After a disappointing season so far, the Celtics are reportedly very active in the commercial market as Brad Stevens approaches his first deadline.
The extra activity makes sense: With more than half of the season behind them, the Celtics are still hovering around 0.500 and have been pretty inconsistent. So who might be on the move? Here’s a closer look at everyone on the list.
bypass5 years to $195 million (player option 2025-26)
Trade Status: Ongoing business speculation should nibble at Tatum and Brown, and perhaps the huge change will help. Tatum is sure to bring back a big name, and perhaps the Celtics team built around Jaylene Brown and Robert Williams and whoever they got in exchange for Tatum will be – at least – interesting.
The case against: Jason Tatum is a 23-year-old striker capable of scoring 50-60 points in any game on any night. He has a 3-point relegation season, and is still averaging 25.8 points per game (imagine how we’d talk about him if he was making 3-pointers like last year).
At the core of the Celtics’ team ethos is the desire to compete for championships, and competing for championships requires an outstanding player. Jayson Tatum is on his way to true stardom, and you can’t handle that kind of talent at the age of 23 in a speculative move.
What do we think? Naturally, the Celtics won’t be trading Jayson Tatum on the deadline or in the near future.
bypassFour years: $106 million (free agent in 2024).
Trade Status: How seriously do the Celtics want to move the pieces? Getting a star won’t be cheap, and Brown will dump some interesting names throughout the league.
The case against: It looks like the Celtics’ grand plan is to create three new big companies, and Brown is sure good enough to be included in that grand plan. The stars are hard to come by, and the Celtics already have two of them.
What do we think? The Celtics keep broadcasting that they don’t want to trade Brown, and they shouldn’t. He is not only a superstar, but finding a fair value in a deal for a 25-year-old winger with a very amicable contract won’t be easy.
Brown is getting better every year, and he’s more than able to climb the farther Tatum gets out. The Celtics should make more moves around the margins – both in player and staff – before they give up trying to maximize the two.
bypass: Four years, $76 million (starts next season).
Trade Status: Again, if the Celtics want to get serious about talent acquisition, talent will have to be fired. Smart will attract a lot of attention at the league level – the All-Defense First Team awards are a key selling point, and he’s a proven playmaker.
The case against: The Celtics do 7.3 points per 100 possessions best with Smart on the floor and he has collapsed at times in games when he’s injured or sick.
What do we think? This seems like one of the most likely ways. Smart will return the value. Smart plus picks will bring more, especially as the Celtics team hovers around the lottery.
However, the Celtics haven’t proven they can consistently play well without Smart, so in any potential deal, they’ll need to make sure they have the requisite playmaking to complete their Superstars. They may miss his defense and the game industry more than they think.
bypass4 years: $48 million (starts next season)
Trade Status: There isn’t much here, unless a star is available (and even then, there’s a case to be made to try and hold on). The best case we can make is that Williams will have great commercial value, and possibly a chance to sell at a high price.
The case against: Williams is an incredible athlete who is rapidly growing into his abilities in a larger role. What’s more, he’s on a very friendly deal with the team, and he negates the need to pursue a quality position initially for the next four years.
What do we think? Don’t bet Williams is going anywhere. It is of great value in the short and long term.
bypass: Four years, $109 million (this year and the year after, and next year partially guaranteed $14.5 million)
Trade Status: Horford has been struggling from the depths this season, and the Celtics clearly have the center of the future at Williams. Horford’s contract is big enough to open some salary-matching doors, and his partial guarantee next season could be especially friendly.
The case against: While Horford’s salary may be worth matching, it’s also huge: He’s set to make up to $27 million this season. Meanwhile, Williams was healthy by his standards and still missed 11 of his first 48 games. Are the Celtics really ready to give up their insurance policy?
What do we think? Horford’s trade wouldn’t be a disaster, but it might be best to offer the Celtics waiting for the season to come when bigger names become available. At this point, the matching salary/partial guarantee/expiring contract can turn Horford into a real asset.
bypass: One year $5.9 million
Trade Status: This one is pretty simple: Schroeder sees himself as a novice, and it’s hard to argue based on his stats. There’s almost no chance of him being re-signed next season, and almost no chance of a title challenge this season, so dealing with Schroeder gives them a chance of reclaiming an asset for a player who is almost certain to be gone by October.
The case against: Schröder offers dynamic ball control and Celtics goal scoring that really doesn’t go anywhere else. If they swing a deal for Smart instead, keeping Schroeder for now might be wise: a starting lineup with Schroeder instead of Smart blots out opponents by 19.3 points per 100 possessions.
