The NBA trade deadline is just over two weeks away and the Celtics are one of several teams around the league that could be looking to make some upgrades on the margins. Danny Ainge has held pat despite an up-and-down season since opening night, but he’s made no secret about his aspirations to contend with this group. Despite constructing one of the deepest rosters in the league on paper, the Celtics’ bench has a few holes that could use some attention.
Before we get into specific trade candidates, it’s important first to understand what the Celtics have to work with in the coming weeks when it comes to potential deals. Which players are attainable? Which players aren’t going anywhere? Are there certain kinds of deals that are off limits? What are the team’s long-term goals entering the deadline? Let’s break down the answers to those questions to help sort through the barrage of rumors that will be coming over the next 16 days.
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Not going anywhere:
Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, Aron Baynes
Overview: This is a longer list than expected but that’s generally the case when your mission is to contend in the present and the future. A number of these names aren’t sure things to be on the Celtics roster next year, but a few of them (Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum) won’t be moved unless it’s for a superstar-type upgrade and that possibility won’t present itself until the offseason at the earliest. Baynes has a no-trade clause and has shown his value in the past couple of weeks after the team struggled without him defensively in stretches against true bigs during his lengthy absence. As long as Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo are lurking, Baynes will retain his worth, assuming he stays at his peak defensively. Smart and Morris have become integral contributors to the starting five and moving either midseason would be a step back for this team in the present. Before the season started, I would have guessed Morris would be a trade candidate at this point of the year due to his expiring deal, but his outside shooting and rebounding are just too important to this team's success in the midst of a near All-Star campaign. Irving and Horford remain building blocks, while any consideration of moving Hayward now would not work on a number of levels (selling at a low value, bad optics to future free agents). That might change by next season, but it's not worth considering just yet.
We’ll consider it, but it better be a nice upgrade