BIG MAD EPIC POST - Boston Celtics 2020-201 Post-Mortem

Recapping the good, the bad, and the ugly from 2020-2021 season and previewing the offseason to come

Greetings everyone!

So the Boston Celtics were eliminated from championship contention this week after a game 5 loss in Brooklyn. I’ve been putting this report together for a couple weeks in anticipation. I’ve broken the report into 4 sections. Feel free to skip around at your leisure.

The Good - sort of obvious, the bright points of the season.

The Bad - also obvious, the bad stuff.

The Ugly - is this specifically about the whole Kyrie Irving debacle that unfolded last week.

The Way Forward - What the Celtics need to prioritize in the offseason and how this team can get better.

Anyways, hope you enjoy!!


The Good

The Rookies

The current (or recently departed) front office regime has had a mixed bag on their draft success. On one hand, they’ve hit big time on guys like Tatum, Brown, Smart, Terry Rozier (now in Charlotte), and Robert Williams. But on the other hand, they have had some monumental misses. Almost too many to count. The 2020 crop of rookies appears to be trending towards the “hit” category.

Payton Pritchard, whom the Celtics took with the 27th pick in the first round, has been a pleasant surprise. A four year player out of Oregon, many analysts were puzzled by the Celtics taking him so high when he was projected at best as a mid-second rounder. But apparently the front office and coaching staff were enamored by him. And thus far, Pritchard has been an excellent third guard option. In fact he was so good in the beginning of the season that he made Jeff Teague expendable to clear up more minutes. I think that going forward, he’s kind of the perfect third guard option for this team. He’s a scrappy and engaged defender despite being slightly undersized. He’s an excellent shooter, particularly off the dribble, and he is shifty enough to beat defenders off the dribble and create his own shots. And inside he’s a surprisingly great finisher at the rim for his size. It’s probably way too early to tell, but his game really reminds me of Isaiah Thomas, particularly with the quick step backs and the way he deftly uses his body when finishing around the rim.

The Celtics other first round pick, Aaron Nesmith, had a much more up and down season. He was coming off an ACL injury in college, and suiting up this season was the first real basketball he’d played in nearly two years. And that really showed towards the beginning of the season. He was erratic and looked a little overwhelmed by the speed of the NBA game, like many rookies are. But around mid-season, he began to settle in, and since then he has begun to show why the Celtics drafted him so highly. Defensively he has the length, strength, and instincts that translate into the potential to be a top level stopper. His outside shot hasn’t quite come along yet in terms of consistency, but being such a skilled scorer in college makes me think that will come in time. And most importantly, he’s a grinder. He crashes the boards ferociously and is willing to put his body on the line. I think he’s already surpassed Romeo Langford and Semi Ojeleye as this teams third wing, and with an actual offseason coming up I’m interested to see where his game goes from here.

Jaylen Brown Leveling Up

To put it in simple terms, Jaylen Brown leveled up this season. He’s established himself as a knockdown shooter and is a legitimate outside threat. Whereas before he would drive with reckless abandon trying to dunk on people, he now exudes a patience inside that really compliments his athleticism. I think many people were worried (myself included) that we had committed a max contract to a guy that is very good, but maybe not a top flight talent required to win a championship. Is he a #1 guy? A #2? A 1a? I think those fears have been quelled. Jaylen is a legit star in this league, and I think that alongside Tatum the Celtics have a championship-caliber core.

Robert Williams

The flashes were always there with the Time Lord. His incredible combination of length, athleticism, and timing have been enticing since day one. But that excitement has almost always been snuffed out due to his inability to stay healthy. That being said, I think that Robert Williams has established himself as the center of the future for this team. His defensive prowess and ability as a rim runner compliment the Tatum/Brown core quite nicely. And he’s a much better passer than one might think. Good enough I think to run dribble handoff actions and at least some of the offense through him.

The only real question with Time Lord is health. He just hasn’t been able to stay on the floor thus far in his career. He’s extension eligible this summer, and I think that resigning him should be made a priority with this team (more on that later.)


The Bad

Roster Construction

This roster was a disaster, plain and simple. This team was coming off of an Eastern Conference Finals appearance last season and the top end talent is undeniable. Tatum and Brown and Kemba are a legit, championship caliber core. But the front office utterly failed to surround them with the talent necessary to foster success, at least in the short term.

