Boston Celtics trade rumors have revolved around acquiring DeMarcus Cousins for a number of years now. Celtics team president Danny Ainge had always appeared to be waiting for the right deal, making overtures to the Sacramento Kings at regular intervals about his availability. A recent report by ESPN again reminded fans that the Celtics also tried (and failed) to sign free agent Kevin Durant during the NBA offseason. It didn’t go well, and the team “settled” on signing Al Horford to a long-term deal.
It may now be time to move on from Cousins and for the Celtics to try making smaller deals to bring in strong role players for the roster. In the updated NBA standings, the Celtics reside in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 16-12 record. The Celtics trail the Toronto Raptors by four games in the Atlantic Division and appear good enough to secure a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. As currently constructed, though, it doesn’t appear that the Celtics could knock off the Raptors or Cleveland Cavaliers in a seven-game series.
Most Boston Celtics trade rumors point out how many assets that Danny Ainge has to work with. A lot of that involves future draft picks, many of which could be used to sweeten a deal with the Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers. One primary asset is the 2017 first-round pick of the Brooklyn Nets. That could be a top three pick, especially with how badly the Nets have opened the current NBA season (7-20).
The Celtics also control three second-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft that belong to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers, and Cleveland Cavaliers. In the 2018 NBA Draft, the team has two first-round picks, beginning with yet another top selection from the Nets and then the Celtics’ own first-rounder. The embarrassment of riches continues with potentially three first-round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. Those picks would be from the Celtics, Clippers, and Memphis Grizzlies. A report by NBADraft.net breaks down all those intangibles.
This all puts Ainge in a tricky situation, in which he could still continue to play the long-game when it comes to competing in the East. Despite the numerous Boston Celtics trade rumors about acquiring players like DeMarcus Cousins or Russell Westbrook, Ainge may still be looking toward the 2017 NBA Draft when it comes to building his team. That pick from the Brooklyn Nets is projected to yield an elite college talent, meaning the Celtics could soon have Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, or De’Aaron Fox on the roster.
The next draft is considered to be very guard-heavy, which would also be a huge thing for the Philadelphia 76ers. The center-heavy team has the worst record in the NBA, nearly guaranteeing a top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. If the team had the opportunity to add a second lottery selection to the fold (from the Celtics), it could mean two elite guards from college basketball getting added to the roster. Teaming up those two guards with a core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jahlil Okafor could actually make the 76ers a playoff team again.
So, what should the Celtics do if the goal is to immediately improve the team? Create a three-team trade scenario where the team acquires small forward Rudy Gay from the Sacramento Kings and Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers. Team them up with Al Horford, Avery Bradley, and Isaiah Thomas. Putting Jae Crowder on the bench would also lengthen the second-unit, making the Celtics immediately more competitive against the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
If Danny Ainge is truly playing the slow game, though, these trades make less sense. The franchise could still offer a deal with a future first-round pick to the 76ers for Noel and then offer him a new contract as a restricted free agent. The Celtics could then select an elite guard in the 2017 NBA Draft to become competitive for the 2018 NBA Playoffs. Boston Celtics trade rumors about acquiring a “big fish” like DeMarcus Cousins haven’t yielded any results yet, but maybe Ainge has a secret plan that will only be revealed at a later date.
[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]