Boston Celtics

Jan 24, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose (25) during the second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Last season the Celtics were the only Eastern Conference contender that didn’t make a move at the NBA trade deadline, and it showed. The team was the first of the conference’s top four seeds to be eliminated from the playoffs. With a much more limited market this year and a closer, more competitive Eastern Conference field, a single trade has the potential to provide a major shakeup to the power dynamic heading into the playoffs.

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the players the Celtics should consider adding (and some they should stay away from) between now and 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Players to Target

Here’s what the Celtics need: Bench scoring, frontcourt depth, and maybe an upgrade over Brad Wanamaker as the backup point guard if the right player is there (keep in mind, the three are not mutually exclusive). No need to go all-out on a roster changing player right now when it feels like they have one of the best cores in the NBA. Cost-effective, efficient scorers. That’s the name of the game here.

Davis Bertans, Washington Wizards

Jan 28, 2020; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans (42) shoots against Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton (24) during the fourth quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Per Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, Boston has shown ‘strong interest’ in 27-year-old Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans. The 6-foot-10 Bertans would be a multi-facet aid for the Celtics. As an imposing figure who can shoot from the perimeter (he’s shooting 42.9 percent from three this season), he would add both bench scoring (a category where the Celtics currently rank 27th in the league) and depth to the frontcourt. With an expiring contract worth just $7 million, he could be acquired without Boston parting with any key pieces (Theis, Wanamaker) as long as the Celtics are willing to part with draft picks (they have three in the first round in 2020). The odd part about Bertans’ situation is that the Wizards are reportedly unwilling to move him, despite the fact the team is 17-32 and doesn’t expect to get John Wall back this season.

Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers

Jan 11, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) fouls a shot attempt by Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) in the second half at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While there have been no rumors connecting the two, Thompson would give the Celtics what they’ve been lacking over the last few years; a strong interior defensive presence who can also rebound the ball on both ends of the floor. While it would be tough to make the financial side work (Thompson is due $18 million on an expiring contract), if Cleveland buys his contract out (which is unlikely but not unrealistic), Danny Ainge needs to be on the phone with his people immediately. 

Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons

Mar 18, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose (25) dunks in the fourth quarter against Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

While Rose may not make sense on the surface, he could be a unique new wrinkle for the Celtics come playoff time. With Kemba Walker’s knee injury seemingly something he and the team will have to manage for the rest of the season, adding an experienced backup point guard should be a top priority for the Celtics. While Rose doesn’t have the perimeter shooting prowess the Celtics usually look for in guards, he has proven to be an excellent pick-and-roll ball handler. With just a $7 million salary this year and next, the Celtics wouldn’t have to give up much to make the money work in a trade, then would either have an affordable backup point guard to start next season or an expiring contract to deal this summer. With the reported asking price being a lottery pick (which the Boston-owned Memphis pick may become), it looks like the Celtics have the ammo to pull this one off if they so choose.

Ish Smith, Washington Wizards

Jan 8, 2020; Orlando, Florida, USA;Washington Wizards guard Ish Smith (14) drives to the basket during the first half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to what’s said above about Derrick Rose, adding a backup point guard would be huge for the Celtics, allowing them to rest Kemba down the stretch and provide a strong backup plan if he can’t go at any point during the playoffs. While Smith is less experienced than Rose, he has the three-point shot Danny Ainge covets. Also on an affordable two-year deal (due $6 million this season and next), this could also be seen as a big-picture acquisition. The issue here is the same as with Bertans; the Wizards seem unwilling to sell despite their well-under-.500 record.

Players to Avoid

What the Celtics don’t need to do this week is over-extend and mortgage their future for this one specific playoff run. They’ll be back, and probably become a better team organically over the next few years as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown gain experience. They were right in avoiding a guy like Clint Capela. He would have come at a steep price, and not changed much of the big picture.

In order to match salaries, the Celtics would likely have had to part with one of their established bigs (either Kanter or Theis), meaning the trade would be an upgrade, but not add any depth to a team that desperately needs it. Once Capela was on the roster, the Celtics would have owed him between $15 million and $18 million through the end of the 2022-2023 season. With Kemba Walker playing under a max deal for the next three years and Tatum due a big pay day as well, this would severely limit the Celtics flexibility for multiple offseasons down the road. Danny Ainge rightfully decided not to pull the trigger on this one. Here are a few other guys he should avoid:

Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers

Dec 31, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) reaches for a rebound with Toronto Raptors forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (4) in the first half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Kevin Love would be a great fit in Brad Stevens’ offense. Yes, Danny Ainge has been after him for about his entire career as the Celtics GM. That being said, now is not the time to make the deal. Much like Capela, Love would be a massive financial undertaking (happy Valentines Day, am I right?), due $30 million for the next four years. If Boston was to make this move, they’d be committing to the 31-year-old Love as a part of their core for the foreseeable future. If the team wasn’t willing to give a similar deal to Al Horford this summer, why give it to Love now? On top of all that, obtaining love would likely cost the Celtics Gordon Hayward, who has been playing the best basketball of his Celtics career over the last month and is showing he may be returning to form after his traumatic ankle injury in the 2017 opener. While it made sense earlier in the season, now is not the time to trade Hayward. Danny Ainge may do anything for Love, but he shouldn’t do that.

Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons & Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder

Nov 24, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

We’re going to combine these two, because the reasons to stay away are essentially the same. Both are due $25 million-plus over the next two seasons (Drummond’s deal is a 2021 player option, so if he plays well enough he could opt out), and while both add size and an interior presence, neither fits the system well enough to warrant a non-rental investment. Given the contracts, the Celtics would probably have to move either Theis or Kanter to make the deal happen (such as mentioned above with Capela). Given both are late-game liabilities at the free throw line, the Celtics could be setting themselves up for tricky end-of-game situations with limited depth in the front court.

It seems like this trade deadline season has been slow with rumors and speculations. Perhaps that’s due to NBA GMs staying tight-lipped for once, but it’s much more likely we are looking at a heavy sellers market. With what feels like most of the league still in playoff contention and few players on struggling teams with contracts easy to deal, the price to bring in any cost-effective talent is going to be more expensive than usual. The Celtics have built a highly competitive roster that seems to enjoy playing together and feeding off one another’s talent. Yet, they are desperate for bench scoring and could certainly use depth in the front court. There are moves out there to be made for Boston, but if the right deal isn’t on the table this is not a bad year to sit out. As Danny Ainge told NBC Sports Boston on Monday, he won’t “make a deal just to make a deal”, and rightfully so.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com