As the midseason trade deadline looms, it's beginning to seem like the only player looking at a potential change of scenery is Carmelo Anthony. However, the value of a trade during the regular season can be invaluable if done correctly.
Look at the 2004 trade of Rasheed Wallace to the Detroit Pistons. It led to the team's incredible championship victory over the Lakers.
Or for a more recent example, the blockbuster deal between the Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns that sent Gilbert Arenas, Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark to Orlando.
The Magic had hit a rough patch in December, losing five of eight games prior to the trade, and though the new acquisitions were slow to acclimate to Stan Van Gundy's system. Once they clicked, they went on a franchise record-tying win streak and are currently in a deadlock with the Hawks for fourth in the Eastern Conference standings.
While the Celtics roster is predicated upon each player knowing one anothers style of play, there's always room for new blood to provide energy and a different dynamic. Without further ado, here are seven players that, in my opinion, would make the Celts the team to beat this season.
(Okay, none of these players will make the Celtics "unbeatable", but sometimes we all like a little hyperbole...)
Jamal Crawford - Atlanta Hawks
Celtics would trade: Nate Robinson, Kendrick Perkins | Ray Allen, Glen Davis.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Crawford is as strong a bench player as you get. He could easily step up and relieve some of the backcourt scoring burden placed upon Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels.
While Nate is a decent player, his shoot-first mentality can be detrimental if he hits a cold streak. The 30- year-old Crawford is one of the most reliable guards you can find. Also, in the event of an injury to Rajon Rondo or Ray Allen, Crawford could receive the starts he yearns for and isn't getting in Atlanta.
PPG: 16.1 | APG: 3.5 | RPG: 1.9 | 3P%: 36.1
Emeka Okafor - New Orleans Hornets
Celtics would trade: Jermaine O'Neal, Nate Robinson.
Although, once Kendrick Perkins returns from his injury, the Celtics will have a wealth of centers at their disposal. A player like Okafor would help rectify a key problem in the C's game—rebounding.
Averaging more than ten rebounds per contest, Okafor can snatch boards on the offensive and defensive end with the best of them. He's also a proficient post-player who can usually finish well at the rim.
PPG: 11 | RPG: 10.4 | BPG: 1.7 | FG%: 58.8
Wilson Chandler - New York Knicks
Celtics would trade: Shaquille O'Neal, Glen Davis.
While the Big Three undoubtedly have a few strong years left, the Celtics do need to start looking to rebuild once the Allen, Garnett and Pierce jerseys are hanging in the rafters.
Chandler, at 23, is a strong young forward who would be able to fill the void left by Kevin Garnett's eventual departure. While he can be a bit of a streaky shooter, he's a real asset if he finds a rhythm early in a game.
Chandler interacts well with Raymond Felton currently and good point guard-forward interaction would be key in coming to a team with Rajon Rondo.
PPG: 17.1 | RPG: 6.2 | BPG: 1.4 | 3P%: 35.4
DeJuan Blair - San Antonio Spurs
Celtics would trade: Glen Davis, Nate Robinson.
Blair is a player whose worth is much greater than his per game averages indicate. The two-year man out of Pittsburgh is a force in the paint and is another player who could put an end to the Celtics' rebounding woes.
Blair, despite his lack of ACLs, would be another healthy body in the Celtics' center position, and since Kendrick Perkins may be a bit slow to fully recuperate, he'd be vital playing off the bench and starter minutes.
While Shaquille O'Neal is still a strong player and will be a good second option, he has missed a slew of games for various health reasons and is a huge foul liability.
Jermaine O'Neal has been a bit of a bust this season, largely due to knee issues, and while there may be some tread left on his tires, the Celts need to get younger.
PPG: 7.7 | RPG: 6.7 | SPG: 1.18 | FG%: 48.6
J.R. Smith - Denver Nuggets
Celtics would trade - Delonte West, Glen Davis.
Smith is one of those players who I can't praise enough for what he can do off the bench. He brings three-point shooting prowess, driving and finishing ability, and enough energy to alter the pace of a game merely by stepping onto the court. He's had some personal issues with the Nuggets coaching staff, but I'm sure if anyone could make him toe the line, it's Doc Rivers.
Smith and Rondo would make up one of the most creative backcourts in the league, either feeding open teammates or establishing shots for themselves. Smith would add even more depth to the guard position for the Celts. If Ray Allen was injured or Nate Robinson was having one of his "0-for-15-but-still-shooting" nights, J.R. Smith could easily fit right in.
PPG: 11.6 | RPG: 4.0 | APG: 2.1 | 3P%: 36.7
Brook Lopez - New Jersey Nets
Celtics would trade: Kendrick Perkins, Marquis Daniels.
Now, it's pretty unlikely that the Nets would part with their best player in the midst of such a bleak season, but there are definite benefits Lopez would have as part of the Celtics.
Having another seven-footer never hurts and Lopez is surprisingly quick for such a large player. His size makes him a solid rebounder as well, though his board total is down slightly from his career average. He can also draw defenders well ,and then kick the ball out to a three-point shooter like Ray Allen.
PPG: 19.2 | RPG: 5.8 | APG: 1.4 | BPG: 1.5
Al Horford - Atlanta Hawks
Celtics would trade - Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels.
Now don't get me wrong, I love Kendrick Perkins, and I think he has huge value as a center, but Horford's impact on his team is undeniable. He's one of the most active defending centers in the league and a dependable offensive option to boot.
Nearly averaging a double-double on the season, Horford is another player who could fill the Celts rebounding void, which I consider a vital issue. Horford is another young player who could have a strong initial season as part of the Celtics' lineup, but would only get better as he got more accustomed to the team.
Considering the level of play he's exhibiting with an average point guard, imagine if Rondo were running plays for Horford.
PPG: 16.2 | RPG: 9.7 | APG: 3.4 | BPG: 1.1