Once again, the NBA's trade deadline is quickly approaching. As a sports fan, NBA trade season is always something to look forward to, and this year is no different. We will likely see a few big names moved in the coming days as teams look to blow it up or add pieces as they attempt to make a run at a title.
This year, as Boston Celtics fans, we have even more reason than the average fan to be excited for trade season. Danny Ainge and the Boston front office have stockpiled assets over the past couple of years and the team very well could make a big move before the deadline. Quite a few names have been floated around, but which guy should Celtics fan want? Here are our thoughts in a special NBA trade deadline roundtable.
Al Horford, C, Atlanta Hawks:
According to multiple reports, the Celtics are extremely interested in trying to acquiring Al Horford before the February 18th Trade Deadline. Horford, who is a free agent after this season, will be 30 at the start of next season and will likely command a max contract. While he is not a franchise-altering center, if Horford is traded, he will immediately make an impact on that team. The Celtics are in desperate need of an old-school center that can provide rebounding and interior defense.
If the Celtics are able to grab Horford without giving up too much, he would be a fantastic rental player that could propel the Celtics into the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics may want more than Horford if they have to deal two picks, but this seems like a relatively fair trade for both sides. David Lee will finally get some minutes, and the Celtics can get a great center without having to deal the 2016 Brooklyn pick.
Celtics: Al Horford
Atlanta: 2016 Dallas 1st Round Pick (Top 7 protected), 2016 Celtics 1st Round Pick, and David Lee
Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets:
Since Dwight Howard departed from the Los Angeles Lakers and signed a massive contract with the Houston Rockets, he has been relatively quiet deep in the heart of Texas. While he has been called a selfish player, and even a cancer to a NBA locker room, there is no denying this guy's talent, and, at the age of 30, he still has a lot of basketball left.. Nonetheless, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Houston Rockets have begun contacting teams and gauging their interest on the eight-time All-Star. With a player option for the 2016-2017 season, Howard could opt out and command a max contract, similar to Al Horford.
However, unlike Al Horford, the Rockets seem fed up with their superstar center. If Houston is motivated to trade Howard, and the price does not include the Brooklyn picks, then this option should be a no-brainer. While reports earlier this week said the asking price for Howard was "too steep," if there are no bites on him, the price could come down and we could see a deal swung in the final minutes of the February 18th Trade Deadline.
Celtics: Dwight Howard
Rockets: David Lee, 1st Round Pick (Dallas or Boston)
Potential Target: Al Horford, PF/C, Atlanta Hawks
I talked about several of these bigger names a few weeks back here.
The guy I’d like to further discuss now is Al Horford. The 6’10, 245 pound big from Atlanta is averaging 15 (points) and 7 (boards) per game this year and has been a model of consistency for the duration of his 9-year career with the Atlanta Hawks. Big Al is strong defensively, solid on the glass, and can score in a number of ways. I’d prefer Horford to Dwight Howard for a number of reasons. One, he’s a year younger (30 in June) and more of a known locker room commodity (read: not a coach killer). Two, he’s been healthier this year and has range all the way outside the 3-point line (34%), which we all know Brad Stevens values significantly. Howard, while undoubtedly an upgrade over the current big men on the roster, especially defensively, carries far more risk and is more likely to rock the boat than Horford would be.
Now, to be clear, each one of these potential trade targets comes with an asterisk. It all depends on what Danny Ainge would have to part with. I would absolutely not want to part with Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, or the Brooklyn pick(s). Horford’s contract expires after the season, and in all likelihood, will be yearning a max deal next summer. Is he worth it? With tunnel vision, maybe not. He’s a little older and not one of the top 10-15 players in the league, but with core young players under bargain contracts for the near future like the aforementioned three, I wouldn’t be opposed to throwing the bank at him. Does something like Olynyk, James Young, D Lee, Dallas’ first rounder, and our own first for Horford and sharpshooter Kyle Korver work? Who says no? I certainly wouldn’t. A move like this would move the needle enough to threaten Cleveland in the East this season and not mortgage the future whatsoever. Sign. Me. Up.
There is really only one need that the Celtics have. And that is a great post defender. We've heard names jump around like Al Horford, and Dwight Howard. But I'm going to go and say a name that I haven't heard the C's have ties to, and that is Hassan Whiteside. The dude can really defend the basketball. He is averaging close to 4 blocks a game and is a triple-double machine for points, boards, and blocks. The only negative is he's a little emotional and gets ejected often, leading to his name being put out there for a potential trade. I see a guy that is a championship defender and he's clearly passionate. Just keep him cool, and go for Hassan.
Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets
If the Celtics can only acquire one of the names that have been rumored over the previous weeks it's Dwight Howard, and for me, it isn't even close. Once upon a time, Dwight Howard was arguably more valuable to his team than even LeBron James.That hasn't been the case for about four years now, but Howard is still an outstanding player. He is one of the best defensive centers in the league, and with the Celtics lacking defense down low, he makes all the sense in the world.
There are a couple of concerns with Howard, as he is somewhat injury prone and can be selfish away from the court at times. But if the Celtics are to make a push at the a championship, they need an impact player, and Howard could be that guy.