Last offseason, the biggest roster needs were in the depth of the front and backcourt. Although they are flush with wing talent, the Celtics were quite thin up both in the backcourt and frontcourt. To their credit, the front office tried to address those areas. They signed Tristian Thompson to a two year, $19 million deal, and he was mostly a disaster. This might have been a function of the Celtics being so starved for any scoring help due to injury, and having to play offense through the extremely limited Thompson was doomed to fail.

They also signed journeyman point guard Jeff Teague. They Celtics knew Kemba would be hurt for at least the first few months of the season with a knee injury, so right off the bat they knew they would need backcourt help. Simply put, Jeff Teague was not the answer. He was inconsistent in all facets of the game, which is hardly the type of presence you want in a point guard.

At midseason, it became clear that something needed to change. They needed to make a splash. They needed some help. They traded Daniel Theis, basically their only consistent big man to Chicago to get under the luxury tax. A baffling move considering the lack of punch Thompson brought and TimeLord’s inability to get healthy. Then, they trade Jeff Teague and part of their Gordon Hayward trade exception for Evan Fournier. Fournier was a great addition (I’ll go into that more later), but it was just too little too late.

Simply put, this was not a NBA championship caliber roster. Sure, they were ravaged by injuries and COVID protocols. But that’s just not an excuse. This front office whiffed big time on two of the three “big” moves they made this season, and that batting average is not going to cut it.

Then, last Wednesday, it was announced that Danny Ainge would be stepping down from his role as President of Basketball Operations, and that head coach Brad Stevens would be elevated to the position. Stevens will no longer be the coach, and the team will now be searching for it’s first new head coach in 8 years.

It seems like the team has reached a certain inflection point, and this transition seems like a way to mark the beginning of a new era. The old regime of Ainge, who orchestrated the rebuild that has put them in the position they currently sit, has in many ways lost it’s fastball. I’m not going to sit here and snipe at Ainge, because even though the last year or so has been rough, he’s mostly been incredible at his job.

First, he manages to assemble the first Big Three. But beyond that, he surrounded them with a complimentary cast of role players that made their 3-ish year window possible. Then he pulls the plug and pulls off one of the most successful rebuilds in NBA history. He hires whiz kid Brad Stevens, and even though the team is “rebuilding” they make the playoffs in every season. They draft Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and fleece Philadelphia to trade up for Jayson Tatum. Then, over the course of 18 months, he signs Al Horford, signs Gordon Hayward, and trades for Kyrie Irving.

Twitter idiots and talk radio morons love to talk about the moves Ainge didn’t make, but the fact is that he took big swings and was able to get top talent to Boston whether by hook or by crook. Sure, Kyrie didn’t work out. Gordon was kind of a disaster since the jump. And trade rumors surrounding guys like Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard never materialized. But Ainge did his job.

And the new Stevens regime has to step in and pick up those pieces. Granted, there are a lot of great pieces. A generational scorer in Tatum. A two-way stud in Jaylen Brown. Plenty of solid young role players. But the roster itself still has huge question marks, and the direction Stevens decides to go will almost certainly define the next iteration of Celtics basketball.

Health

This team was unable to stay healthy, which I think was the primary factor in their disappointing season. The core of Walker, Brown, and Tatum was rarely healthy together. The team lost the most games to COVID protocols in the NBA. I think that a lack of chemistry is sort of a simple answer to their on-court issues, and the only way you can foster chemistry-building is to be on the court. I’m just going to leave this here:


The Ugly

For me, in a frustrating season full of disappointment, it was the way it ended that was truly ugly. Prior to his first return to Boston since departing the team two years ago, Kyrie Irving commented that he hoped that Boston fans wouldn’t be “belligerent” or “subtly racist” towards him upon his return.

Boston and it’s sports fans have developed a reputation as a particularly racist breed of fans over the years. Kyrie’s comments were only the latest in a long history of racist fan behavior. Orioles center field Adam Jones complained in 2017 of hearing racial slurs hurled from the bleachers at Fenway Park. Former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter revealed that he exercised his no-trade clause to avoid having to play in front of Boston fans he says racially abused him. Even Kevin Youkilis, a Boston native, said he heard terrible things said to his own teammates during his time in Boston.

