Should Celtics make in-season trades? Five targets worth considering originally appeared on NBC SportsBoston
We know what you’re thinking: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The Boston Celtics boast the NBA’s best record (29-12) at the halfway point of their season. After losing five of six games in mid-December, they’ve responded by winning seven of their last nine and have elevated their game on both ends since the return of Robert Williams.
So, do the Celtics really need to make a move between now and the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline? While there’s no pressing need, the rich can always get richer, and there are some areas of mild concern.
Sam Hauser has cooled off considerably since his scorching start to the season and hit just 28.9 percent of his 3-pointers in December. While he’s somewhat righted the ship in January, the Celtics could decide they need a more proven veteran sharpshooter for the playoff run — essentially what they hoped Danilo Gallinari would be before his return ACL.
The C’s also could benefit from additional frontcourt help. Considering Robert Williams’ injury history and Al Horford’s age (36), Brad Stevens may seek a big man who can give Boston quality minutes if either player misses time, similar to what Daniel Theis provided the Celtics in Williams’ absence late last season.
Boston is already $25.5 million over the luxury tax and owes its 2023 first-round pick to Indiana from the Malcolm Brogdon trades, so don’t expect any big splashes. But there are a few players who might be worth filling the roster spot the Celtics opened up last week by trading Noah Vonleh to the San Antonio Spurs.
Let’s get to the list.
2022-23 stats: 9.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.2 apg, 51.5% FG, 35.1% 3PT
2022-23 cap hits: $12.96 million
This one might be the most difficult to pull off. Given Hart’s hefty contract, the C’s likely would have to trade Gallinari and one or two other players to absorb his salary. But Hart would be a seamless fit on Boston’s second unit as a well-rounded wing who can shoot, facilitate and grab rebounds.
A bench led by Brogdon and Hart would be quite formidable, although it would require the Celtics to make a significant roster shakeup, which might not be the best move considering this group’s strong chemistry.
2022-23 stats: 15.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 43.4% FG, 34.7% 3PT
2022-23 cap hits: $5.8 million
Washington is a prime trade candidate on the final year of his rookie deal with a lottery-bound franchise. He’s enjoying a career year offensively and is averaging 2.0 made 3-pointers per game, so he’d be a great floor-stretcher in the frontcourt who could ease the load on Horford while making Boston’s second unit even more potent.
The Celtics have a $6.9 million traded player exception from the Dennis Schroder deal that they could use to absorb Washington’s contract.
2022-23 stats: 5.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.9 apg, 43.1% FG, 37.3% 3PT
2022-23 cap hits: $3.5 million
Muscala’s stats don’t jump off the page, but he’s been pretty productive in limited action for OKC, averaging a career-high 20.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per 36 minutes for the Thunder last season. He’s a quality 3-point shooter (37.7 percent over 10 NBA seasons) and at 6-foot-10 would give the Celtics some of the height and floor-spacing they expected to have with Gallinari.
2022-23 stats: 7.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 55.2% FG, 42.6% 3PT
2022-23 cap hits: $2 million
The 28-year-old Williams probably doesn’t fit into OKC’s rebuild plans, but he’s an excellent shooter who also can play solid defense at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds. If the Celtics have long-term concerns about Hauser, it might be worth taking a flyer on Williams, who is low-risk on a $2 million expiring contract.
2022-23 stats: 5.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.8 apg, 58.7% FG, 38.2% 3PT
2022-23 cap hits: $1.8 million
Green admittedly isn’t an ideal roster fit as a 6-foot-4 shooting guard. But he’s one of Jayson Tatum’s best friends from his one-and-a-half seasons in Boston from 2019 to 2021, and an Eastern Conference executive told Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney that the Celtics are “keeping an eye on” Green.
Green is shooting well from 3-point range this season and plays aggressive defense, so if the Celtics can’t find minutes for Payton Pritchard, perhaps they’d consider swapping him with Green to save some cash and appease their star player. (Green did undergo knee surgery Wednesday, but there’s optimism he can return right around the trade deadline, for ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.)