Since the departure of Al Horford in the 2019 NBA free agency, rumors are circulating that the Boston Celtics are active on the trade market, searching for a big man who could help them boost their performance on the defensive end of the floor. Though they are undeniably in need of a big man who could defend the likes of Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors, and Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks, a source who spoke to Brian Windhorst of ESPN revealed that the Celtics don’t have any plan of using their core players, including Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart, in any deal.
“The reality is, the Celtics don’t have easy options even if they were determined to upgrade in the middle. While one could have some fun with the Trade Machine, Boston has made it clear to anyone who has asked that their core players are absolutely not available. That includes, sources said, both Hayward and Smart, players who have been floated as possible trade chips in the past. Their best assets are as many as three first-round picks in the 2020 draft, including a valuable Memphis pick that is top-6 protected in 2020 and unprotected after that.”
Making their core players untouchable via trade is definitely a wise move for the Celtics. Though trading one of Smart, Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker would solve their major problem in their frontcourt, it could also greatly affect their performance on both ends of the floor. The Celtics may be performing well even after losing Hayward to a hand injury, but the All-Star forward also played a major role in the team’s strong start in the 2019-20 NBA season.
Before going down with an injury, Hayward has been posting incredible numbers and starting to live up to expectations from the massive contract he signed in the summer of 2017. In eight games he played this season, Hayward is averaging 18.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting 55.5 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Though Walker, Tatum, Brown, Hayward, and Smart aren’t available via trade, the Celtics still have a plethora of trade assets, including their a war chest of future draft picks. However, engaging in a blockbuster deal before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline would still be a challenge, especially knowing that outside of their core group, they only have two players who are earning more than $4 million, Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis, on their roster.
However, if the Celtics fail to find an answer for Embiid, Gasol, and Lopez, they could just make it harder for opposing teams in other ways. As Windhorst noted, Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens has a core belief that if they couldn’t handle an opposing player straight up, they would just need to figure out how to change the nature of the matchup.