As both a Celtics fan and a lifelong Bostonian, my immediate snap reaction was to dismiss Kyrie’s statement as a sort of hedge against the inevitable rain of boos that he would receive last Friday night. I figured that he said what he said in order to paint the negative fan reaction to be racist, whether or not it was actually was, in order to dissuade fans from booing the shit out of him. He didn’t say whether he’d actually heard anything racist before, only that he hoped he wouldn’t hear anything racist.

Jaylen Brown followed up with his own comments that I think spoke for Celtics nation the best. He acknowledged the troubled history the city has had, but also went out of his way to highlight the small steps and good work many people have done to make things better. He also admonished Kyrie for using something trivial like a playoff basketball game to try tackle something so complicated and high-stakes like battling institutional and systemic racism.

Then, after the Celtics were blown out in Game 4 due in part to 39 points from Irving, a fan threw a water bottle at Kyrie as he exited the floor. A 21-year-old fan from Braintree was arrested and charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, a charge that can carry prison time.

To be clear, throwing shit on the court is completely unacceptable. But Celtics fans had every right to boo and jeer and do their stupid little “Fuck Kyrie” chants. That’s all well within bounds. Kyrie Irving quit on the Celtics, plain and simple, and fans do not forget things like that so easily. And to go on and lose in such embarrassing fashion to the person who bailed on you, after such a disappointing and frustrating season, after 14 months of suffering through a pandemic, I wouldn’t say I’m surprised the way things boiled over. But I was certainly disappointed.

The next day, video emerged of Kyrie going over to the Boston Celtics logo at half court during a timeout to stomp on the head of Lucky the Leprechaun. It might seem a bit silly to get mad about something like that. And on it’s face it is. But the symbolism of the act can’t be ignored. The fan experience and fans’ relationship to their team is almost a wholly symbolic one. Look what happened to Terrell Owens when he tried to stomp on the Dallas Cowboys star in 2000.

I'm not saying that Kyrie deserved to have a water bottle chucked at him. But I’m not saying he’s entirely blameless either. It seems a little hypocritical for someone pleading for the fans’ respect to turn around and do something like that. To me the only way I can read it is that he was intentionally trying to rile people up. That’s all well and good, it’s part of the game. But when you turn heel and people get mad at you for it, I’m sorry but I don’t want to hear it. You have to accept the consequences of your actions. There are no sympathetic provocateurs in sports.

But the more salient point here is that there has been a pattern of fan behavior in Boston. It’s undeniable. The Kyrie debacle was only the latest in a long, complicated, and ugly history for the city and it’s sports teams. If we as human beings are actually interested in walking the walk and doing the hard work of equality, then the most basic thing we can do to amend the situation is to listen to those people who have been on the receiving end of that abuse. We can’t just dismiss people out of hand because they play for another team. We can’t just ignore someone’s perspective just because we aren’t a fan of them. The fact that these hard truths (however obliquely and ass-backwards he might have reached them) were coming from Kyrie Irving has made reality even more difficult to swallow, but it doesn’t change the facts. You can’t shoot the messenger.

Online you saw Boston sports defenders and fans come up with all kind of excuses. Most of them fell along the lines of “there’s racist fans everywhere, it’s unfair for us to be singled out”. This is kind of representative of the kind of racism that lives in Boston. I don’t think anyone who lives here would say Boston is a “racist city”. We are a liberal, progressive, and forward-thinking place that we like to think has turned the page on a virulently racist history. We aren’t Alabama after all. But the conditions on the ground would suggest otherwise. Despite the cities best efforts, it’s is still struggling with the segregating effects of redlining that happened decades ago. Compared to the suburbs and other predominantly white areas, Boston public schools lack the resources to give their students a quality education despite being in the state with the best public schools in America. The cops are just as murderous and violent as anywhere else. And we may not like to admit it, but no amount of liberal policy and quality education can snuff out a strong and vocal minority of racists and bigots.

