Since the departure of Al Horford last summer, the Boston Celtics have been active on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded big man. They managed to establish an impressive performance during the regular season up to the second round of the 2020 Playoffs despite not having a starting-caliber center on their roster. However, in their Eastern Conference Finals matchup against Bam Adebayo and the Miami Heat, their major frontcourt weakness was completely exposed. In recent months, the Celtics have already been linked to several big men who are expected to be available on the trading block this fall, including All-Star center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
In a recent article, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report created a list of “simple” trades that could change the NBA landscape. For the Celtics, Buckley believes that trading Gobert would address the “Al Horford-sized hole” in their frontcourt and boost their chances of fully dominating the Eastern Conference and bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy next season.
“Gobert would scratch that itch in the best way possible. He’s a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and one of only two players with career marks of a 21.0 rebound percentage and 5.0 block percentage. While his offensive range is limited, he just paced the Association in screen assists and ranked in the 72nd percentile as a pick-and-roll screener, so it’s not like he’s a one-way contributor. But he’ll need a new contract by 2021, and maybe he wants more than Utah is Willing to spend. Boston might balk at a massive number, too, but it’s worth executing the trade to see if it’s the last piece of the Celtics’ puzzle.”
There’s indeed no better replacement for Horford than a two-time Defensive Player of the Year like Gobert. Though he’s yet to unlock his three-point shooting skills, his arrival in Boston would boost their performance on both ends of the floor, giving them a very reliable scorer under the basket, an incredible rebounder, and a quality rim protector. Last season, he averaged 15.1 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks while shooting 69.3 percent from the field, per ESPN.
Having Gobert on their roster would enable the Celtics to better match up against powerhouse teams with dominant big men like the Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Denver Nuggets. To acquire the French big man, Buckley suggested that Boston could offer a package that includes Gordon Hayward, Daniel Theis, the No. 14 and 26 picks in the 2020 NBA Draft, and a 2023 first-rounder to Utah.
The proposed scenario would also be beneficial for the Jazz, especially if they don’t have any plans to give Gobert a massive contract extension. The hypothetical trade would allow them to bring back a fan-favorite and former All-Star in Hayward, a promising big man in Theis, and three first-round selections that they could use to add more young and promising talents to their roster.