With the trade deadline approaching, trade rumors will now begin to swirl more than ever. Contending teams will scour the league looking for that extra piece or two that they feel can put them over the top. No doubt that the Boston Celtics will be doing just that. What trades can take them to that next level, though?
Back in November, there were rumors about the Celtics potentially pursuing Marcin Gortat. It makes sense, considering Gortat had expressed his unhappiness with the Phoenix Suns, and with Boston in dire need of another big man, it's a good fit.
Gortat would go a long way to helping solve the C's' rebounding woes, as the 28-year-old is averaging 8.6 boards (9.8 per 36 minutes) a game after averaging 10 on the dot last season. He would also provide some low post offense for the Celtics, not to mention a rim protector to assist Kevin Garnett.
Courtney Lee's play has picked up of late, so he is suddenly a more attractive trade chip for Boston. Jared Sullinger has been very impressive in his rookie year, and you'd have to imagine that the Suns would ask for Sully in any deal for Gortat. The C's might have to throw in a draft pick to sweeten the pot.
If there is any way to pry Anderson Varejao away from the Cleveland Cavaliers without having to include Avery Bradley in the deal, this is it.
By sending Sullinger and Fab Melo to the Cavaliers, you are providing them with some much-needed potential in terms of frontcourt depth since they have nothing behind Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. You are also giving Kyrie Irving a good running mate in Lee, a player who could help forge a nice small-ball lineup with the likes of Dion Waiters.
Of course, you are tossing in two first-round draft picks to complete the trade.
Varejao would obviously be a huge pickup for the Celtics, as the Brazilian big man is averaging 14.1 points and a league-leading 14.4 rebounds per game this season.
There is one catch, though: Varejao has not played since Dec. 18 with what has been called a bruised right knee. Coach Byron Scott said that it is "taking longer than everyone expected" to heal. The good news about this is that it decreases his trade value. The bad news? Whomever may acquire him may be taking on damaged goods.
Boston (and any team, really) must tread carefully in any potential Varejao deal.
3. Lee, Sullinger, Melo, Jeff Green and a first-round draft pick for DeMarcus Cousins, Francisco Garcia, Travis Outlaw and James Johnson
Yes, this is a monster deal, and because Jeff Green cannot actually be traded until Jan. 15, no trade machine can be presented to display the deal. However, this does work salary-wise, and if the Sacramento Kings really want to rid themselves of DeMarcus Cousins (and there have been conflicting reports on that), this could work.
For the C's, this trade is pretty much a no-brainer. You aren't giving up Bradley, but yet you're still putting together a package that could entice the Kings. Sacramento is in need of a starting small forward, so Green fits the bill there. The question is whether or not Sac wants to take on Green's $36 million contract, and that is certainly a pretty big question mark.
However, the Kings would also be getting Sullinger, a kid who looks like he could turn into a heck of a player one day, and Melo, a potential defensive stalwart up front. Lee also goes in the deal, and he would provide them with some nice backcourt depth, especially if they end up trading Tyreke Evans at some point.
Rumors have abounded about the Celtics wanting Cousins, the most recent one coming out on Jan. 6.
The 22-year-old out of Kentucky would undoubtedly be a big help to Boston up front, giving it another interior presence to put alongside of Garnett and a guy who can do almost anything offensively to boot. You're losing some depth by sending away Lee, Sullinger and Green, but for a player of Cousins' caliber, you do it.
One's first thought would be that the C's would absolutely have to include Bradley in any deal for Cousins, and that is definitely logical. Still, there could potentially be scenarios where the Celtics could get away with not doing so. Again, it all depends on how much Sacramento really wants to deal Cousins, if at all.
4. Lee, Sullinger, Melo, Green and two first-round draft picks for Josh Smith, Ivan Johnson and Anthony Tolliver
This is probably the biggest pipe dream of them all...or is it?
Let's remember that Josh Smith is a free agent this summer, and he has expressed his fondness for Boston in the past. It seems rather unlikely that the Atlanta Hawks will be able to pay Smith the money he wants, and even if they can, would they really want to?
Let's face it. The Hawks haven't been able to win with Smith as their centerpiece, and locking him up to a long-term deal would only hamper their flexibility in terms of what they can do elsewhere to improve the team. That's why a potential trade for J-Smoove is not too farfetched.
Of course, Atlanta will probably receive a ton of good offers, but maybe the Celtics can bank on the fact that Smith would want to play in Boston and could ask for a trade to the C's? It's not like the Hawks would be getting nothing, either.
They would receive the frontcourt duo of Sullinger and Melo, not to mention Green to fill the hole they have at small forward. Lee would give their smallish backcourt some depth, as well.
Like the drawn up deal for Cousins, no trade machine can be presented here due to Green's inability to be dealt before Jan. 15, but the salaries here do match.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of Jan. 6, 2013.