Since failing to re-sign Al Horford in the 2019 NBA free agency, the Boston Celtics have been active on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded big man who could fill the hole Horford left on their roster. Over the past few months, the Celtics have already been linked to several big men who are expected to be available on the free agency and trade market in the 2020 offseason, including Clint Capela of the Atlanta Hawks. The proposed trade deal to get Capela appeared in 2020 Bleacher Report‘s NBA Fantasy league, where the Hawks would exchange him for Marcus Smart and Robert Williams of the Celtics.
Capela would undeniably be an incredible addition to the Celtics, giving them a starting-caliber center who could replace Horford. At 26, he would also be a perfect fit for the timeline of Celtics franchise cornerstones Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. However, according to Justin Quinn of the Celtics Wire, trading Smart and Williams for Capela doesn’t make sense.
In his recent article, Quinn analyzed this hypothetical trade deal. Though he is the better center, Capela offers the same skill set and limitations as Williams. They are both quality rim protectors, but they aren’t very good at defending the perimeter or guarding smaller and faster players.
Most people would definitely view Capela as a clear upgrade over Williams at the center position, but Quinn said his lucrative contract would have a huge affect on the Celtics’ salary cap flexibility in the coming years.
“The Celtics, as cap enthusiasts are aware, are about to get very expensive with Jayson Tatum extension-eligible this offseason — particularly if veteran forward Gordon Hayward opts into the final year of his current deal,” Quinn wrote. “Next season is Boston’s most likely shot at a championship until the older players on the roster finish their deals or are otherwise out of the picture, and center Daniel Theis has proven a very capable starter for the Celtics, on the books next season for another bargain at $5 million.”
Quinn also believes that Smart is too valuable for Boston to trade for Capela. Smart’s statistics may not be that impressive, but he’s one of the major reasons behind the Celtics’ success in the 2019-20 NBA season. Aside from being a positive locker room presence, he is capable of defending multiple positions and has proven to be a good fit alongside Tatum and Brown.
If Boston ever considers including Smart in a trade package, it should be for an All-Star caliber big man who is capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc and defending the rim and the perimeter.