Due to their perceived weakness at the center position, the Boston Celtics have long been linked to various big men, with the likes of Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons and Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder often mentioned as potential midseason acquisitions. However, a new report suggests that the Celtics could also consider two veteran big men who were instrumental last season in helping the Toronto Raptors win their first-ever NBA championship — Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol.
On Thursday, Fadeaway World published a list of five centers the Celtics could theoretically target before next month’s trade deadline if they “want to stop” Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose team currently leads the entire league with a 33-6 win-loss record. While Adams and Drummond were once again brought up as plausible targets for Boston, the list included a few less frequently mentioned players, including Ibaka and Gasol, whose Raptors are right behind the Celtics (25-11) with their 25-13 record, placing them fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Talking about Ibaka, who mainly plays the power forward position for Toronto, Fadeaway World described him as an undersized, yet strong defender who could keep up with players like Antetokounmpo, despite him no longer ranking among the NBA’s top shot blockers as he did in his early years in the league. As shown on the Raptors’ team page on Basketball-Reference, the 30-year-old Ibaka is presently averaging 14.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and one blocked shot per game, putting him among the team’s leaders in each category.
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While Gasol’s per-game production (6.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 blocks) has noticeably declined this season, especially in terms of scoring, Fadeaway World wrote that the Celtics — if they decide to trade for him — would only need him for defensive purposes, given his history as former Defensive Player of the Year. Like Ibaka, the 34-year-old Gasol is on the final year of an expiring contract, thus making him a lower-risk target for Boston.
Although trading for Gasol and Ibaka could potentially help the Celtics improve their center rotation, which currently features Enes Kanter, Daniel Theis, and Robert Williams splitting the time in the middle, Bleacher Report noted this week that the team isn’t expected to make any blockbuster deals before the deadline. Instead, recent rumors have suggested that Boston might explore the buyout market and make a lower-profile roster upgrade. This is reportedly due to general manager Danny Ainge’s reluctance to part ways with the organization’s many talented outside shooters, including, but not limited to, starters Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum.