The Boston Celtics underwent big changes to their roster this offseason, losing key players such as Evan Fournier in free agency and also trading Kemba Walker for Al Horford. Other moves included re-signing Marcus Smart to a 4-year, $77 million extension which makes him either a long-term asset or a valuable trade piece for right now. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on the squad, the latter seems more likely.
The Celtics have had quite a few disappointments over the past few years, whether it was losing Kyrie Irving in free agency or failing to capitalize on their opportunities in a relatively weak Eastern Conference. But competition is at an all-time high in both conferences right now, and the Celtics need to make a blockbuster move to compete with teams such as the Nets, Bucks, and Lakers. Here are the 5 targets for the Boston Celtics this season, with All-Defensive performer Marcus Smart acting as the most valuable asset. Other pieces include young players such as Robert Williams, Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, 3 non-consecutive first-round picks (2022, 2023, 2025), and other fillers such as Josh Richardson (to match contracts) and future second-round picks.
5. Jerami Grant
Jerami Grant is a perfect modern-day forward, due to his versatility as a defender and athlete on the fastbreak. Grant was one of the contenders for the Most Improved Player Award, averaging 22.3 PPG after only 12.0 PPG one season prior. Grant brings a lot to the floor including defense and shot-blocking, but he transformed his game entirely last year.
The 6’8” forward is a strong offensive player right now and can form a legitimate Big Three with Tatum and Brown. Grant can easily slot in at the power forward position, allowing Tatum to return to his natural small forward position. The Celtics can play fast and switch on defense if they acquire Grant, a player who might not fit in the Pistons’ plans going forward.
4. CJ McCollum
CJ McCollum is a great offensive player for the Portland Trail Blazers and has helped Damian Lillard guide the team to the playoffs consistently. McCollum is fresh off a season averaging 23.1 PPG, a career-high, and has put up over 20 PPG the last 6 years. The sharpshooting guard will only be 30 years old in a few days, which means he has at least 3 or 4 more years as an elite scorer.
The Celtics have great scoring options with Tatum and Brown, but McCollum will make their lineup very difficult to defend against. Boston can certainly add more instant offense in a league driven by scoring over defense, and McCollum might make the team one of the best scoring groups in the entire league. Convincing Portland to trade him will not be easy, but picks and a defensive stalwart like Smart could be enough.
3. Zach LaVine
One of the best dunkers and scorers at the shooting guard position, Zach LaVine is a budding superstar in the league. For some reason, the Bulls have not offered an extension so trade rumors will be buzzing around LaVine all offseason. The guard is a special offensive player, after all. Standing 6’5” and armed with a solid three-point shot (41.9% last season), LaVine is getting better by the year.
The 26 year old fits perfectly with the Celtics, because Tatum and Brown are only 23 and 24 respectively. Boston would have a legitimate Big Three with LaVein on board, while veterans such as Al Horford can easily slot in the center position. The Celtics need to make a move that suits their long-term and short-term aspirations, something a LaVine trade brings instantly.
2. Ben Simmons
Despite all the criticisms and disappointment heading Ben Simmons’ way following last year’s disastrous postseason, the Australian is still a very good player. On defense, he is elite. Simmons finished runner-up in the Defensive Player of the Year race to Rudy Gobert, and was spectacular at defending 4 positions at a superstar level. On offense, Simmons is also an elite playmaker, averaging a career 7.7 APG.
The 6’11” point guard is a unique talent, one that would make the Celtics title contenders once again. Simmons will have no problem finding Tatum and Brown in an uptempo offense and will thrive as the most dominant defensive player on the team. The 3-time All-Star is only 25 years old, so the Celtics can be a title contender for the next 8 years if they strike a deal for the want-away star.
1. Bradley Beal
If Kevin Durant, James Harden, or Stephen Curry is not available; the next-best perimeter scorer has to be Bradley Beal. The shooting guard is a special offensive player, averaging over 30 PPG the past 2 seasons. The Washington Wizards are likely not going to make much noise in the East, and moving on for an extremely high-value Beal for picks and young players makes a ton of sense for them.
For the Celtics, they are getting a stud. Beal can create his own offense, gets hot instantly, and is a go-to guy in the clutch. Jayson Tatum is already developing into a dominant player in clutch situations, but adding a guy like Beal could take the team over the top. Offense is winning games in the NBA right now, and the best available scorer is Bradley Beal right now. If the Celtics want to compete with Brooklyn’s or Los Angeles’ Big Three on offense, they have to pull out all the stops for the 3-time All-Star.
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