We’re just over three weeks away from the trade deadline, so let’s lay out how likely the Celtics are to make use of their players and assets this season. Boston will be looking for more athleticism on the wings and perhaps another all-round playmaker, so who could be resigned to making those changes?
The obvious candidate on this list, Pritchard has several reasons to welcome trading. He’s been just over a year away from restricted free agency and will turn 25 later this month. Jason Tatum will pass the midpoint of his second contract by the time Pritchard starts working, and Pritchard is about a month older than Tatum.
A good sign of an untenable situation in the NBA is when a role lags behind his rookie season, which happened to Pritchard more because of chance than ability. But he hasn’t advanced his game enough to get the market excited about his potential in a bigger role, especially considering he’ll be nearing his peak once he hits free agency.
The three guards ahead of him on the depth chart are on long-term deals and Sam Howser overall keeps both spots when coach Joe Mazzola deepens off the bench, so most of Pritchard’s minutes are open when there’s an injury. There are teams that have more space for him and feel he could grow into a rotational player with this opportunity.
As with Aaron Nesmith and Romeo Langford, perhaps Pritchard can show signs of realizing his potential with a steady role. This is the downside of being drafted to an opponent who can maneuver deals for veteran depth at the same time. This may be the best thing for both sides, as Pritchard and his colleagues make it clear that he deserves more opportunities elsewhere.
Verdict: It should be available.
Pritchard still has a year to go for testing, but the spotlight is on Grant Williams. He turned down the offer of a four-year preseason extension that would have guaranteed $48 million and come with additional incentives, aiming for somewhere in the $15-20 million range per year in restricted free agency.
But since Rob Williams’ return, Grant Williams’ game has been a hit. He hadn’t played more than 30 minutes for three weeks, stopped shutting down games, and his tempo was just off.
His 3-point percentage has fallen from 46.5 percent in the first 28 games of the season to 29.3 percent in the 15 games since Williams’ other return. But he’s been imposing it lately, becoming more aggressive on the edge and putting in big performances in wins against Dallas, Chicago and Brooklyn over the past two weeks.
Williams looked like he made a great gamble when the season started and his attacking game clearly transformed. But the consistency of the roles takes a toll on his market value, as most of the cap space this summer belongs to lottery teams trying to see if Williams can become their captain by rebuilding if they throw him a bag.
He has reason to be tackled, but the Celtics are in good shape for his free agency. Their main need at the moment is an athletic winger/forward depth, and while Williams may not have the height or dangerous vertical, he has proven to be one of the best 3’s and D players to come off the bench in the league. It’s hard to promote, especially given its long-term growth potential. He is 24 years old and has matching rights for the Celtics.
Al Horford is only making $10 million next season, so there’s room in their luxury tax bill to give Williams the cash he wants and possibly a starting spot. But Mazzola started Derrick White in place of Williams most of the time when there’s an opener, so re-signing Williams wouldn’t guarantee he’d be the starting four. It’s a tough place for both sides, but market conditions should allow them to do something this summer.
Verdict: The Celtics should listen, but not shop.
Brad Stephens has been daring in building a backcourt rotation of great combo guards, all of whom are good on both ends but have a weak point. The group has balanced itself really well and two of the three seem to be making an impact each night.
White and Malcolm Brogdon both have two years left on their deals. You don’t have to worry that they are about to be weak ducklings, and so far it has worked. Marcus Smart and White seem to play a bigger role in the team’s success and often shut out the night, but Brogdon has enough big matches to take over to explain why they want to keep him around when Tatum and Jaylen Brown inevitably hit a wall. Postseason.
This dynamic works and there is no reason to take it apart.
Verdict: Hold the fort unless something special comes up.
Horford just signed a two-year, $19.5 million extension last month.
The verdict: Why are you even asking?
While Griffin plays an actual role at times, he and Jackson are there primarily for the sentiment. This team has maintained a strong locker room culture and those two are at the center of it. Griffin is more effective because he works some matches and has a lot of veteran wisdom to pass, but either of them can be used in a trade.
Verdict: Cut potential trade matching.
Who would you even want to trade Tatum for at this point? The list is incredibly short. Either someone who recently won the MVP award or Luka Dončić. Could you even replace him with Steph Curry or LeBron James now? The Celtics have their dream player and he’s not going anywhere.
