Celtics' Top Trade, Free-Agent Targets After Kevin Durant Agrees to Stay with Nets

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 23, 2022

Celtics' Top Trade, Free-Agent Targets After Kevin Durant Agrees to Stay with Nets

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    AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

    The Boston Celtics were among the teams rumored to be in the mix for Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant, but a two-month saga following a June trade request has ended with the Nets announcing he will be sticking in town.

    With training camp starting in September and the regular season beginning Oct. 18, the Celtics don't have much time to improve their roster from now until when Boston officially begins its quest for title No. 18.

    That being written, Boston is coming off an Eastern Conference title-winning season that saw the C's come two wins short of beating the Golden State Warriors for the NBA crown. Led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics' championship window is wide open.

    Boston has already gotten to work this offseason by adding Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and Atlanta Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari to this squad.

    If the C's potentially do anything else, then it'll probably be a minor move to round out the roster as opposed to anything Earth-shattering like the KD proposal.

    With that in mind, here's a look at potential Celtics' options to round out the 2022-23 team.

Free Agents

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    AP Photo/Steven Senne

    The Celtics are loaded in the backcourt. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown figure to start, while Brogdon should be the sixth man.

    Those three should handle the bulk of the backcourt minutes, but the team still has Derrick White and Payton Pritchard, who played key roles in the Eastern Conference title run.

    The wings appear set as well with All-NBA First-Teamer Jayson Tatum handling small forward. Grant Williams and Gallinari should handle a bunch of minutes there as well.

    If the Celtics do anything, it could be to add some more depth to the frontcourt.

    Horford was tremendous in the playoffs thanks to 12.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, and he was a massive reason why the C's won the East. He's also 36 years old and entering his 16th NBA season, and he could potentially use more rest or play fewer minutes to stay fresh for the playoffs.

    Robert Williams III is a defensive juggernaut, a potential perennial All-Star and an electric and efficient offensive player who lights up the home C's crowd with his dunks. He's unfortunately been hampered with injuries at times, so perhaps Boston could add someone to help take his place if needed.

    With that in mind, there are a few forwards or bigs on the market if the C's feel they need reinforcements, either now or during the season. They include LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Montrezl Harrell, DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whiteside.

    Aldridge provides size at 6'11" and range and could be the best fit. He averaged 12.9 points on 55.0 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game. The longtime veteran isn't going to provide 25-30 minutes a night, but he could slide in as needed and hop on a championship roster for the first time in his career.

Trade Targets

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    AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File

    As far as trade targets go, it's difficult to envision the Celtics making moves in this department if a KD deal is off the table.

    Durant is one of the game's greatest players, and it was only natural for the Celtics to check in on him. Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic provided insight:

    "For Boston, fresh off a trip to the NBA Finals, the opportunity to potentially land one of the greatest players in league history is one that president Brad Stevens must analyze and explore. However, the Celtics are assuredly set to be judicious and are keen on ensuring the franchise can remain a championship contender for years to come, which this current core appears to be set to do. But this is Kevin Durant, and his greatness could instantly reshape a teamโ€™s fortunes from a title contender to a title winner under the right circumstances."

    However, KD is now off the table, and any other name being talked about in trade rumors doesn't make much sense for Boston right now.

    Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is on the trading block, but the C's already have a star guard in Brown. Plus, Utah's asking price for Mitchell appears astronomical, to the point where longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein said the Jazz were asking for seven first-round picks from the New York Knicks, who are reportedly interested.

    Center Myles Turner and guard Buddy Hield of the Indiana Pacers were reportedly mentioned in trade rumors with the Los Angeles Lakers, but neither would be a fit in Boston. The Celtics already have a starting big in Williams, and the Celtics' backcourt already is set for 2022-23. As is, the C's already made their deal with the Pacers for Brogdon.

    Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving have been mentioned in trade rumors (specifically for each other), but the former is coming off a down year and the latter appears set to run it back with the Brooklyn Nets now. As is, seeing Irving back in Celtic green after a rocky tenure in Boston doesn't seem possible.

    Ultimately, the Celtics have a potential championship core in place right now. Unless the Celtics magically find themselves with an opportunity to trade for a superstar around KD's caliber, they should be standing pat until the midseason trade deadline.

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