Searching for a Celtics Draft Trade Partner: Western Conference Edition

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Note: This is Part 2 of a series started on Monday. You can check out Part 1 (East teams) by clicking here.

Flexibility is a key element to offseason planning for any NBA team. Smart front offices know other team's roster makeup and needs inside and out, which plants the seeds for eventual trade moves down the line.

The Celtics may end up having a quiet offseason when it comes to major moves, but they will be active on the fringes of their roster after a disappointing finish to the 2019-20 season. One issue they will have to work through is currently having too many bodies on the roster, with not enough spots to go around if they want to make other offseason upgrades.

Assuming Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter opt-in, that will be 12 guaranteed contracts on the roster. Semi Ojeleye ($1.8 million) is a candidate to stick around (team option) and the same goes for restricted free agents Brad Wanamaker and Tremont Waters. Throw in four draft picks for Boston (three in the first round for the 2020 NBA Draft) and the Celtics have a numbers problem on their hands even if Ojeleye and Wanamaker are not brought back.

In order to solve this equation, the C’s are going to need to find some trade partners this offseason, ideally ones willing to take back multiple picks or a player without sending one back for next season. One road they will pursue will be finding teams that could be a dumping ground for players with guaranteed contracts (Vincent Poirier, Enes Kanter, Carsen Edwards) at a spot where a potential trade partner is looking to upgrade. The Celtics could also try to cut some of these cheaper contracts outright and just take the monetary loss to open up the roster spot, but with the possibility of luxury tax penalties kicking in, the odds are the front office will heavily pursue other routes to shed salary before adding on to any ownership losses.

The other path that will be worth pursuing for the Celtics ahead of or during the NBA Draft is finding teams that have some roster space and could be in the market for additional draft picks. That combination of needs would help the Celtics dump some excess salary and free up some roster spots while consolidating talent on the roster. It’s hard to pull all of those objectives off in the same deal, but there are a few teams that could check those boxes next month. We already broke down the Eastern Conference teams to keep an eye on earlier this week, so now we turn out attention to the Western Conference to find a potential match.

Portland Trail Blazers
Own two picks in 2020 Draft (No. 16, 46)
9 players under contract for 2021
Key FAs: Hassan Whiteside, Carmelo Anthony
Expected to have significant cap room in offseason? No

Overview: With Jusuf Nurkic back healthy, they don’t necessarily need a high-level replacement for Hassan Whiteside if he walks in free agency at the backup center spot. However, there is a clear need for young and cost-controlled talent on the back end of this roster with the Blazers having so much money tied up in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and not a lot of young talent elsewhere. They are over the cap as well but will have a couple of decent-sized trade exceptions at their disposal (worth up to $8 million), which could make them as a landing spot for Enes Kanter ($5 million) if the C’s are looking to clear out the big man and the Blazers want to add backup center via trade. For instance, the No. 30 pick and Kanter for a future protected first-round pick (or an early second-round pick) could be a way for the C’s to solve their own logjam while creating more salary flexibility. For a team that needs defensive help, consider Semi Ojeleye as a potential trade possibility here too, even though the Blazers could simply try to sign him in free agency if the C’s don’t pick up his option.

Houston Rockets
Zero picks in the 2020 NBA Draft
9 players under contract for 2021
Key FAs: Jeff Green
Expected to have significant cap room in offseason? No

Overview: Daryl Morey has essentially left the draft cupboard bare here so the Rockets would certainly be interested in taking