston but it’s another team, if they got the right pieces back, I think they’d move Jimmy today. I think they realize that this team just isn’t good enough.”
For the Celtics, it would sort of give them a new “Big Three” of All-Star players. Isaiah Thomas, Jimmy Butler, and Al Horford would certainly be interesting to watch as they contend with the likes of Toronto and Cleveland. On nights when Thomas is off, Butler might step up, and vice versa. The two players currently combine for over 50 points a game, and Thomas has been particularly brilliant down the stretch.
Check out some of the best plays from Isaiah Thomas' monster January ☘️☘️☘️ pic.twitter.com/W0vcDQsTru
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 2, 2017
Butler is currently the No. 12 player in the league in scoring, as he’s hitting 24.6 points a night. Putting him in Boston pairs him up with the current No. 2 scorer, as Isaiah Thomas is averaging nearly 30 points per game. Thomas has become dominant towards the close of games this season, averaging 10.5 in just the fourth quarter. Bringing in Butler just makes things that much tougher on opposing defenses.
If the Celtics find a way to present the right package of assets to Chicago, and the Bulls decide to move on from having Butler as their key star, Boston could quickly be elevated to a contender for the Eastern Conference crown. It seems the Celtics are willing and able, but will the Bulls pull the trigger on a deal to give up one of the league’s top 15 All-Star players? Time may tell, but the NBA trade deadline is less than three weeks away.
[Featured Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]