With the NBA Finals currently ongoing, trade rumors regarding potential draft day transactions are beginning to swirl in earnest. One such rumor suggests that the Boston Celtics are planning to shore up their weakness at center by trading up for University of Texas center Mo Bamba.
Citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, the Sporting News wrote that the Celtics are interested in Bamba, and had gone as far as interviewing him two weeks ago at the Chicago pre-draft combine. As a college freshman, the 6-foot-11, 225-pound Bamba averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game for Texas, according to Sports Reference. The Sporting News added that he is projected to be the “most [NBA-ready] rim protector” in the 2018 NBA Draft, thanks to his impressive 7-foot-10 wingspan.
As the Boston Celtics will be drafting 27th overall this year, the challenge, according to the Sporting News, would be trading up to the top six or so, where Mo Bamba is expected to be selected. With Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton and Slovenia’s Luka Doncic shaping up as likely top two draft picks, Bamba is projected to go as high as third-overall to the Atlanta Hawks, or as low as sixth to the Orlando Magic. The Vancouver Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks, who are picking fourth and fifth respectively, are reportedly open to offers for those picks, and the Celtics, with their “multiple assets,” could theoretically swing a deal with either one of those teams.
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) May 30, 2018
Given how well rookie forward Jayson Tatum played in the regular season, and how he turned things up in the playoffs with a team-leading 18.5 points per game, the third-overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft is almost sure to stay in Boston, the Sporting News speculated. And while not a trade rumor, per se, the publication hinted that things are “less certain” with guard/forward Jaylen Brown and point guard Terry Rozier, the latter of whom averaged 16.5 points, 5.7 assists, and 5.3 rebounds in the playoffs while filling in for the injured Kyrie Irving.
As Brown and Rozier are expected to see less playing time when Irving and small forward Gordon Hayward, who missed all but the first five minutes of the 2017-18 season due to injury, return, that could mean a trade featuring one or both of them is possible, despite their fan favorite status.
According to the Sporting News, Brown would be the more desirable of the two in a theoretical trade-up for Mo Bamba, as the Grizzlies and the Mavericks already have Mike Conley and Dennis Smith, Jr., respectively, as their starting point guards. With the Celtics strong at all positions except center, this could also mean Boston gives up this year’s 27th overall pick, and at least one potentially high selection in the 2019 draft, based on the publication’s proposed scenario.