On Thursday night the Celtics stood pat and made their picks in the NBA Draft. At #3 they took SF Jayson Tatum out of Duke, at #37 they took Semi Ojeleye out of SMU, at #53 they selected Kadeem Allen from Arizona, and with the #56 pick, they took Jabari Bird out of Cal. So now that the draft is over, what’s the next move for the Celtics? Let’s look at their options.
Sign Gordon Hayward away from Utah
This is the main guy that the Celtics have been linked to this offseason. Just like last year, the C’s have enough room to add a max player in free agency, and everyone believes it will be Hayward. He averaged 21.9 PPG last season and 5.4 RPG while shooting 48% from the field and 40% from three. The scoring he could produce from the wing would be an immediate upgrade from what they have now in starting SF Jae Crowder.
Trade for Paul George
Porzingas didn’t get moved, and Jimmy Butler was finally traded, but it was to Minnesota. So who’s left for the Celtics? On draft night, it was reported by Woj that the Celtics and Pacers were deep into trade negotiations surrounding Paul George.
Indiana and Boston are engaged in serious talks on a Paul George trade, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 22, 2017
While the talk ultimately began to slow down as the night went on, that does not mean they are dead. Adam Kaufman sent out this tweet yesterday, which began to stir the pot even more:
Take this FWIW: Hearing #Celtics in position to deal 4 George with 3-yr ext in place, but will depend on signing Hayward 1st. Lotsa dominos.
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) June 23, 2017
So if this information is true, the Celtics chances of trading for Paul George are based on if they are able to sign Gordon Hayward first. In his post-draft press conference, Danny Ainge said something along the lines of it being easier to make trades after you sign your free agents. Things are starting to add up, as it does make a ton of sense to figure out what the cap is going to look like first before making a big trade, so you know how much room you have to clear. So who might the Celtics have to part ways with to make this work?
Clear the decks
If the Celtics want to get Gordon Hayward and Paul George this off-season, they have to do a lot of work to clear some money up. That starts with letting Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko, and James Young walk in free agency. Then they are going to have to ship off Tyler Zeller and probably Jae Crowder. This is pretty close to the only way to be able to sign Gordon Hayward to a $30M max deal and renegotiate Paul George to around $24M.
Jae isn’t a necessary piece to give up for money purposes, but the Celtics would have way too many forwards, leaving Crowder as the odd man out. I’m also pretty sure he would have to be involved in the trade package for George, as the Pacers would be looking to gain another SF after losing one. The package for George could potentially look like this: Zeller, Crowder, AB/Marcus Smart, and the ’18 Brooklyn pick/’18 Lakers pick. I would be just fine with that trade if George is guaranteed to extend his contract.
So the Celtics could potentially have a starting lineup of IT, Bradley (could be part of trade package), Hayward, George, and Horford with Smart (could be part of trade package), Brown, Tatum, Rozier, Ojeleye, Zizic, Yabusele, and whoever else they decide to sign coming in off the bench. I think if they do it right, that team could take the Cavs in a 7 game series, but it all starts with signing Hayward. If that doesn’t happen, this could all fall apart.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 27, 2017
WOJ BOMB!!! We knew this was all possible after the Adam Kaufman tweet I put on this blog a couple days ago, but seeing Woj tweet about it makes it feel so real. In his article, he stated that the Celtics do in fact want a Hayward commitment before trading for Paul George. It makes sense, given the fact that it’d be easier to trade for George once the cap is figured out. They also feel like an extension with George is very possible, but Indiana is yet to grant potential suitors permission to speak about that. Woj also stated in his article that Indiana might not be willing to wait for the Celtics to sign Gordon Hayward, as they could possibly pursue other trade partners. They do believe Boston has the best offer, but they also aren’t afraid to move as quickly as possible. Pretty dumb of them IMO, but what do I know. Anyways, according to Woj, if the Celtics can’t land Gordon Hayward, their backup option is going to be Blake Griffin. So we could potentially see a combination of either Hayward & George or Griffin & George. I feel like both of those combinations would be enough to get the Celtics on an even playing field with the Cavs. I really hope Ainge can pull this off.
P.S. I saw this picture from Sports Illustrated on Twitter today and got super excited, as should you:
Written By: Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)