By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge may have something cooking on the trade market, as revealed by The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor in his latest NBA power rankings.
“Late Saturday evening, I received a flurry of texts from multiple executives around the league who said the Celtics were up to something,” O’Connor wrote. “What they’re up to is unclear, but league sources have long said Boston is searching for upgrades to bolster its wing and big man position.”
Off to a 12-10 start in 2020-21 despite a litany of injuries and COVID issues, with Jaylen Brown’s knee soreness the latest issue to pop up for Ainge’s squad, the Celtics currently find themselves in the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. That is where many expected the Celtics to be this season, and that was before the Nets added James Harden. But it’s also put the Celtics in a position where they are currently just 1.5 games away from finding themselves away from the No. 7 seed in the East, which would throw the C’s into the NBA’s play-in tournament. Nobody wants those extra miles on the Celtics’ knees.
As noted by O’Connor, the Celtics are indeed looking to bolster their frontcourt depth, and it helps that Tristan Thompson’s contract, which counts for just over $9 million for this year and next, is now tradeable. The Celtics also have plenty of young players with easily tradeable contracts, and the Celtics possess their own first-round pick for the next five drafts and beyond.
Ainge also possesses that historically high trade exception thanks to the team’s sign-and-trade involving Gordon Hayward.
And speaking on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich program last week, Ainge seemingly peeled back the curtain on the team’s plans for that exception, and what the Celtics are ‘up to’ according to O’Connor’s report.
“I would say that we can use shooting,” Ainge told the guys. “We could use passing. But you always need defense and our team is built on defense. We’ve been winning with defense over the last few years.
“I know we haven’t won a championship, but we need defense. It’s hard to just find a shooter that can’t guard anybody and expect that person to come in and make a major change on our team. We’re looking for complete players, obviously, that can – but I think that shooting at the big position is something that we haven’t had.”
And though he doesn’t fit the mold of what the Celtics are looking for in terms of a big man with shooting range, the Celtics have been among those linked to the Pelicans’ JJ Redick early in the 2020-21 rumor season.