While all that may be true, it doesn’t excuse us as fans from holding ourselves to a higher standard. It’s not only embarrassing as a fan and as a human being, but it undercuts the incremental progress this city has made and the great work many people are doing here to make things better. Sports are not apolitical. And we need to make our sports reflect the values we want as a city, not the values we are trying to leave in the past


The Way Forward

Fortunately for the Celtics, the current situation is not completely unsalvageable. In fact, I would say that they are well positioned to come out of this season and offseason in a good place. Here is where I see the biggest areas of concern on the roster and how they can address them:

“Connectors”

Brad Stevens’ offensive system thrives on two things: ball movement and a pick-and-roll action. This isn’t unique to Stevens’ system, and it’s basically how the bulk of NBA structure their offenses these days. So even if Stevens’ successor runs a different offensive scheme, the fundamentals will stay the same.

The ball movement part is pretty simple. You want to move the ball around the perimeter to move the defense and to get better shots, and to do that effectively you need shooters and guys who pass the ball. The Celtics had neither. They really lacked the facilitators required to move the defense around enough to create cutting and driving lanes, and they sorely lacked the perimeter shooters necessary to keep defenses honest.

The pick-and-roll part is a little more complicated. The Celtics have had a ton of success running DHO (dribble hand offs) and pick-and-pops in the past because they had the right personnel. Guys like Gordon Hayward and Al Horford were versatile enough to be the screener, the distributor, and the pop guy. Even big guys like Daniel Theis and Kelly Olynyk thrived in the system because they were solid decisionmakers, good roll men, and could hit an open three. They were swiss army knives that made playing defense a cerebral affair. As Hubie Brown once said you only set a screen in order to make defenders think. But when your pick and roll attack is one dimensional, like the Celtics was, it ceases to be an advantage.

This is precisely why Gordon Hayward was so valuable to this team a year ago. Many people complained that he wasn’t scoring, that he was a shell of himself athletically, and that his wife is annoying. That all was certainly true. But they didn’t need that from him. They ran a ton of offense through Gordon, who through his unselfish passing, set up a lot of easy shots for the likes of Tatum and Brown. He made all the right plays. He had a fuckton of hockey assists. When Gordon was on the court, the offense just flowed a lot better.

Tatum and Brown are not playmakers and not facilitators. They can’t play off each other and they don’t really make the players around them better, at least at this stage in their careers. That’s not to say that won’t come, but at this point they are both primarily scorers. This is totally fine. It’s a good problem to have. But whenever the offense flows though either of them, it almost always devolves into one of them isolating. The offense completely stalls.

Tatum had a serious case of Kobebrain, especially when Kemba and Jaylen were both off the floor. Possessions would basically devolve into him dribbling the ball for 22 seconds, backing his defending in, and taking a baseline fadeaway. This is terrible basketball both from an analytical and aesthetic perspective. Part of me doesn’t blame him, because he had no help. Even the best offensive schemes and systems won’t work if you lack the personnel to execute, and the Celtics just didn’t have the guys to make it work.

They need a guy (or two) who can facilitate the offense and act as the sort of connective tissue between stars. This team needs a guy (or two) who can orchestrate the offense, keep the ball from stagnating, and facilitate scoring for the stars. Put simply, they need an unselfish, versatile guy who can pass the ball while remaining a threat offensively.

Second Unit Scoring/Shooting

One of the hallmarks of true title contenders is having a go-to bench scorer. And the Celtics scoring struggles were sort of magnified because Kemba, Tatum, and Brown were rarely heathy together, and the lack of scoring punch in the second unit was really exacerbated. No lead built by the starting group was ever safe because the second unit lacked the scoring to stay afloat.

The Celtics second unit had plenty of solid defenders like Robert Williams, Semi Ojeleye, Aaron Nesmith, and Grant Williams. But defense is only half the battle, and all those guys are extremely limited offensively. They were so desperate that they signed Jabari Parker off the street, a guy who was waived by the lowly Sacramento Kings.

Basically they need a guy who can keep the second unit on track scoring wise. A guy who can basically take over offensively for 3-4 minutes at a time and lead the second unit while the stars are getting rest.

Also just as a rule, you need to surround your star players with shooters. Shooting is the most valuable skill in basketball, and outside of Tatum (38.6%), Brown (39.7%) and Pritchard (41.1%) there was a real scarcity on this team. Smart’s percentages sort of came back to earth this year, and Kemba was too often either inconsistent or unavailable. If the Celtics can add a reliable shooter, resign Fournier, and hope Nesmith or Ojeleye continues to improve, I think it will add some much needed spacing to the offense.

