Celtics Players Who Should Be Shopped at 2021 NBA Trade DeadlineFebruary 18, 2021
Celtics Players Who Should Be Shopped at 2021 NBA Trade Deadline
The Boston Celtics are tumbling.
The Shamrocks have erased all the momentum they accrued during an 8-3 start, going just 6-11 since to put them right back at square one with a .500 record.
Kemba Walker hasn't been himself while trying to put his recent knee trouble behind him. The bench has struggled to find consistency beyond rookie Payton Pritchard. The huge void left by Gordon Hayward's departure in free agency is hard to ignore.
The sky isn't falling, as rising swingmen Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown won't let that happen. But Boston's young stars need more help.
As the Celtics go searching for assistance between now and the March 25 NBA trade deadline, the following three players could be sacrificed to find it.
What's the best way to label a recent lottery pick who's been limited to just 32 appearances across his first season-plus in the NBA?
Intriguing might be a stretch, but for future-focused deadline shoppers, perhaps they'd want a crack at handling the future of 21-year-old Romeo Langford.
He's basically a blank slate right now, as injuries have plagued him each of the past two seasons. He hasn't even suited up yet in 2020-21 as he's working his way back from wrist surgery.
But he was taken with the 14th pick of the 2019 draft for a reason. When healthy, he's a gifted scorer with a wealth of shot-creating tricks inside the arc. Tack on an interesting blend of size, length and athleticism, and there might be enough to attract interest from teams with long-term visions.
This might qualify as blasphemy in Boston, where Marcus Smart has ingrained himself in the fabric of the franchise as its emotional leader. So, for the sake of Celtics fans, let's yank off the bandage as quickly as possible.
If the Celtics want to land an impact player making more than rookie-scale money—basically, any conceivably available impact talent, save perhaps for restricted-free-agents-to-be John Collins and Lauri Markkanen—they'll need to send out a sizable salary in return. Not even the richest traded player exception in NBA history (a whopping $28.5 million) can fetch a full-fledged needle-mover.
Boston has three players making eight-figure salaries this season: Walker, Brown and Smart. Walker's $34.4 million salary is too rich for teams to touch until he shows he's healthy enough to get back to his old All-Star form, and if he does that, why would the Celtics want to trade him? Brown is untouchable—has been for a minute. Smart, then, stands out as a logical trade candidate.
Now, that's only true if the Celtics are doing something major. Otherwise, Smart's blend of relentless defense and playmaking (career-high 6.1 assists) are reasons enough to keep him around. But if a big fish is on the table, Smart will almost certainly need to be part of the bait that hooks it.
The Celtics showed tremendous trust in Daniel Theis last season when they tasked him with a heavier workload to offset the departures of Al Horford and Aron Baynes.
But Boston made its biggest offseason investment in fellow center Tristan Thompson. Robert Williams III, a first-round pick in 2018, factors into the equation, too. Even then, it's unclear if the Celtics have enough frontcourt oomph to plot a path out of the Eastern Conference.
One can argue whether center is the club's top need, but it clearly belongs somewhere on the target list. If one comes in, it's natural to assume one goes out. Since Theis is the only member of the aforementioned trio playing on an expiring contract, he might be the logical choice to go.
As with Smart, it would take a big deal for Boston to cut bait with Theis, though he's not as impactful in the basketball or emotional senses. If the Celtics are in the center market, that might be reason enough to assume their days with Theis are numbered.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.