The Boston Celtics are the envy of every team at the NBA trade deadline.
With a stockpile of young assets at their disposal, it’s no wonder the C’s have been rumored in some of the biggest deals of the season. Jimmy Butler and Paul George are just a few of the names that have been linked to Boston in recent trade rumors, and the C’s would be wise to pair another star player with Isaiah Thomas if they plan on going deep in the playoffs.
Here are five moves the Celtics could make before the trade deadline.
Acquire Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic
This is not a flashy deal by any means, but Vucevic is the type of player the Celtics need right now. Boston is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, and Vucevic, a seven-foot center for the Orlando Magic, is averaging 10.0 rebounds to go along with 13.9 points per game.
CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely reported last month that Boston has reached out to Orlando about a potential deal for Vucevic. The Magic dealt Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors earlier in the week and Vucevic could be next to join a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Acquire Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers
It’s no secret that Philadelphia has a surplus of bigs, leading many to believe that either Jahlil Okafor or Noel will be moved before the trade deadline. Boston might be inclined to trade for the latter because of his rebounding and shot-blocking.
Noel, 22, has averaged 10.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in parts of three seasons for the Sixers. He fits what the C’s are looking for in a frontcourt player and hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential. Acquiring Noel would be a good move in the short term and in the long term as well.
Acquire Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks
If it’s a scorer the Celtics are after, then Anthony makes a lot of sense for them. Even after all these years, the 32-year-old forward is still going strong with 23.4 points per game this season. Adding Anthony to the mix would give Boston two legitimate scoring threats, forcing opposing teams to choose between putting there best perimeter defender on the 10-time All-Star or Thomas who is averaging just under 30 points per game. It’s pick your poison in that scenario.
To be clear, the C’s have shown minimal interest in Anthony. But if they strike out in their pursuit for younger stars like Butler or George, then Anthony might be the Celtics’ best bet before the trade deadline.
Acquire Paul George from the Indiana Pacers
In addition to being a well-rounded scorer, George is also one of the better perimeter defenders in the game. If he came to Boston in a trade, he’d give the Celtics another superstar player while satisfying the team’s needs for a scorer and defensive-stopper.
The problem is: Indiana wants to keep George who has two years left on his contract after this season. That the Pacers would trade away the franchise player in the midst of a playoff run is highly unlikely, but crazier things have happened. The Celtics have a lot to tempt teams with, especially those two first-round picks from the Brooklyn Nets.
Acquire Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls
The Bulls and Celtics discussed a Butler deal last summer, but Chicago wasn’t ready to pull the trigger on a trade involving the franchise player. Rival executives believe Chicago and Boston could revisit trade talks for the three-time All-Star, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Like George, Butler is a top-flight defender with the ability to score in bunches. In fact, the 27-year-old forward ranks 12th in scoring with 24.5 points per game, and he dropped a season-high 52 points in a game last month. Combine that with what Thomas gives you on a nightly basis and the Celtics may have found the final piece to the puzzle.
Of course, trading for Butler is likely going to cost Boston big time. But if it means getting past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, then it will be worth it in the end.