3 Trade Targets For the Celtics Bench

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Despite their NBA best 20-5 record, the Boston Celtics seem to be looking for bench improvements.

According to Shams Charania of the Athletic, the Celtics will be active in the trade market to pursue bench help.

A report also came out yesterday that the Celtics were one of three teams that were very interested in Detroit Pistons big Isaiah Stewart.

Personally, I wouldn’t be a huge fan of the addition and most of it isn’t because of the player Stewart is but because of the poison pill provision.

The poison pill occurs when a team extends a player’s rookie scale contract and trades them before the extension kicks in.

In this case Beef Stew signed a 4yr/$60m rookie extension with the Pistons this past offseason but it doesn’t officially take effect until next season. So right now Stewart is making $5.2 million which would make him easier to trade for, but the poison pill makes it so that the team receiving the player actually has to match the average of his current salary and the full salary of the upcoming deal.

In simpler terms you just add his current salary ($5.2m), to the full extension he signed ($60m) and add a year.

This comes out to be about $65 million over 5 years which is $13 million annually. So essentially the Celtics would have to scrape up $13 million in contracts to get the deal done.

And since we aren’t trading Al Horford‘s $10 million salary for Stewart, it would take a huge package of bench players to get to the point of matching.

Even though he’s a solid young player, Stewart isn’t worth the money and the hassle you would be going through to get him but here are three low maintenance bench guys I think the Celtics should target that wouldn’t involve the hassle.

Delon Wright, Washington Wizards

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Maybe it’ll be a little awkward for Brad Stevens to call the Wizards for another trade, but I think this one would be worth it because Delon Wright is as steady as they come.

Wright is a 31-year-old veteran point guard who has the size, skills, and intangibles to guard 1 through 3 at 6’5” 185. He’s only appeared in eight games this season due to an MCL Sprain he suffered in November. But in 17 minutes a night he was averaging 5 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals while shooting 36% from deep.

In his short minutes, this year he’s been an advanced stats darling and he can truly do it all when it comes to shooting, defending, and driving.

He’s shooting 44% on catch and shoots this year and 67% on corner threes which ranks in the 97th percentile. The sample size is small so to paint a bigger picture he’s shot over 36% from three in six of his nine NBA seasons.

In terms of defending Delon has honestly been one of the most underrated point of attack defenders for years. Last year he ranked in the 96th percentile in overall perimeter defense and this year he ranks in the top 1% in pick pocket rate, steals, and deflections per 75 possessions.

According to BBall Index he hasn’t received a grade lower than an A- when it comes to iso perimeter defense in the last eight seasons. If impact and disruption is what you want on the defensive side Delon is your guy.

And lastly, the finishing which is still a surprise to me.

Delon has been about a 60% guy at the rim for his career but last year he shot an absurd 84% down in the paint. While I don’t expect him to shoot north of 80% down there again, he has a knack for getting downhill and that branches out to his playmaking. The past two seasons have seen Delon rank towards the top of the league in drive pass-out rate and before he got hurt, he averaged the most points off his assists per 75 possessions in the entire league.

The path to trading for Delon isn’t straightforward but it would be $5 million easier than trading for Stewart. His age and the injury could cause concern for some fans but there is minimal risk here assuming the Celtics don’t trade any of their top 8 guys (which they won’t have to).

Delon is on the final year of his deal and if things go south you don’t have to bring him back and your top 8 doesn’t lose a beat. But if he does end up working out for you when he comes back the things you gain with him on the floor could take the Celtics bench unit to another level.

Torrey Craig, Chicago Bulls

I know this isn’t the Chicago Bull most Celtics fans want but hear me out.

I recognize 100% that Alex Caruso is the prize, but I don’t think the Celtics have the assets to win that bidding war. Caruso, deservingly so, will have many NBA teams lining up for his services. And every time a report comes out about the Bulls asking price for him the value seems to go up.

So, I went with someone that shouldn’t cost you that much.

Torrey Craig is a dependable 6’7” wing and has been that way for a long time. Craig has played 27 games this season, averaging about 21 minutes a night. In those minutes he’s putting up 6 points, and 5 rebounds on 38% shooting from deep.

Craig, like Delon Wright, is a very steady veteran that continues to defend at a high level. Last year Craig ranked in the 95th percentile in overall perimeter defense and has played up to that level this season.

We have also seen Craig have some really important playoff games in his career which definitely is needed on a contender like the Celtics.

Craig has been a rotational guy on five playoff teams in his career and has shot 40% from deep in three of those runs although being on low volume. Just last season Craig averaged 12.5 points on 55% shooting from deep helping lead the Suns to a round 1 beating of the Los Angeles Clippers.

What makes this even better is that Craig only makes $2.5 million annually over the next two seasons.

Which means the Celtics wouldn’t even have to send a player to the Bulls to get him because he fits into a trade exception. The reliability of Craig, along with the possibility of not even having to give up a player for him, really makes him a target worth pursuing.

Trendon Watford, Brooklyn Nets

Trendon Watford is an intriguing player not many pay attention to.

Watford started his career with the Portland Trail Blazers and was surprisingly waived by them last offseason. He was let go in a season where he played 62 games averaging 7.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists while shooting 39% from three.

This year he’s appeared in 19 games averaging similar numbers despite the minutes and 3 point % being slightly down.

What I like about Watford is his offensive versatility coupled with his size. At 6’8” he’s a 240 pound big bodied forward who has really impressive skill and agility for his size. He can really pass, handle, and rebound the ball and is a player I think can do a little bit of everything on that end when given a chance. I also believe he would add something new to the Celtics bench.

Out of the wings the Celtics currently have off the bench none of them are consistent threats to use their handle in order to create for themselves and others.

Sam Hauser has shown some flashes of improvement in that area, but he doesn’t have the juice Watford has off the bounce. Oshae Brissett and Lamar Stevens have been strictly energy guys when they come in and their offense comes in the form of cutting, offensive rebounds, and catch and shoot threes.

Watford wouldn’t overtake Hauser in the rotation by any means but having a bigger creator on the floor with Sam could unlock a few things.

With the Nets seemingly loaded at the wing position I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave Watford up for any number of second round picks.

The risk here again is minimal for the Celtics as Watford is on a minimum contract and the Celtics don’t have to send players for him.

The Celtics bench has started to come around in a big way but I don’t think one more piece would hurt just as long as we aren’t trading any important pieces to the rotation.

Next Game : Tuesday December 19th, Vs. Golden State Warriors

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