3 Trade Targets for Celtics to Consider Before Rumor Mill Picks Up
The Boston Celtics have a credible claim for being the best team of the 2022-23 NBA season.
Entering Monday, they pace the Association in winning percentage (.813) and net efficiency rating (plus-7.7, per NBA.com). That they've enjoyed this strong start without interior anchor Robert Williams III just highlights how truly tremendous this team can be.
Perhaps that leads to a sleepy trade season in Beantown. Then again, there's no such thing as a championship contender having too much talent. Plus, who knows what can happen between now and the Feb. 9 trade deadline.
If nothing else, the Celtics' decision-makers should spend this time identifying potential trade targets in case they learn this roster still needs an upgrade or two. The following three players look like potential need-fillers.
Alec Burks, Detroit Pistons
Boston's bench has been great so far—third in net efficiency, per NBA.com—but it could still use more depth on the wings.
A multi-skilled swingman like veteran Alec Burks would be ideal.
His bag is deep enough to answer calls for almost anything. He can create offense off the dribble, slip past defenders with timely cuts, bury catch-and-launch triples and hold his own defensively, on and off the ball.
The 31-year-old can be hugely helpful for a winning team, which makes it seem impossible he'll last beyond the deadline on the rebuilding Pistons.
Kelly Olynyk, Utah Jazz
While Boston's frontcourt obviously isn't the same without Robert Williams III, even at full strength it might be one big man shy of an ideal mix for a playoff rotation.
If the Celtics' decision-makers agree with that assessment, perhaps they could fill that void with a familiar face.
Kelly Olynyk, who played his first four NBA seasons in Boston, could be obtainable if (when?) the Jazz cool off and remember they actually kickstarted a top-to-bottom rebuild this offseason. A return to norm for Olynyk himself might speed up that process, as the 31-year-old currently sports career-high (and almost assuredly unsustainable) shooting rates from the field (53.1) and from three (47.3).
He doesn't have much to offer defensively, but on the opposite end, he's a steady source of shot-making, slick-passing and sound decision-making.
Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs
Do the Celtics need to spend what it would take to pry Jakob Poeltl out of San Antonio? There's some speculation on that front around the league.
"The question is, 'does this team need to go out and get another big man who can defend?'" Brian Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective (h/t celticsblog.com). "The name that has come up that people have speculated has been Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs."
While Poeltl should be up for grabs—he needs a new deal after this season, and the rebuilding Spurs seem unlikely to cover that cost—he might be too good for what the Celtics need. Drop a healthy Robert Williams III back into this rotation and there might not be enough minutes to go around for him, Grant Williams, Al Horford and Poeltl.
Then again, Robert Williams III isn't healthy now and often hasn't been throughout his career. Horford will turn 37 in June. Grant Williams is handling a bigger role than ever. Maybe having Poeltl as a pricey insurance policy could be worth it. He might force his way into more minutes than you'd think, too, since he's such a reliable source of paint protection, close-range finishing, solid screens and rebounds.