Celtics’ Complete 2024 NBA Trade Deadline Preview, Predictions
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The Boston Celtics used the 2023 NBA offseason to make significant changes to their roster.
They won’t do the same ahead of the upcoming Feb. 8 trade deadline.
The offseason additions of Kristaps Porziņģis and Jrue Holiday have solidified what was already one of the Association’s best teams. Boston has been formidable for virtually the entirety of the Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown era, but you have to travel back nearly 20 years to find the last time the Shamrocks had a winning percentage this high (.771).
The Celtics are full-fledged, short-list title contenders. That might lead many—members of this front office perhaps included—to believe that Boston can simply snooze through swap season and see what’s left on the buyout market. Or, since a championship run feels like a distinct possibility, the decision-makers could wind up scouring the trade market in search of any boost it can give this bunch.
We’ll break down where everything stands for the Celtics ahead of the deadline and predict how things could look once it passes.
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On the surface, the Celtics have what it takes to get a not insignificant deal done.
Despite all of their recent wheeling and dealing, they still have the ability to trade up to three of their own first-round picks. Plus, they have another eight second-round picks to put in play. There isn’t a player in this trade market who will bring back more draft picks than Boston has in its hand.
NBA trades involve more than assets, though. The finances need to line up, and that’s where things get dicey.
All players collecting any kind of coin on this roster are essential parts of the rotation. Outside of stacking a handful of minimum contracts together—a logistical nightmare for Boston’s hypothetical trade partner—the Celtics can’t make the money work on any sizable deal.
Their only real tool is the $6.2 million trade exception from the Grant Williams sign-and-trade, though using it entirely would substantially increase the Celtics’ tax bill. That wouldn’t necessarily preclude a deal, but the franchise probably isn’t keen on taking a big tax hit for someone who may not see any meaningful action in the postseason.
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Filling out this section is like gift-shopping for your friend who has everything. Sure, you could probably come up with something if you really rack your brain, but nothing obvious comes to mind because nothing is obviously needed.
Could the Celtics seek out more depth at center? You’d have to think it’s something they’re at least talking about. After all, we’re among the many who’ve discussed the situation all season, as it’s impossible not to notice what could go wrong at the position given Kristaps Porziņģis’ injury history and the fact Al Horford is closer to his 38th birthday than his 37th.
Then again, Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta have been more than capable when called upon. And if Porziņģis and Horford can stay upright, a new backup big man almost certainly wouldn’t see the court outside of emergency situations come playoff time. If the Celtics want another insurance policy for that, they can always wait and see what the buyout market has to offer.
Boston could use another forward with size who contributes at both ends of the floor. It’s essentially the role Grant Williams formerly filled and no one has ever fully stepped into. It’s not a major role, though, as most wing minutes will go to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Sam Hauser, and there’s always a chance someone like Oshae Brissett proves capable of filling any cracks left behind.
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Assuming a clean bill of health, Boston’s playoff rotation likely will no look different after the deadline than it does right now.
The Celtics simply don’t have the funds to reel in a player capable of cracking their top seven. Even bumping Payton Pritchard down a spot is probably too great of a challenge for anyone who falls within the franchise’s price range.
That doesn’t mean Boston will stand pat, though. Teams this close to the title should leave nothing to chance, and the Celtics don’t need to. Not when they have that trade exception, an open roster spot and enough draft picks to get calls back from anyone.
They seem more likely to target a wing than a big—though a center could be targeted on the buyout market—and players like Cedi Osman and John Konchar could make tons of sense for this team. If Boston gets a deal done by the deadline, look for a pickup of this variety.