Boston Celtics: 4 Players the C's Must Pursue Before the Trade Deadline
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With the Feb. 21 NBA trade deadline quickly approaching, the Boston Celtics are slowly declining. It’s made making some big moves imperative if the franchise wants to hang onto their fading playoff hopes.
It’s the latest turn of events for a 9-8 Celtics’ team in the midst of a season that can best be described as “topsy-turvy.”
Boston began the season on a two-game slide, then quickly responded by winning their next two. The team later embarked on a three-game winning streak, then proceeded to drop three of their next four. The Celtics rank No. 15 in points scored with 97.5 per game, but also rank No. 17 in points allowed with 97.9 per game.
But the most alarming stat, and the most likely factor toward the team’s .500 pace, is the team’s rebounding woes.
Although Boston only allows opponents 42.6 rebounds per game—No. 14 in the league—the Celtics only average 37.4 rebounds themselves—last in the league. Furthermore, their minus-4.7 rebound differential is the third-worst mark in the league.
In fact, in each of the last three seasons, Boston has finished in the bottom two when it comes to rebounding.
With that said, it would be safe to hypothesize that bringing in a better presence around the glass could provide the team the boost they need to play up to their high preseason expectations.
Without further ado, here are four players the Celtics should really look into bringing in before the deadline.
1. Josh Smith
Smith's high-flying abilities would be appreciated greatly in Boston.
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Oh, yes, Josh Smith.
Unfortunately, no deal happened. However, that should not stop the team from trying again.
Smith is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. With the news that the Hawks are most likely not going to be able to resign the 27-year-old, that opens the door for the Celtics to work some magic at the deadline.
The forward has expressed his love for Boston in the past, and surely the feeling would be mutual with the Celtics’ faithful.
And who could blame them?
Smith—a 2010 NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection—can provide the team with a player that can excel on both ends of the floor.
On the offensive side, his 16.1 points per game ranks No. 8 among small forwards and would have him second on the team. He can get up and down the court well and would work superbly with Rajon Rondo on the break.
On defense, Smith averages 7.6 rebounds per game. That mark ranks No. 4 among small forwards and would give him the team high in Boston. His 2.38 blocks per game rank No. 1 among his peers and No. 7 in the entire league.
In addition, being able to play both small and power forward would also prove beneficial for the Celtics.
Paired with Kevin Garnett, Smith would provide Boston with an intimidating presence in the post. Opposing teams would be better served taking outside shots then to dare trying to drive in on the imposing duo.
But, most importantly, he would be able to provide Paul Pierce with some much-needed rest.
At 35, Pierce should not be playing 30-plus minutes per night. That’s a surefire way to land the 14-year veteran on the sideline with an injury. Smith would be able to give Pierce his rest, while providing no drop in production at the position.
The only downside to a deal for Smith is what it might cost the franchise.
Most likely, the Celtics would have to give up both Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley and a possible future draft pick might be included as well.
One would have to wonder if the positives outweigh the negatives on this deal.
2. Marcin Gortat
Gortat would bring about improvement to the Celtics' defense.
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With Jason Collins and Fab Melo listed as the only 7-footers on the roster, the Boston Celtics have turned to utilizing 6’11” power forward Kevin Garnett as their starting center this season. After 6’10” Chris Wilcox, the rest of the roster is below 6’9”.
That’s why the Marcin Gortat rumors make perfect sense.
In 19 games this season for the Phoenix Suns, the 6’11” center has averaged 11.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He currently ranks No. 9 in the league in blocks, while ranking No. 8 with 0.93 blocks per personal foul.
His physical play down low would provide Boston with another imposing figure in the key.
Another added benefit is that the addition of Gortat would allow Garnett to return to playing his natural power forward position. This would allow him to drift out towards the key to take those long jumpers he loves so much while still having a big man in Gortat under the rim.
On the downside, the Suns would most likely want Avery Bradley, Fab Melo and Brandon Bass in return.
While Bass and Melo are acceptable trading pieces for the services of Gortat, giving up the near-elite perimeter defense of Bradley might be too high of an asking price.
3. Al Jefferson
Will Jefferson (center) be making his return to Boston?
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You don’t normally get too many second chances on a player in the NBA.
Luckily for Boston, they might prove to be the exception.
Eight years after drafting Al Jefferson as the 15th overall pick in the 2004 draft, the Boston Celtics are considering a move to bring the 27-year-old back to Boston.
Similar to Josh Smith, the Utah Jazz center is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the season. With his high level of play and likely demand for more money, Jefferson might make it difficult for the Jazz to resign him.
However, his play this season will surely back up any such demands he has.
In 19 games this season Jefferson has averaged 16.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Among centers he ranks No. 5 in scoring and No. 4 in rebounding.
With Utah currently slumping at 9-10, reaching the playoffs is starting to look like an unrealistic goal for the team. It might be in their best interest to try and swing a deal for Jefferson before the deadline, rather than letting him walk for free during the summer.
Jefferson would fit in perfect with the Celtics, where he averaged 16.0 points and 10.9 rebounds per game during the 2006-07 season.
In return, the Jazz would most likely covet Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger.
While losing Sullinger and Bradley might hurt, gaining a player of Jefferson’s caliber will make it seem better sooner rather than later.
4. Anderson Varejao
Varejao is playing at the peak of his career right now.
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If there’s one player the Boston Celtics should go all out for, it’s Anderson Varejao.
At 4-15, the Cleveland Cavaliers are definitely in the midst of a rebuilding phase. It would make a lot of sense for the team to want to move their 6’11” center in return for some younger players.
With Varejao playing at the prime of his career, the time is now for Boston to make a move.
In 17 games this season the 30-year-old is averaging career highs of 15.2 points, 15.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He currently leads the league in rebounds per game, while ranking No. 10 in scoring and No. 5 in assists among centers.
Varejao would easily solve the Celtics’ rebounding woes. His 6.2 offensive rebounds per game alone would rank him second on the team in rebounds.
Finding a player who averages 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds per game is a rarity these days. It would make landing Varejao a huge success for any franchise.
In return, the Cavaliers would most likely receive Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Fab Melo.
All in all, it’s an acceptable trade-off for a surefire All-Star center.
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