(Winslow Townson - USA Today Sports)
Hold on to your hats, Celtics fans, it is going to be a bumpy ride to the finish line that is the NBA Trade Deadline. The Celtics could look like a brand new team by the time the clock strikes 3 pm ET Thursday afternoon, or they could stick to their guns and let this roster march towards the playoffs on the off chance that they can knock off the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals, if they even make it that far.
In order for the Celtics to have a roster that could, on paper, give the Cavs a 7 game series, the Celtics are going to have to make some serious roster-altering changes before 3 pm tomorrow, or else it is back to the drawing board this summer. Now they have already missed out on acquiring the perfect fit, Demarcus Cousins, as he was dealt to the New Orleans Pelicans for basically nothing. To make matters worse, Danny Ainge never picked up the phone and called the Kings on the asking price for Boogie Cousins. A report that felt like a gunshot to the heart of Celtics fans across the country. But could the Celtics desire for Cousins, or lack there of, be the result of ongoing talks between 2 teams on a potential blockbuster 3-team deal that's flying completely under the radar?
These two teams I am talking about are the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons.
Now we've all been refreshing our social media timelines like crazy over the past few days, seeing reports that have proclaimed the Celtics have interest in Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Drummond, and (brb, puking) PJ Tucker. And I've seen countless times in the comments, fans saying the price is too high because said player won't put the Celtics over the hump.
Well, how about 2 of them?
Now this is definitely wishful thinking, but if there is a team in the NBA that can pull this deal off, it's the Celtics. They have the cap space, the assets, and the draft picks to entice the Pacers and Pistons into coming to an agreement on this 3-team deal.
Now what could this trade look like?
Pistons Get: Al Horford, Jeff Teague, Indiana's 2017 1st round pick, and Boston's 2017 2nd round pick
Pacers Get: Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Reggie Jackson, and the 2017 Celtics 1st round pick (via Brooklyn)
Celtics Get: Paul George, Andre Drummond, and a future 2nd round pick from IND or DET
The Pistons, in return for Andre Drummond, actually are getting some pretty solid pieces here. Now listen, I love Al Horford on the floor, in terms of his leadership, but he's been REALLY inconsistent this season. Could it be his first season in Boston jitters? Maybe. But one thing I've noticed in watching Al Horford this year, it's that he's really an average player making elite cash. He is a decent outside shooter, decent post player, above-average passer for a big, and a below average rebounder. But he does bring a winning dynamic to a team that hasn't been elite in years, in Detroit. They also get Jeff Teague, who was teammates with Horford in Atlanta for 7 seasons and has great chemistry with the big man from the Dominican Republic. The Pistons also get a couple draft picks of medium value, one from both teams.
The Pacers pretty much made it clear that PG isn't coming to Boston if this year's Brooklyn pick isn't included, so that's that. As far as the player return for the Pacers? Teague and Jackson are averaging .2 PPG apart, so offensively it isn't really much of a tradeoff, except in lieu of PG13, the Pacers need a guy who can create their own shot, and that favors Jackson over Teague. The Pacers are also getting Jae Crowder, who slides in and becomes the new SF in town, and under a team friendly contract, whereas Paul George would likely walk after next season. Amir Johnson, who is one of the most respected players in the NBA, would be a really good pickup and a nice mentor for Myles Turner, as he still is getting accustomed to the NBA life (albeit is having a really good season).
The Celtics are finally over the hump in the East. Have their 3 max players (Drummond, George, and Thomas), have addressed their rebounding issue in adding the 14 per game from Andre Drummond. Isaiah Thomas now has help, especially late in games, in the acquisition of Paul George. Also, don't underestimate that Paul George went toe-to-toe with LeBron in the playoffs in years past, and at one point held a 2-1 lead over the Heat back in 2011. PG13 has sustained success against King James in the postseason before, and is now in a position to actually come out on top this time... but in Boston.
The Celtics also complete this deal without giving up both Brooklyn picks, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, or Jaylen Brown, creating their new lineup of :
As far as likelihood of this deal coming to fruition? It's highly unlikely. But when you look at the pieces moving around, this is a balanced deal all the way around, and addresses the needs of all 3 parties involved. It also gives the Pacers and Pistons opportunities to draft another superstar in the respective drafts they're receiving picks in. And, being as though the Pacers are giving up PG and their first round pick, it's only fair that the Pacers get the 2017 BKN pick,