Biggest need Celtics must address at 2024 NBA trade deadline

The Celtics could use some sneaky additions

Brad Stevens in the middle of the image with Kristaps Porzingis to his right and Jayson Tatum to his left. They’re all looking somewhat serious and they’re on a Boston city skyline background

For many teams, the NBA trade deadline is a time for panic. It’s when big contracts get shipped out, disappointing star players are ditched, or new talent is found. But, for the Boston Celtics, the 2024 trade deadline is a time for planning.

The Celtics have championship aspirations for the 2023-24 season, and their record proves it. The C’s are an NBA-best 38-12 overall and sit in first place in the Eastern Conference—with the second-place Cleveland Cavaliers currently five games behind them.

With a talented starting five of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday, and Kristaps Porzingis, the Celtics have little reason to shake up their star-studded lineup right now. However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t prepare for the worst. Before the trade deadline passes, the Celtics need to stock up on some depth in case of a significant injury.

During the 2023-24 campaign, Boston has enjoyed decent health. Tatum, Brown, and White have been reliable as usual, outside of them missing the occasional game for rest. Holiday has also been healthy, as he’s started every game he’s been in and is on pace to play over 70 games this season.

Porzingis, who has a lengthy injury history, has missed 14 games so far. Of course, the Celtics are taking it easy with the Latvian big man, meaning a lot of those absences are rest-related rather than legitimate setbacks.

Despite all these good signs, things could still take a turn at any second. For proof of that, look no further than Game 7 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals, when Tatum tweaked his ankle at the start of the decisive game against the Miami Heat. Tatum never looked like himself after that tough break and Boston would end up falling 103-84 on its home court.

Preparing for an injury like that is nearly impossible, but that shouldn’t stop the Celtics from loading up on depth while they can.

At present, Boston has eight future second-round picks, three first-round picks, and a $6.2 million TPE (stemming from the sign-and-trade of forward Grant Williams). With all of that at their disposal, the front office could certainly add some talent.

The Celtics wouldn’t even have to get rid of someone necessarily, as they have an open roster spot at the moment. Boston’s team chemistry seems to be at an all-time high currently, so making a move without sending a rostered player away seems ideal.

Names to watch for the Celtics

Andre Drummond, John Konchar, Otto Porter, Saddiq Bey

In addition to having solid trade assets, the market for bench players is decent and realistic.

The Celtics have been linked to guys like Chicago Bulls center Andre Drummond and Memphis Grizzlies guard John Konchar, who are both reasonable matches that would work within Boston’s TPE.

There’s also Toronto Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr. and Atlanta Hawks wing Saddiq Bey, who could both provide shooting off the bench as well as size.

Boston has been connected to Brooklyn Nets guard Lonnie Walker IV, too. He’s perhaps at the top of the wishlist for a lot of Celtics fans, as he can score with ease and is averaging an impressive 12 points in just 18.8 minutes per game this season.

Furthermore, last postseason with the Los Angeles Lakers, Walker shocked the NBA world with a 15-point fourth quarter in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Golden State Warriors. An explosive scorer like that could do wonders for the Celtics in the playoffs (and he’s barely earning over $2 million this year).

All the aforementioned players are on struggling franchises that are probably looking to sell at the deadline. The Celtics have even traded recently with the Memphis Grizzlies and are directly tied to the Utah Jazz, who are coached by former Celtics assistant Will Hardy and managed by ex-Celtic Danny Ainge.

If the price is right, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens could work out a smaller-scale move.

Anything beyond the $6.2 million TPE will probably shift contracts around and mix up the current roster. That doesn’t seem as likely for the Celtics, who made most of their significant changes this past offseason.

If Boston wants to put a last-minute deal together, it’ll have to do it quickly. The trade deadline is on February 8th at 3 P.M. (EST), leaving the Celtics and 29 other teams with a small window of opportunity.

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