The Boston Celtics have undergone a variety of changes over the past year. Most importantly, they lost their franchise star in Kyrie Irving and replaced him with Kemba Walker. Whether or not Walker can replace Kyrie’s offensive production and impact remains to be seen, but the Celtics might still be looking for more changes.
GM Danny Ainge has always been known to make big-time moves to acquire big-time players, and this coming season might see some of that. The Celtics are good, but not great. At the same time, they seem to lack toughness and defense following the loss of Al Horford to Philadelphia. Enes Kanter is a nice player offensively but provides little to none defensive resistance.
As a result, the Celtics might look to move some players before the trade deadline and acquire some All-Star caliber talent to compensate for their losses. Here are the five players who might not finish the season with Boston.
5. Semi Ojeleye
Why the Celtics want to trade him: Ojeleye can be used as a filler for any trade that can bring in some star power to Boston. He does not make much money, but can still make most trades possible by evening out salary caps of other teams. The Celtics need to add star power, and providing a package of players is the best way to get this done.
Why teams want him: Ojeleye is a strong body who can provide depth to an NBA team off the bench. He has proved that he can play within a system, and stay within his role by playing defense and hustling as much as possible. He is very aware that his skill set is limited, and makes up for it in these other ways. Teams might not look for him to join a 10-man rotation, but he can be more than valuable as a reserve.
4. Robert Williams
Why the Celtics want to trade him: Williams has a lot of potential at the moment, thanks to his very young age. If they want to get some return, they can package him with some other key pieces in order to attract some star power. Williams makes $1,937,520, which can be an excellent filler for a trade package. With some second or first-round picks added to sweeten a potential deal, the Celtics might be in the running for some quality players.
Why teams want him: Williams is another big body, who is surprisingly effective at rebounding the ball. He can snatch multiple rebounds in a matter of minutes, with excellent positioning and strength. Williams might be looking for more playing time this coming season, and strive to legitimately be a main guy off the bench. At only 21 years of age, teams might be looking at Williams to grow and mature within their system to develop into an effective big man.
3. Gordon Hayward
Why the Celtics want to trade him: Hayward, most notably, has yet to recover his All-Star form after his gruesome leg injury. He is making a ton of money, $32,700,690 worth of it, and is grossly overpaid considering his production. Not to mention, the Celtics want to move on from the failed Kyrie-Hayward experiment since Kyrie has now moved on. At the same time, teams might want to take a leap at Hayward in the hopes you can provide the scoring and swingman qualities that made him so valuable a few years ago.
Why teams want him: Out of all the players on the Celtics, Hayward might have the most trade potential, if not for his inconsistent performances last season and his massive salary. Hayward averaged only 15 points per game last season despite on a max contract. Despite the poor form following his injury, Hayward had flashes of brilliance at moments last season with offensive explosions. For teams looking to add another star talent, they might take a leap and pray that Hayward can recover his All-Star form and produce immediately.
Hayward is far from finished and is still in his prime. If Hayward can recover his All-Star form, he is a major swingman in the league who is one of the best at scoring the basketball. He has great size, athleticism, and a nice skill set including shooting and slashing.
2. Marcus Smart
Why the Celtics want to trade him: Smart recently signed a big contract, and is a very productive player in the NBA. This makes him a perfect trade piece to teams looking for defense, quality minutes, and hustle. The Celtics can use his perfect salary as trade bait to acquire potential All-Stars to play alongside Kemba Walker. The Celtics might consider someone like LaMarcus Aldridge from the Spurs since Smart is a perfect Spurs player.
Why teams want him: Smart is one of the league’s best defenders, and is a player who consistently plays major minutes for the Celtics. Throughout his career, he has played three positions and has managed to handle all offensive players perfectly. He is very powerful and is a beast on the defensive end. He manipulates his opponents well, forcing them into difficult directions and staying with the ball handler. Smart can also bang inside and grab rebounds despite playing the shooting guard position most of the time.
Smart is certainly a player that any team would love to have on their teams.
1. Jaylen Brown
Why the Celtics want to trade him: The Celtics do not want to miss out on their championship opportunity in a very watered-down East. To do this, they must consider moving on from Jaylen Brown in order to acquire a perennial All-Star player. He will demand a max contract entering the coming season, and the Celtics might want to speed up their win-now process. Moving him to a team like Washington for Bradley Beal would make perfect sense. Celtics need All-Stars, and pairing Jaylen Brown with a guy like Gordon Hayward would make a perfect trade package for teams.
Why teams want him: Jaylen Brown is a young player who has All-Star potential. He has already showcased a very effective skill-set, including scoring and defending. He is long, very athletic, and is only showing a small part of his potential. Brown averaged 13 points in a down year last season and was not able to replicate his excellent season the year before where he was very productive in the Playoffs.
Brown is a player that can help any team immediately, and even be a building block for teams looking to rebuild. For teams looking to win-now, he provides incredible athleticism and length that gives an excellent swingman depth. For rebuilding teams, Brown can be a building block who has a very high ceiling. Brown has the potential to be an All-Star on both ends of the court, and it may be only a matter of time.