• Cameron Tabatabaie

Trade Deadline Marathon: Day 2.66

The Celtics are doing just fine. Yes, the team has underachieved a bit this season, and yes, Boston’s path to the Finals is murkier than we once imagined. But buy and large, this team is right about where they should be. Head coach Brad Stevens certainly thinks so.

The buck doesn’t stop with Brad Stevens, however. President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge ultimately decides the fate of the Celtics roster. And Ainge is as patient as he is crafty.

I think Boston would be wise to stand pat and not make any moves this year. Players like Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown are getting more comfortable by the day, and injuries have prevented the C’s from dealing with a fully deck. All told, I’m - mostly - against the above trade.

That said, I think there are a few reasons Boston could make a move. In that case, Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic is the perfect get.

The Celtics offense is beginning to emerge into something rather potent. The team has cracked the top-10 in offensive rating, and over its last 15 games posted a blistering 115.5 OFFRTG, the second highest mark in that time. The defense meanwhile remains elite, Boston’s rim protection leaves much to be desired.

It wouldn’t be crazy for Boston to lean into the possibility of being an offensive powerhouse. Vucevic, who is having a career year, has incredible prowess scoring the ball. Bringing him into the fold would be doubling-down on the Celtics new offensive strength (while essentially abandoning it’s interior defense).

Boston hasn’t had much success playing small. As such, Stevens has staggered minutes for his guards and wings pretty nicely. There could be room in the starting lineup for Vucevic. Afterall, Al Horford has many times stated that he prefers to play the four.

Likewise, Vucevic could easily join Boston’s dangerous second unit. Second-year center Daniel Theis has been serviceable this season, but Vooch would be a major upgrade. Already the Celtics bench is the envy of the league.

Aron Baynes gives Boston an otherwise lacking edge in the paint. Swapping him for Vucevic would all end any chance for any formidable interior defense for the C’s; this is decidedly not one of Vucevic’s strong-suits. However the offensive upgrade could be a game-changer in a particularly packed Eastern Conference.

Losing Terry Rozier would also be a major sting. Boston would need to find a way to bring in a replacement point guard, either by trade or via the buy-out market. A veteran like JJ Barea would be a great leader for the Celtics second unit.

There’s a pretty simple “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” way to understand this Celtics team. Again, the transgressions we saw in November shouldn’t condemn the team to failure in May and June. Nothing is forever in the NBA, however, and this team is within striking distance of an NBA title. A win-now move for the C’s like this could turn the tide for a team anxious to raise another championship banner.

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