Despite losing several core players, including Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, last summer, the Boston Celtics have managed to surpass expectations this season. As of now, the Celtics have won seven of their last 10 games and are sitting in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 23-8 record. However, despite their impressive performance on both ends of the floor, some people still don’t see the Celtics beating the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks, who are currently the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals.
According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, the Celtics need “another big body” in order to have a chance of defeating the Bucks in a best-of-seven series.
“The road to the Finals goes through Milwaukee and the Bucks are big. It says here that Boston still needs to pick up another big body to have a chance against Milwaukee. There are bigs available: Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love can be had in Cleveland, while Clint Capela is the kind of active big that could thrive in the Celtics system. Boston will move draft picks to get a big but finding salaries to send out could prove difficult.”
Though only the opinion of Mannix, the Celtics are, in fact, in need of another big body. Since the 2019 offseason, rumors have been continuously circulating that the Celtics have been active on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded big man. Though they currently have Enes Kanter, Daniel Theis, and Robert Williams III playing at center, none of them could fill the hole Horford left on the defensive end of the floor.
So far, the Celtics have already been linked to several big men who are expected to be available on the trade market before the February trade deadline. These include Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets, Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers, Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Aron Baynes of the Phoenix Suns. However, there is one major problem in the Celtics’ potential pursuit of those big men.
Though the Celtics have an interesting collection of trade assets that include young players and future draft picks, finding players that they could use for salary-matching purposes would be difficult for the team. For their trade targets who have massive contracts, the Celtics would need to give up at least one of Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward in the deal.
As much as they want to boost their frontcourt, both players are currently very valuable in Boston and have played a major role in the Celtics’ success this season. As Mannix noted, Smart is considered the key to the Celtics’ defensive identity, while Hayward is playing extremely well and starting to live up to expectations from the huge contract he signed with Boston.