2 Trades to Improve the Celtics + 3 Targets

Despite having the NBA’s best record, the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics can still use some external help.

A bench unit that was once tops in the league regarding points per game, now sits at number 19. Regression from Sam Hauser and injuries here and there to key players including sixth man of the year candidate Malcolm Brogdon, has jumbled the second unit. Although injuries are a valid excuse, I believe the bench we saw when the Celtics got out to a 20-5 start is long gone and a subtle move for a backup wing or big can push the C’s over the top.

Boston started the NBA trade season off by dealing Noah Vonleh to the Spurs in a salary dump. Since then, only one trade has gone through which sent Rui Hachimura to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Players like John Collins (again), Myles Turner (again), and Bojan Bogdanovic highlight this years expected pool of available players. While those guys would be lovely in green, the penny might be too pretty.

So here are two trades the Celtics can pull off at little to no cost.

Celtics Receive: Mason Plumlee

Hornets Receive: Danilo Gallinari, Justin Jackson, 2023 2nd round pick via Portland

At 32 years old, Mason Plumlee is arguably having his best NBA season.

He’s nearly posting a double double every night averaging 12 ppg, 9.8 reb, and 3.7 ast and his skillset fits particularly well with the Celtics. Plum is one of the league’s best passing big men only trailing Nikola Jokic, Domantas Sabonis, and Joel Embiid in assists per game for centers. As encouraging as that stat is alone, it’s even more telling because his 15.3% usage rate this season is the second lowest of his career. Beyond his passing, Plumlee is a menace on the glass.

He’s a top 15 rebounder in the association and this potentially can be your third big. He also gives you some of what Robert Williams gives you on the offensive glass. According to BBall Index Plum ranks in the 99th percentile in offensive rebounds per game and for a squad sitting 24th in second chance points, I would say he improves that. Lastly, Plum has never been a good defender but this year it seems he’s making more of an effort.

As a rim deterrent this year he’s average at best, but his activity is promising. Sitting in the 89th percentile in % of rim shots contested and rim contests per 75 possessions shows that Mason doesn’t mind getting dirty.

There haven’t been any reports out of Charlotte specifically detailing the price of Plumlee. However, the Hornets are young and looking to get younger. And in the NBA, 32 years old makes you a vet. I honestly can’t see a team being desperate enough to give up an unprotected first for Mason even though he has been stellar. 

I didn’t want to do it, but sadly Danilo Gallinari has to be in the deal to match salary. It’s messed up but the Celtics are so close to the ultimate goal, so things have to be done. Celtics Receive: Kenrich Williams

Thunder Receive: 2023 2nd Round pick via Portland

Kenrich Williams, AKA Kenny Hustle, is 100% my favorite low cost option at the deadline.

He is the definition of a 3 and D wing plus he possesses some grit and toughness the bench is honestly lacking. First, his shooting has improved drastically from last season.

Williams’ 9% increase in 3pt makes this season has him sitting pretty at 42.9% on 2.5 tries. He also ranks in the 94th percentile in corner threes hitting a stellar 54.5% of his attempts. He could make a living off of corner shots when the defense doubles/blitzes the Jays. In his last 10 games he is shooting 51.5% from three so getting him soon while he’s hot could serve to be vital. However, the defense is what sets him apart.

Williams’ 6’6″ stocky frame and hustler mentality allows him to be one of the league’s most versatile defenders. He ranks in the 99th percentile in defensive versatility spending more than 10% of his minutes guarding primary ball handlers, secondary ball handlers, shot creators, and slashers. He’s a chess piece Joe Mazzulla can use on the defensive end by sticking him on many different types of players. A defense that is now all the way up to 8th in net rating after starting horribly to begin the year could get even better with the addition of Kenny Hustle.

With that being said there is no obvious direction on his future in OKC. In one thought you see the promise in young forwards like Jalen Williams, Aleksej Pokusevski, and in some cases Ousmane Dieng and think maybe they could benefit from taking Williams’ minutes. But when you look over at the standings you see that OKC sits only one game below .500. They have won 7 of their last 10 and are just two games out of the 6th seed. Even though we know they aren’t making a deep playoff run who’s to say management won’t go for the playoffs to use as experience? And if that’s the case Williams helps them as he would any playoff team.

Williams and Plumlee highlight this article because of the perceived asking price but they are not the only players that interest me.

Here are three more bean town trade targets that might not be in our asking price wheelhouse.

Kelly Oubre

Hornets wing Kelly Oubre is having a career year scoring the ball.

