The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m., and the Boston Celtics – solidly in third place in the Eastern Conference – are looking to bolster their roster.
Boston is in a position of strength. The C’s have three first-round picks in the 2016 NBA Draft, including one that is expected to be quite high (the team owns the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected first-rounder; the Nets currently have the third-worst record in the NBA).
(Note: The Celtics also have a fourth first-rounder from Minnesota, but the pick is protected and will likely turn into a second-rounder.)
Those pieces, plus several young and high-upside stars and an expiring contract (David Lee) affords Boston several trade chips. And several high-profile names are being tossed around.
What’s the likelihood that one of these players could move? Here are just a few discussed names:
Kevin Love, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers: Another year, another round of trade rumors for Love. Though the big man has played better of late, he’s still clearly not as comfortable in LeBron James’ offense as he was as a No. 1 option.
Cleveland, the prohibitive favorite to win the East at the moment, has to be looking at Golden State in the West and wondering if they have the firepower to compete in a 7-game series. With that in mind, any option Cleveland could get to upgrade and bring in another star for a stretch run has to be considered. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely these scenarios include the Celtics.
Brook Lopez, C, Brooklyn Nets: With the Nets faltering and with Boston owning Brooklyn’s next three years of draft picks (Boston can swap picks with the Nets in 2017), Brooklyn is a team in desperate need of a rebuild but with no picks to show for it
Lopez is averaging more than 20 points and 8 rebounds per game and the Celtics need an established low-post player. But don’t expect this to happen; there’s little chance the Nets help out the Celtics again after the last lopsided deal.
Al Horford, C, Atlanta Hawks: Talks have swirled around several of Atlanta’s premier players. The Hawks sit fourth in the Eastern Conference despite winning the conference going away last season but suffering a disappointing loss to Cleveland in the East finals, and now there are indications it might be time to blow up the core and start fresh
Despite the prevailing rumors, this is one of those pie-in-the-sky ideas that a GM will kick around but never actually follow through with. Don’t expect Horford to get moved unless a massive offer comes along.
Pau Gasol, F, Chicago Bulls: Gasol, who is likely to reject an option year and become a free agent at the end of this season, is reportedly being shopped by Chicago GM Gar Forman. It’s another player who would dramatically improve the Celtics’ frontcourt, but it would be a temporary solution unless the Celtics wanted to pay the 35-year-old.
Carmelo Anthony, F, New York Knicks: By this point, it’s pretty clear that either the Knicks can’t win with Melo, or Melo can’t win as the No. 1 option. Either way, the Knicks appear to be looking for some new options. And while Carmelo’s scoring is attractive, it’s doubtful this is the piece the Celtics would be looking to add in a big playoff push.
Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers: Griffin was recently suspended for reportedly punching a team employee, adding literal insult to injury – Griffin broke his hand in the incident.
The incident has led some to question whether Griffin’s time in Los Angeles is wearing thin, but even still, a trade is unlikely until at least the offseason. Los Angeles has explored moving him, and Boston likely has the pieces to make this happen if they made LA a massive offer, but it’s pretty unlikely.
Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets: Houston is having a bad season by any measure, and Howard can opt out of his contract at the end of the year. Expect him to get moved. But any team that moves him is almost certainly getting a rental. At age 30, Howard isn’t the player he once was – though still a bona fide star – and the Celtics would be hesitant to overpay for a half-season of Howard.
James Harden, G, Houston Rockets: Another name that has been swirling in recent days, the Rockets could start an overhaul of the roster by putting up their franchise guard for a king’s ransom – and someone might pay it.
But consider the source – if Houston is willing to part with Harden – a legitimate superstar – what do they know that the rest of the league may not? Still, a player of that talent level is likely worth the risk for Boston.
Greg Monroe, C, Milwaukee Bucks: Third-to-last in the East, Milwaukee is one of the league’s bigger disappointments. Though Monroe just signed a contract and has played well, the Bucks don’t seem to be finding the best ways to utilize the big man, who’s averaging 16.7 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.
If he’s truly available, this would be a great target for the Celtics. The Bucks are rumored to be quietly shopping Jabari Parker as well, who was a highly touted No. 2 overall pick just two years ago. If that’s true, the Bucks may be having a bit of an identity crisis, and the Celtics could take advantage.
Danilo Gallinari, PF, Denver Nuggets: Keep an eye on this rumor. Gallinari is a box score filler who can do a little bit of everything. And despite a rumor that the Nuggets turned the Clippers down in a potential deal involving Blake Griffin, there’s still a chance the Celtics could entice the Nuggets here.
Kevin Durant, F, Oklahoma City Thunder: Consider the following scenario – the Thunder are comfortably in third in a two-team race in the West. They’d need to go through both San Antonio and Golden State in the postseason. Durant, a free agent at the end of this season, could walk. Could the Thunder swing a deal and get something in return for their franchise player?
(Hint: No. There’s almost no chance this happens.)
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