There is a hidden clause in the CBA that requires Brown to be in trade rumors every season. It’s a curse to be a star next to another who can reliably run the attack. It’s incredibly unlikely that anyone of Brown’s caliber will hit the market in the next month, and the Celtics have nowhere to sell the Browns for parts.
The only reason to move him now is if the front office believes he won’t make the All-NBA and would be seriously interested in leaving in unrestricted free agency in July 2024. If he makes the All-NBA, he’s eligible for a supermax deal that players rarely turn down. The concern is if he rejects it for any reason, the team knows it’s a flight risk and its commercial value in the market will take a huge hit.
The Celtics still have a financial advantage if they were to hit free agency, but it would still be a huge risk to lose a top-tier talent for nothing when other NBA players like Rudy Gobert and Dejounte Murray made a fortune. trade market.
This is Brown’s final oversold moment. But why sell Brown at such a premium if they don’t think he might leave? The Celtics have a real chance of winning the title this season, and it’s hard to imagine them having a better chance at the 18 pennant than now with Brown at the helm.
The verdict: Not going anywhere on the deadline. We’ll see this summer.
It was always more about availability than capacity with Burn Center in Boston. He’s basically making a mediocre exception for the next four seasons and will likely bring in twice that in the market, even with his injury history. The only reason to move him is if they can find another starting position, but Williams fits this team so well both on and off the field that his value to the Celtics is far greater than any other team – he’ll probably run into injury concerns anyway. .
The verdict: Keep developing Williams, but look out for potential pivots throughout next season.
Another shrewd move by the front office, Kornet was talked about for a few years as an undervalued player who the team wanted to keep. He’s shown his worth this year, reviving his NBA career with solid minutes and embracing what it’s like to be a Rob Williams role. Kornet Kontests alone deserves to keep him around, but he’s been a hard edge roller and groundbreaker this year while playing good defense at the edge. For the 13th guy on the list, he was exactly what they were hoping for this season.
The verdict: More of a contract, but obviously negotiable.
Hauser finally broke into the rotation this year, and it was about what you’d expect. A clever player on both ends who can do a thing or two that makes him minutes worth, just not enough to get real playing time when he’s not burying his shots.
Brad Stevens gave him a multi-year deal this summer because he believed in what he saw in practice and in Maine. Hauser started to get so hot that he had plenty of room to fall. He’ll be fine in the end and he won’t have enough value around the league yet to bring anything of value that reflects his potential as a rotation player.
The verdict: Not yet.
Although he could still provide value next season, this team is far enough from the tax that he’d probably prefer to use Gallinari rather than a trade exception if he struck a deal. He could be useful next season, but at his age and out with such a major injury, the Celtics will probably be trying to find someone else with a mid-taxpayer level.
The Celtics could use another big wing who can influence the game with his athleticism or ball skills, which should be Gallinari’s job.
Verdict: Potential trading piece.
Disabled player exception
When Gallinari went down for the year, the team earned $3.3 million in DPE because the offseason is expected. This could be used as a trade exception or free agent chip, allowing them to sign someone outside the buyout market for more than just the prorated minimum through March 10th.
The Celtics will have to pay a luxury tax on anyone they sign with more than the minimum this season, so they’re unlikely to throw as much as they can at someone who will be on the outskirts of the playoffs cycle. But then there’s the rolling player exception for Juancho Hernangomez’s (TPE) $6.9 million that expires Jan. 19 and Dennis Schröder’s $5.9 million TPE that runs through deadline day.
Schroeder’s TPE will likely be used, as Hernangomez’s TPE expires Thursday. Trades made early on are usually in order to settle the financial situation before the deadline, but the Celtics really started the process when they traded Noah Vonleh to San Antonio in the first week of the year.
The verdict: Save for the season of possession.
The ultimate trade rumor machine saved Celtic’s longest-kept last. The rough edges have eased his attacking game a little bit this year and he’s taken that next step as a dynamic playmaker. Smart isn’t a traditional guard who just runs the catch and runs high on the drive and kick game, but he packs in more variety than almost any of his peers in the position.
The Celtics have so perfectly calibrated his skill set that no one seems to care that he’s right at 33 percent at depths for the third straight season. Hey, at least it’s remarkably consistent. Smart won Defensive Player of the Year last season and is in the top 10 in the league in assists per game, yet he’s only earning $17.2 million in the first year of his extension. He wants to be a Celtic for life and there is no reason at this point to assume he won’t be.
Verdict: Love and Trust.
(Top photo: Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)