After suffering a first-round exit in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the Boston Celtics could no longer wait for the 2020-21 NBA season to finish before they started improving their current roster. As the new Celtics' president of basketball operations, Brad Stevens' first move is to send Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder and bring Al Horford back to Beantown.
In a Twitter post, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed that the Celtics have agreed to trade Walker, the No.16 overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, and a 2025 second-round pick to the Thunder in exchange for Horford, Moses Brown, and a 2023 second-round pick.
Celtics Boost Frontcourt & Obtain Financial Flexibility
Though it cost them a first-round selection, engaging in a trade deal with the Thunder helped the Celtics obtain salary cap flexibility while providing the much-needed upgrade in their frontcourt. Horford may no longer be in his prime, but he still has some gas left in his tank. This season, he averaged 16.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 45.0 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN.
What makes Horford a more interesting addition to the Celtics is his familiarity with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown's game. Horford played for the Celtics for three consecutive seasons before he left them for the Philadephia 76ers in the 2019 free agency.
Al Horford Gets Opportunity To Compete For The Title Next Season
Despite how things ended between him and the Celtics in the summer of 2019, Horford would definitely love the idea of returning to Boston. Instead of wasting his remaining years in the league mentoring young players on a rebuilding team like the Thunder, reuniting with Tatum, Brown, and Marcus Smart would give him a realistic chance of reaching the NBA Finals and competing for the NBA championship title in the 2021-22 NBA season.
However, in order to achieve their main goal, the Celtics should find more ways to improve their roster around Tatum and Brown this summer.
Thunder Obtain More Draft Assets
Meanwhile, the deal with the Celtics enabled the Thunder to hit two birds with one stone. Aside from successfully getting rid of Horford and his massive salary, the Thunder also obtained more assets that could help them speed up the rebuilding process. After obtaining the No. 16 overall selection from the Celtics, the Thunder would now have three first-round picks in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft.
The Celtics could use those picks to add three young and promising talents to their roster or they could explore trading it to move up in the upcoming draft.
Kemba Walker As Thunder's Next Project
With the team still in the middle of the rebuilding process, the Thunder wouldn't mind absorbing Walker and the $73 million left in his contract. The Thunder may not be an ideal destination for Walker, but they could help him revive his career. Like what they did with Chris Paul, the Thunder could patiently wait for Walker to become 100 percent healthy before letting him prove to everyone in the league that he still has plenty of gas left in his tank.
If things go as they expect, Walker could find his way to a contender before the 2022 NBA trade deadline.