The Boston Celtics continue to be intertwined in trade talks ahead of March 25th’s deadline. Sitting at .500 with just six games remaining until the All-Star break, many expect “Trader Danny” to be in full effect over the next month as the season looks to be on the verge of slipping away from the once-perceived title contenders.
One of Boston’s most glaring holes on their roster is in their frontcourt. Offseason free-agent acquisition Tristan Thompson, while better as of late, has failed to live up to expectations since arriving in Massachusetts. Robert Williams has impressed but is still handicapped by the team’s reluctance to hand him big minutes.
Then there’s Daniel Theis.
The Celtics’ big leads the team in total blocks with 84. Plus, his shooting ability from deep (38.7% 3-point percentage) makes him a serviceable floor-spacer in Boston’s offense. In fact, as recently as just a few games ago, Theis was one of just three players (including Nikola Jokic and Christian Woods) to be shooting 55% from the field and 40% from three.
Yet, despite the bright spots in Theis’ game, the position as a whole is stunted in terms of upside. In return, the 28-year-old is widely considered expendable if Boston were presented with the right deal…and Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes may have just stumbled upon one.
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Celtics Land Nikola Vucevic in 3-Team Trade Proposal
Surprise, surprise, the Celtics are once again linked to Orlando Magic’s center Nikola Vucevic. As part of Hughes’ four blockbuster trades that would “blow up the 2021 deadline,” the 2019 All-Star selection makes his way to Boston as part of a three-team deal that also includes the New York Knicks, a number of draft picks and Daniel Theis being shipped out of town.
Here’s the proposed trade in its entirety:
Boston Celtics Receive:
- Nikola Vucevic
- 2023 second-round pick (top-40 protected via New York Knicks)
Orlando Magic Receive:
- 2023 first-round pick
- 2025 first-round pick (unprotected via Boston Celtics)
New York Knicks Receive:
While Hughes notes that there are other potential ways to get Vooch to Boston, he believes this proposal is by far “the cleanest.” The B/R columnist envisions the star big-man as a massive offensive boost to further expand the Celtics’ odds of appearing in meaningful games deep into the postseason. Furthermore, moving off of Theis (and potentially Tristan Thompson) would free up added minutes for Robert Williams as the team’s primary reserve big.
Theis is a quality big man, but Vucevic would obviously be the starter in Boston, and Robert Williams III should get the backup minutes. Grant Williams still gives the Celtics a small-ball 5 option, so Theis is expendable. Tristan Thompson should probably be atop Boston’s list of trade candidates, as well. He’s been a disappointment.
Big picture, Boston needs a jolt. It’s 15-15 and owns a ho-hum offense that continues to stagnate in the clutch. Throw Vucevic in there and suddenly Boston would have a stretch option who can also work as a hub at the elbows. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown would have several new and exciting late-game scoring avenues with a true All-Star-level offensive weapon at the 5.
Boston would run into defensive issues against the best teams in the playoffs, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If the Celtics want to play meaningful games deep into the postseason, they’ve got to get themselves in a better position right now. That’ll require an offensive boost, and Vucevic would provide it in a big way.
Orlando Reluctant to Trade Vucevic?
The 30-year-old center is in the midst of a monster season. The 6-foot-11-inch USC product is averaging a career-high 24.1 ppg to go along with 11.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Furthermore, his 40.3% shooting from beyond the arc marks a personal best over his 10-year NBA career, a number that likely has Danny Ainge salivating.
Moving off of such production would certainly give any team pause, as is reportedly the case with Orlando. According to The Ringer’s
With that said, Orlando currently sits in 12th-place in the Eastern Conference, while two of their top young talents in Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac have been ravaged by injury. Simply put, as things sit today, the Magic are not a playoff contender with
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