In 32.6 minutes per game Oubre is averaging just over 20 points per while grabbing five boards. The freedom in Charlotte has allowed him to step up and be the 2B scoring option below LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier (2A). Oubre has also been super disruptive on the perimeter defensively. His 1.6 steals per game lands him 9th in that category. Furthermore, he ranks in the 95th percentile in deflections per 75 possessions. His size and athleticism help him guard wings and bigger guards.

Despite those things this season hasn’t been all roses for Oubre.

While scoring at a career high clip, he has shot inefficiently. Splits of 42.1% from the field and 30.8% from three are both the second worse marks in his nine years. But an injury he is out with seems to be a scapegoat to NBA personnel.

On January 3rd Shams Charania reported that Oubre tore a ligament in his left hand. Shams also detailed that Oubre would need surgery and that the timetable set for recovery is 4-6 weeks. What’s surprising is that Oubre reportedly suffered the injury the first week of the season. Which leads some to believe his shooting has dipped due to playing through pain. While any injury can hinder a player Oubre has never been an excellent shooter. But with that being said, he can help any playoff team and I would not be surprised to see Charlotte get a promising prospect or a protected 1st rounder.

Naz Reid

Naz Reid continues to climb the ladder of backup bigs in the league.

In just 18 minutes Reid averages 10 ppg, 5 reb, and 1 blk. What pops out at you when you watch him is just how easy he can score the ball. At 6’9” 264 his inside-out ability will draw him a ton of looks. He’s currently shooting 78% on 139 attempts in the restricted area and 33% from three. His size, handle, and unexpected nimbleness allows him to bully and get buckets from the post or take guys off the dribble. Those same attributes attribute to him being a stellar roller to the hoop. He isn’t the best defender, but he has shot blocking ability. He’s had 10 multi-block games this season including a 5-rejection outing vs Memphis.

The Timberwolves at full strength are just not going to give Reid the opportunity he deserves. Even in this stretch where Karl-Anthony Towns is out, Reid only averages 17 minutes a contest in his last 10 games. And as good as Rudy Gobert is at what he does Reid brings a different element and more spacing to an offense catered around Anthony Edwards.

This would be a good investment for the Celtics, but the price might not be right. The Twolves would almost certainly want a young prospect or picks in a deal for Reid. Although, looking at their roster I honestly don’t love the point guards they have. D’Angelo Russell is being shopped around and Jordan McLaughin, a true passing point, hasn’t been healthy. Maybe Payton Pritchard is a guy Boston can dangle to Minnesota. A Pritchard for Reid swap works straight up and I would heavily consider it.

Things just depend on how the Twolves value Reid.

Kenyon Martin Jr.

The beginning of Kenyon Martin Jr. and the Houston Rockets has been a bit rocky.

It was reported ahead of the 2022 NBA Draft that Martin told Rockets management that he wanted to be traded. Houston obviously didn’t honor that request and Martin found himself on the roster this season.

In 48 games he’s putting up 11 ppg and 5.3 reb in 25 minutes. The interest with mini K-Mart to me lies within his youth and athleticism. Most of the trade targets linked to the Celtics are veterans and rightfully so. This is a championship team and veteran presences are at an abundance. But getting another young piece for your bench that you can develop could be great. Martin is truly one of the most athletic guys in the league and I can’t get the image of him and Timelord flying around the court out of my head.

On the other hand, he is 22 years old so he’s far from a finished product. His shot still needs work hitting at a 33% clip from out there. His defensive positioning is almost poor right now, but I think that’ll come with experience. Moreover, Martin doesn’t even average half a block a game which is inexcusable for someone that athletic. Also, the trade request does make me raise an eyebrow just due to uncertainty.

We haven’t seen many players request a trade in their second NBA season. Reports said that the decision was mostly about him seeing the writing on the wall regarding playing time. Houston had the third pick in the draft this year (Jabari Smith Jr.) and Martin just didn’t feel there were enough minutes to go around. And even though Boston needs another wing, I’m just not sure the minutes will increase to his liking here.

Lastly, the expected value of Martin is somewhat on the tier of Naz Reid. Both the Rockets and Twolves have a need at point guard, so Pritchard is the common denominator. Again, I would consider trading PP for both players, but a price hasn’t been set for these guys.

Having the best record in the NBA does not mean you are exempt from improvement. I look forward to seeing what the Celtics roster looks like after the trade deadline.

Next Game : Thursday January 26, Vs. New York Knicks

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