What do we think? Trading a Smart or Schröder device seems reasonable, so it may be up to Stevens’ preference.
bypass: $11.6 million ends this season, followed by a one-year extension of $12.2 million
Trade Status: Like Schroeder, Richardson likely won’t be part of the long-term plan, and is having a good season. Its trading now could be a sell-off given the volatility in the 3-point shooting over the years, which is currently 39.8 percent.
The case against: see above. Richardson is having a good season, a productive goalkeeper who defends and catches the ball. How will the Celtics balance their short-term desire to win with their long-term desire to build a competition?
What do we think? Richardson’s trading appears counter-productive. He doesn’t have a lot of upsides at this point, so teams are unlikely to overpay. What’s more, unlike Schroeder, he will be around next season. If you’re betting on one or the other, Schroeder will feel more likely to be dealt with.
bypass: Third year of a rookie deal, extendable beyond this season
Trade Status: Is Williams really a 42.4 percent of a 3-point shooter? Could this be a moment to sell at a high price?
The case against: Williams could really be a 3-point pistol with a 42.4 percent score, and if so, he could be a highly valued player if he signs an extension to this junior’s off-season.
What do we think? The Celtics should take it lightly on Williams. In Grant’s case, he’s part of a few intriguing formations that have crushed opponents, and he offers reliable floor spacing that the Celtics don’t have anywhere else. If it will be traded, it will most likely be this summer As part of a big deal.
bypass: Third year of a rookie deal, extendable beyond this season
Trade Status: A team looking for a young winger with plenty of potential in almost every aspect of their game could do worse than look at Langford. His contract status gives teams a great deal of control, which they generally appreciate.
The case against: Langford is simply not of value as a trading chip at this point.
What do we think? If the Celtics’ commercial veterans are on the deadline, the hope is (most likely) to give Langford more opportunity to showcase himself rather than get rid of him.
bypass: The second year of a newbie deal.
Trade Status: There is not much. Maybe he likes and values the Nesmith team in pre-draft rehearsals?
The case against: Just like Langford, the value of the trade here isn’t that high, and the Celtics would probably want to take a better look at Nesmith themselves before moving on from him.
What do we think? Nesmith still has a shooting advantage, and he wrestles like crazy. He’s also a much better athlete than he showed in college. It might be best to introduce the Celtics to showcase, whether for their rotation or for opposing teams.
bypass: The second year of a newbie deal
Trade Status: If the Celtics wanted to deal with Pritchard, his trading window was right after the Summer League when he looked like a frontier player.
The case against: Pritchard’s lack of playing time supposedly affected the value of his trade, but he still had a lot of potential. Now is probably not the time.
What do we think? Pritchard – like Neismith and Langford – need to show a lot in either direction before the Celtics make a decision about his future.
bypass: A one-year contract of $1.7 million
Trade Status: Center turnover is crowded. Freedom also no longer offers the same level of defense against Joel Embiid – the Sixers star is simply too good at this point.
The case against: Freedom does not take up much space, and offers some insult in certain scenarios.
What do we think? We have come to the part of the list where players will be salary fillers in a deal. However, don’t bet on Freedom trading: No matter how you feel about the message, his out-of-court activity is complicated for the teams that hire him.
bypass: 1 year 1.8 million dollars
Trade Status: There is no strong person.
The case against: There is no strong person.
What do we think? If Fernando is dealt, you can bet the Celtics need $1 million to $1 million to seal the deal.
bypass: 1 year $2.1 million
Trade Status: Perhaps the team is a firm believer in Paul.
The case against: The Celtics have Paul’s restricted free agent rights at the end of the season, and they just acquired him citing his interesting rise.
What do we think? No.
bypass: 1 year $1.9 million
Trade Status: The team is probably a firm believer in PJ Dozier.
The case against: The Celtics have the rights to Dozier’s bird at the end of the season, and they just got hold of it.
What do we think? No.
Broderick Thomas, Sam Hauser
bypass: two way
What do we think? In theory, you could trade a two-way player but why bother when you can simply cut it out and sign another player at any time? Two-way players make good money, but they are in a precarious place.
The guesswork here is that one or more Smart, Schröder and Richardson are being tackled in a move to make playtime for younger players, and the Celtics begin preparing for a busy summer. In any case, we can expect a lot of rumors – and maybe even some action – over the next couple of weeks.
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