Boston Celtics

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 08: John Collins #20 of the Atlanta Hawks dunks against the Indiana Pacers during the first half at State Farm Arena on February 08, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

  • The Boston Celtics have been the subject of multiple trade rumors ahead of Thursday night, when the 2022 NBA Draft kicks off.

    As of this writing, the C’s still have just the 53rd overall pick in the second round on Thursday. They’ve reportedly shown interest in the 28th pick, currently owned by the team that just beat them in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors. But at least one other report suggests that Brad Stevens could be looking to acquire a player. And I mean a player.

    According to Zach Harper in a new column for The Athletic, there is “some chatter the Celtics could be interested in a deal” to acquire big man John Collins from the Atlanta Hawks. However, Harper lays out the possibility of such a deal and makes it sound unlikely. Jaylen Brown has improved too much to this point to be a trade chip, and Al Horford is 36 and expensive.

    But, if the C’s can pull off a Collins trade, the 24-year-old would likely be pegged as the team’s long-term solution at power forward. Collins averaged 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and one block per game last season for the Hawks, and also shot 36.3 percent from three-point range.

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  • Offensively, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Collins would be like Horford aged backward, Benjamin Button-style. Defensively, Collins has steadily improved and could fit what the Celtics like to do with switches and helping on double-teams.

    Actually acquiring him seems like a long-shot, but Stevens’ aggressiveness in his first off-season as the Celtics’ president of basketball ops indicated that he’s willing to wheel & deal. So don’t be surprised if the C’s end up making headlines on Thursday night, even lacking a first-round pick.

  • Clippers Dangling 3-Point Sharpshooter?

    CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 19: Luke Kennard #5 of the LA Clippers attempts a shot in the 2022 NBA All-Star - MTN DEW 3-Point Contest as part of the 2022 All-Star Weekend at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 19, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

    CLEVELAND, OHIO – FEBRUARY 19: Luke Kennard #5 of the LA Clippers attempts a shot in the 2022 NBA All-Star – MTN DEW 3-Point Contest as part of the 2022 All-Star Weekend at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 19, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

    Luke Kennard was mentioned in a previous column as a name the Celtics could look into as an upgrade in bench scoring, which Stevens specifically said the team could use in his end-of-season press conference. According to Sean Deveney at Heavy.com, the Los Angeles Clippers are “shopping” Kennard ahead of Thursday night, and “will look to move him next month if no deal can be reached.”

    So, it would be surprising if Stevens didn’t at least make a call to Clippers GM Michael Winger to see what the asking price is. And, considering the Clips are already willing to wait until July to make a deal, the acquiring team has some leverage on a deal at the moment.

    Kennard led the NBA last season with a 44.9 percent rate from three-point range. It wasn’t a total fluke. He also shot 44.6 percent from downtown in the 2020-21 season, too. He’s a 42.5 percent three-point shooter for his career.

    So even if his efficiency took a step back in the 2022-23 season, Kennard would immediately become the Celtics’ best pure shooter off the bench. Stevens would have multiple factors to think about for a Kennard trade. Obviously there’s the price tag of the trade itself, but there’s also the idea that Stevens still seems high on Payton Pritchard and/or Aaron Nesmith.

    The best-case scenario would be one of those guys emerging as a sharpshooter among the reserves. But if one of them were spun off in a package for the more established Kennard, the C’s would have an instantly better roster and fill one of their top needs.

  • What if they stand pat?

    MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 19: Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens looks on prior to Game Two of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena on May 19, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    MIAMI, FLORIDA – MAY 19: Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens looks on prior to Game Two of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena on May 19, 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

    That wouldn’t be the end of the world. The only urgency for the Celtics to make a trade is timing-related. A lot of teams may be looking to get their moves in before the draft starts, as opposed to waiting until July.

    But at the same time, the Celtics don’t have a pressing need for a major piece. Both Stevens and team Governor Wyc Grousbeck (on Felger & Mazz) have indicated that they like their core and are more interesting in tweaks than anything significant. But Stevens, personally, still sees a level of significance in moves along the margins of the roster that others may not.

    “I think teams are fragile,” Stevens said Tuesday. “I think the way that teams work together and operate together are fragile. And I think your identity as a team, when you find one that’s successful, which we did this year on the defensive end of the floor and when we were at our best sharing the ball offensively, those things are fragile.

    “Just to add [to the team] doesn’t mean that you’re not taking something away from the group. And to change significant pieces in the group doesn’t mean that that might not totally take your identity and shift it in a direction that’s not as successful. And so it’s quite a fine line.”

    The NBA Draft begins Thursday night, but it seems like it’ll only be the beginning of a busy off-season for Stevens and the Celtics.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.