Boston Celtics Trade Targets for 2018

The Celtics may be 34-10, but they have some holes to fill. With the DPE still available, they could upgrade their bench without giving up any of their developing players.

It’s almost February, which means it’s time to fire up the trade machine. While the Celtics are leaving London with a 34-10 record, the roster is still flawed, as evidenced by their propensity to dig themselves holes early in games. Sure, they have a 5-4 record in games where they trail by 17 or more points, but wouldn’t they rather not fall behind by that much in one-fifth of their games? I’m not saying they should be bulletproof, but not every trend we’ve seen has been a good one. The most pressing need is somebody who can kick start the Celtics bench into gear. When Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier catch fire, the bench looks unstoppable, but the sense of urgency often isn’t evident until the third quarter. When they really need a push, you can count on Shane Larkin to inject the game with the energy and hustle to get things moving in the right direction, and as much as I like Larkin, the bench needs another non-guard to increase the pace so that Smart and Rozier can run the backcourt. There are some great options for the Celtics to use their $8.4 million Disabled Player Exception (DPE) on, but it has yet to be seen if any team would settle for an exception over a draft pick. Let’s take a look at who should be on their radar as the deadline approaches.

Tyreke Evans - Memphis Grizzlies

Evans is a 6’6” slasher who has developed into a point guard by necessity in Memphis. Playing in his ninth season, Evans has managed to almost replicate the production of his rookie year, which serves as maybe the only silver lining to a derailed season for the Memphis Grizzlies. His 19.9 points per game in 30 minutes is especially remarkable given that he missed half of last season to injury. It goes without saying that another 20-point scorer would be more than welcome on the Celtics, and Evans’s one year, $3.2 million contract makes him eligible for the DPE. It would be silly for Memphis to try to play their way out of their current draft lottery position (owners of the fourth worst record), making it the perfect time to sell high on pieces that likely aren’t going to stick around for a rebuild. Evans would fit perfectly with the Celtics second unit as another playmaker, or as somebody to play off Marcus Smart when the second-quarter offense predictably stalls out.

Julius Randle - Los Angeles Lakers

This one is probably a pipe dream because I can’t imagine Magic Johnson makes a deal knowing that he’s helping the Celtics get better. Randle is a polarizing Laker, although you wouldn’t know it over the deafening family circus that clogs the headlines. He’s been accused of being unmotivated, and while I don’t see that in him, his occasionally erratic minutes more or less confirms that he doesn’t always contribute while on the floor. Look no further than his last two games to get a glimpse of his inconsistency:

Vs SAC: 22 pts, 14 rebs, 6 assists on 8/13 shooting in 30 minutes

Vs SAS: 0 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist on 0/6 shooting in 17 minutes

Two games is a microscopic sample size, but I’m going to be one to ignore these inconsistencies as the deadline gets closer. The Celtics are pretty well rounded at each position but have found that their bench is not as deep as their 16 game win streak made it seem. Stevens has staggered starters with the bench as a result, and the Celtics have regained their form after a tough December. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to have another piece that allows Stevens to deviate from that formula now and then, and I don’t see why Randle can’t become an able contributor on both sides of the ball.

Lou Williams - Los Angeles Clippers

Quite possibly the most desired trade target of the season, and yet I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get moved. The Clippers, when healthy, are likely a playoff team. Probably not a good one, but Celtics fans know that Doc Rivers is loyal to his players to a fault, and isn’t the type to sell high on the guys who carry his team. This, of course, is why he left Boston to coach the Clippers in the first place when Danny Ainge made the mega-deal with Brooklyn. As far as Williams’s potential fit with the Celtics, I mean, there’s not much to say. He’s a professional scorer. He shoots the ball and it goes in, like, all the time. It’s remarkable, really. Williams is making $7 million on the last year of his deal, making him eligible as a DPE target, but I think the Clippers will be able to sell pretty high on him and will demand at least a first-round pick from a contender that wants him.

Tristan Thompson - No

No. No no no no no.

Marco Belinelli - Atlanta Hawks

A three-and-D player, except he’s really just a three. Belinelli can space the floor, making him a viable target for almost any team, but he won’t bring much else. I don’t see any reason to play him over Marcus Morris, or even alongside him for that matter, unless Stevens wants to get extra freaky with his lineups. To be fair, you can never have too many shooters, especially in the playoffs, on today’s NBA and I could see Belinelli getting a few minutes here and there if Semi Ojeleye never becomes integrated into the offense. Belinelli is making about $6 million in the last year of his deal, adding him to the (bottom of) DPE wishlist.

Honorable mention: Larry Nance Jr. - Los Angeles Lakers

Nance is exactly the shot of energy I would like to see added to the bench. Ainge targeted Nance last summer when he was looking to deal Avery Bradley, but couldn’t get the Lakers to part ways with him. Nance is supposedly on the market now, but with Bradley having already been dealt for Marcus Morris, I fear that the Celtics simply don’t have the right trade chips to make another move for Nance.

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