In a recent article, Sports Illustrated staff shared a list of trades that they want to see happen during the 2020-21 NBA season. These include a hypothetical deal that would send Dallas Mavericks small forward Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Boston Celtics before the 2021 trade deadline. In the proposed scenario by Sports Illustrated‘s Michael Pina, the Celtics would send an unprotected 2021 first-round pick to the Mavericks in exchange for Hardaway.
As of now, the Mavericks haven’t shown a strong indication that they are planning to move Hardaway before the 2021 trade deadline. However, if they struggle to consistently win games and can’t find their way back in the playoff race, it might be best for them to trade the veteran wingman instead of taking the risk of losing him in the 2021 free agency period without getting anything in return.
By sending him to Boston, they would receive a future first-round selection that they could use as a trade chip to find a third star to complement Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis in the 2021 offseason. Meanwhile, if the deal pushes forward, Pina believes that it would also be beneficial for Hardaway and the Celtics.
“Despite making 39.1% of 8.0 three-point attempts per game this season, Hardaway Jr. was moved to the bench last week. The Celtics could use that outside shooting to space the floor for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker. It’s an ideal role for THJ, a skilled offensive weapon who should embrace the chance to up his value in Boston before he hits the open market.”
Though they currently own the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference, it arguably makes a lot of sense for the Celtics to continue upgrading their roster, especially with the emerge of powerhouse teams like the Brooklyn Nets this year. Hardaway may not be an All-Star, but he could still be a great addition to the Celtics. He would give them another prolific scorer who is capable of excelling in an off-ball capacity.
This season, the 28-year-old small forward is averaging 17.3 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN. As Pina noted, having an elite three-point shooter like Hardaway would open more driving lanes for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker. This would make it easier for them to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when they are trapped by the opposing team’s defense.
Hardaway may not have shown any sign that he’s no longer happy in Dallas, but he could be the one who would benefit the most from the proposed scenario. Aside from having the chance to join a more competitive team this year, playing for the Celtics could also help him increase his value before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next offseason.