The Boston Celtics are steadily creeping behind looking to steal the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference. Only three games behind, that 1st seed is at arm’s length. Cleveland is dealing with major injuries with Kevin Love out for about 6 weeks and J.R. Smith still looking to make his return. Rest is necessary for LeBron James during the second half of the season which opens the door for that number one spot.
Even in the event that the Boston Celtics can attain the 1st seed, I still don’t believe they have what it takes to overcome LeBron and the Cavaliers. They have Isaiah Thomas who’s taking the league by storm and his counterpart, Al Horford but that’s not enough to get the task done. They’re amongst the best when it comes to the offensive side of the ball but when it comes to defense, that’s where they struggle heavily. I believe they could really benefit from the likes of another star who can improve their team on both sides of the ball and there are two names that stick out like a sore thumb.
Jimmy Butler and Paul George are two names that could immediately impact this team. These are two guys who are stars in their own right and also add that defensive element that could cause problems for their opponents. The Chicago Bulls roster hasn’t panned out like they wished it would and the Indiana Pacers have been inconsistent. So inconsistent that it has been reported that George is hesitant about signing an extension with the Pacers due to his desire to win. Either George or Butler would give the Celtics more firepower on the offensive end and make them a bigger threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Danny’s let it be known that he’s willing to talk about the Nets’ picks,” said one league executive, referencing the first-rounders owed by Brooklyn this year (in a swap of first-round positions between the Celts and Nets) and next (unencumbered). “But you want one of those guys, you have to be willing to give up a star.”
And, apparently, a star who can’t break free this summer or after a year. Ainge has said he doesn’t want to take on any rentals, and opposing front offices are supporting that statement, with a caveat. The Celts will take a shot on a short-term player if the price is right, but that has not yet been the case. The C’s did investigate the Serge Ibaka situation, but word is they didn’t want to give up a lot when there is no guarantee they’d be willing to meet his price when he becomes a free agent this offseason.
With the Brooklyn Nets having the worst record in the NBA, the probability of those picks being a top of the draft are very high. Ainge has the pieces to accrue a superstar like Paul George or Jimmy Butler. Whether he wants to pull the trigger is up to him but I don’t envision either of those teams being unwilling to part ways with their players for a possible #1 pick. If Danny Ainge wants to make a serious run at the championship this season then this is the trade to make it happen.