With the passing of the NBA Draft and the Boston Celtics selecting their picks rather than Danny Ainge making a blockbuster deal, we have to wait and see what the rest of the Celtics off-season will look like.
The Celtics drafted Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the 3rd overall pick they acquired after trading down in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. All the talks the Celtics had been in with the Indiana Pacers for superstar Paul George did not amount to anything during draft night, and the Celtics took the guy Ainge said they wanted all along in Tatum.
Trade talks have picked back up however, as Adam Kaufman of WBZ News Radio Boston reported the Celtics latest offer to the Pacers consisted of the LAL/SAC pick from the 76ers deal along with MEM or LAC 2019 pick and Jae Crowder and money fillers in the deal as well (maybe Avery Bradley or Tyler Zeller). Nothing is happening as of now, the Celtics are holding out on making a deal because they want to wait and make sure they can sign Gordon Hayward before attempting to create a “super team” with George as well. This is the right thing to do because if Hayward doesn’t sign with Boston, trading away this big of a package to Indiana for George, who would potentially only be with the Celtics for one year before choosing to opt out of his contract and move to LA to join the Lakers, like he’s said he intends on doing.
I don’t think Danny Ainge would trade this much for George if he’ll only be in Boston for one year. I believe Ainge would only deal for George if he knows he can lock him down for an extension. Signing Hayward would only help persuade George to stay in Boston for the future. If the Celtics somehow don’t end up signing Hayward, another free agent who has expressed interest in Boston is Blake Griffin. Griffin recently put the city of Boston on his Mount Rushmore of NBA cities while on Pardon My Take. It just goes to show that he thinks Boston is a great basketball town and if he thinks that, hey, maybe he’ll take his talents to Boston.
I think it would make more sense for the Celtics to sign Griffin if they are going to trade for George because invest so much into the SF position with George, Hayward, Tatum and Jaylen Brown. I think Tatum’s potential is through the roof. Watching him play at Duke all basketball season, I saw Tatum improve in every game he played. You could see his development continue to grow game by game and his scoring ability is insane. I see a lot of Paul Pierce when I watch Tatum play, I know that’s a lot of praise to give someone with no games played in the NBA, but he draws comparisons to the Celtics legend. Signing Hayward would leave the Celtics too crowded at the 3 and all four of those players mentioned would need to get their minutes. Hayward could play SG I guess, but is he capable of guarding opposing 2’s as well as helping Isaiah Thomas guard point guards? It’s also possible the Celtics go complete small ball with IT, Marcus Smart, Hayward, PG13 and Al Horford.
I think Griffin is a much better overall player than Hayward and he’ll provide one thing the Celtics desperately need.. rebounding. But something Hayward has over Griffin is his health. Blake has missed a lot of time over the course of his NBA career with injuries, the latest being a foot injury that removed him from the playoffs this year. When the Celtics are in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, they’ll need all their players on the court and contributing, and that’s where Hayward has the edge on Griffin. Hayward is clearly the Celtics #1 priority heading into free agency, but if he does not work out, Griffin is another intriguing option.
If the Celtics do end up trading for Paul George and signing Gordon Hayward, it looks like they’d likely lose: Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson. George and Hayward would cost the Celtics a lot of cap space, making it impossible to keep some of the guys included above, and maybe
If these moves happen, the Celtics roster could look like: IT, Smart, PG, Hayward, Horford, Tatum, Brown, Terry Rozier, Ante Zizic, Jonas Jerebko, Gerald Green and possibly 2nd-round draft pick Semi Ojeleye. This team would be still in need of a true center. Zizic is 6’11” with a lot of potential, as he was a 1st-round pick by the Celtics last year, but who knows how much playing time he’d actually receive, that is if the Celtics even purchase his contract this year. Rebounding and rim protection showed to be a major liability for the Celtics last year, so I’d like to see them somehow get a big man.
With a lot of possibilities looming around the Boston Celtics this off-season, I’m anxious to see what moves get made because if nothing happens, I know there will be a lot of disappointment around Boston’s fanbase after hearing all these rumors.