The Boston Celtics enter the 2017 NBA offseason loaded with tradable assets. They already swapped first-round picks with the Philadelphia 76ers and acquired another future draft pick in return. With potentially seven first-round picks through 2020, the Celtics won’t have enough space on the roster to keep all of those picks. It’s time for Danny Ainge to bring the Celtics to that next step. He needs to make a trade now because some assets are already losing value.
Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz
Derrick Favors enters the offseason knowing his career in Utah could be over. With the NBA teams transitioning to small-ball lineups, a Favors and Rudy Gobert front court can’t space the floor enough to score alongside the NBA’s elite. Favors is also an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and the Jazz need the cap flexibility to keep Dante Exum, Gordon Hayward, and Rodney Hood. That leaves Favors as a likely trade candidate and Danny Ainge has no reason to not have interest.
Favors was the model of consistent improvement his first five NBA seasons. After that, he plateaued around the 16 point and eight rebound mark. Last season he averaged 9.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. That was his lowest average in both categories since becoming a regular starter on the Jazz. Sore knees and Gobert’s increased production led to the decline in numbers.
Favors, with two healthy knees, is the exact center the Celtics need. He’s got the size to match up with opposing bigs and gives Al Horford the ability to space the floor. With free agency next offseason, he’ll have to prove it to the rest of the league he’s worth max money. This helps the Celtics win now and not have to worry about a second large contract. It also balances out the roster.
Acquiring Favors won’t be difficult because Utah will want draft picks. Since the Celtics are loaded with picks, they can swap future draft picks and not lose one from the Nets or Lakers/Kings. This gives the Jazz their best chance to keep Hayward. The Celtics and Miami Heat are their biggest threats to losing him.
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs have an interest in Chris Paul and need to free up cap space if they want to sign him. Pau Gasol declined his player option and will re-sign on a discounted contract. Tony Parker doesn’t plan on retiring and is owed over $15 million next season. That leaves Aldridge as a potential cap casualty.
Aldridge has shown a dip in productivity since signing in San Antonio. He went from averaging over 21 points in his final five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers to less than 18 in these last two. His field goal percentage was a career high in 2016 but dropped back to reality last season.
If Aldridge ended up in Boston he’d get more opportunities to increase his statistics. He’d be involved in the pick-and-roll offense and become the primary rebounder next to Al Horford. The only difference with Aldridge and Favors is that the Celtics would be taking on a $21 million contract. Aldridge has a player option next season worth $22 million.
The perfect return for Aldridge would be Jae Crowder. It gives the Spurs a versatile defender next to Kawhi Leonard to try to slow down the Golden State Warriors near unstoppable offense. With Crowder’s small contract through 2020, the Spurs can sign another star next offseason.
The Celtics need to trade Crowder while his value is high. Jaylen Brown is on the rise.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons enter the offseason with a miserable cap situation. They have nearly $90 million in guaranteed money distributed throughout the roster and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a restricted free agent. It’s either Caldwell-Pope or Andre Drummond. That’s a tough decision for Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower.
With the importance of wing production and foul shooting, Caldwell-Pope looks like the pick in Detroit. His first half production proved he can be their franchise scorer. He just needs to convince the Pistons his shoulders will be 100 percent healthy.
If the Celtics can acquire Drummond they’ll no longer have rebounding problems. He finished the 2016-2017 season second in rebounding behind Hassan Whiteside and finished first in offensive rebounds per game. Drummond also averaged 13.6 points per game and has missed only three games in four seasons. His only flaw is his horrific 38.6 percent free-throw shooting.
The foul shooting shouldn’t stop the Celtics from targeting Drummond. He’s only 23-years-old and has no durability issues. The Celtics will have to lose one of their top future first round picks to get the deal done. Don’t be surprised if Van Gundy also wants Marcus Smart.
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
Jimmy Butler to the Boston Celtics has been a rumor for over a year now. Don’t expect these rumors to stop.
These rumors are consistent because Butler is a perfect fit in Boston. Butler has the ability to guard opposing teams best scorers and take the offensive pressure off of Isaiah Thomas. He fits Brad Stevens physical scheme, and there aren’t many guards more physical than Butler. He also has chemistry with Jae Crowder from his days at Marquette.
If these two strike a deal, a top draft pick, future pick and Avery Bradley will be on their way to Chicago. Bradley and Rajon Rondo, who were former teammates in Boston, would torture opposing backcourts and dominate in transition. It would also give Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum, whoever they draft at three, a year to learn from Dwyane Wade.
It looks like the Cleveland Cavaliers are no longer seeking a Butler trade. That puts Danny Ainge in perfect position to strike a deal.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
Kristaps Porzingis isn’t getting the superstar treatment in New York. He skipped his exit meeting with Phil Jackson and no one in the organization has spoken to him since the end of the regular season. With the treatment of current star Carmelo Anthony and former star Charles Oakley, Porzingis finds himself on track to receive that same treatment. Phil Jackson wants to do what’s best for the franchise, so even considering trading Porzingis is in play.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 22, 2017
Porzingis is a 7’3″ power forward who shot 35 percent from three last season. He’s 21-years-old and already has been given comparisons to future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. His potential is through the roof and he’ll only get better. These players aren’t available often and it may be years before he ends up back on the market.
This gives the Celtics someone with size and five players who can shoot. Porzingis and Horford can play position-less in the front court and take the scoring pressure off of Isaiah Thomas. Most importantly, Porzingis is that young star the Celtics are looking for to build around when LeBron James’ career comes to an end.
This deal would result in the Celtics losing at least two top draft picks and a combination of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder. Danny Ainge needs to give up whatever it takes to acquire Porzingis. Even Thomas isn’t safe.