Size

The Celtics found themselves going small a lot this season, and unfortunately it was more a deficiency in personnel than it was a tactical decision. I think this team could use a big wing player that can step in and play a little PF when the team is going smaller and some wing when they go big.

The Kemba Walker Discussion

Ok, it’s time that we talk about Kemba Walker. This is a conversation that I am truly dreading because I genuinely like Kemba as a player and as a human being.

There’s a million reasons why signing Kemba two season ago was the right move. We were just exiting an acrimonious relationship with another point guard, and he was the natural rebound. He was well-liked and a leader and could do many of the same types of things on the court.

At the time I had reservations about giving a 5’10” 29-year-old point guard with knee issues a 4 year $140 million deal. The track record on guys like this is…. dogshit. And those fears have certainly not been allayed. He missed virtually the entire first half of this season, and he missed 26 games in year one. For superstars the best ability is availability, and Kemba just hasn’t been able to stay on the court consistently.

And when he is on the court, you never know which Kemba you are going to get. Some nights you get the dynamic, shifty guard who can go for 30 no problem. But other nights he just disappears. He’s slow, or his shot isn’t falling, or he just looks out of sorts. And when that happens he becomes a matchup liability. It doesn’t matter if you have elite defenders like Smart and Tatum and Brown around him. In big games, particularly playoff games, he’s going to be ruthlessly hunted and targeted in switches.

I think that Tatum and Brown have established themselves as the cornerstones of this franchise moving forward. And I’m just not sure that an undersized, scoring point guard is complimentary to their growth and ultimately to the teams success.

I love Kemba Walker. He’s a great guy, an exciting player, and has given the Celtics everything. But if this team wants to seriously contend for a title, I just don’t see a way for this roster to get any better with Kemba Walker making $36 million per year. Your third or fourth most valuable player commanding that kind of contract is just unsustainable, and I think the Celtics need to seriously explore getting off that deal.

However it’s not so simple. Kemba still has two years left on his deal, and he earns about $35 million per season. No team is going to take that kind of money on willingly, and cap room in the NBA right now is tight especially in the “no growth” cap environment. In other words, it’s going to be very difficult to just dump Kemba’s contract. So any deal involving Kemba is going to have to bring in a comparable contract.

The Offseason Blueprint

Here is how they can go about addressing these deficiencies, in specific terms.

The Head Coaching Search

I never thought I would be saying this so soon, but the Celtics need a new head coach. It’s been eight years since Brad Stevens took over the team, and during that time Stevens had solidified himself as one of the leagues best tactical minds.

It’s hard to say what this team is going to be looking for in terms of a head coach. Stevens is sort of an unknown quantity leading a front office. We know how good he is as a coach, but I think running a whole team is a different animal. And choosing the right head coach is perhaps the most important structural decision a President of Basketball Operations has to make.

I think the biggest thing to watch in terms of the decision making process is how involved the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are in the search. I think if we have learned anything in the Player Empowerment Era, it’s that star players want to be involved in this process. I hardly think that they will be calling the shots like Lebron, but I think it would be a pretty simple gesture to at the very least keep the Jay’s abreast of what’s going on. They are the pillars of this team going forwards, and keeping them engaged and involved is just good business.

Internally there are certainly some strong candidates. Assistant coaches Jamie Young and Jay Larranaga have been with Stevens since day one, so they are all quite familiar with the system and how he likes things run. But both lack the NBA pedigree, and it would be both coaches first head coaching gig. Which leads me to believe they will be going with an external candidate. Here is my shortlist:

Former Celtics assistant and current Duke Women’s coach Kara Lawson has been emerged as a strong candidate. She was well-liked during her years in Boston, and I think the existing relationship she has with Brad and the Jay’s would make her an excellent choice. Lawson would also be the first female head coach in the history of any of the four major US sports, which would be a very cool.

Former Celtics guard and NBA journeyman Sam Cassell has also been floated. Currently an assistant for the Sixers under Doc Rivers, he’s been an NBA assistant for twelve years. Cassell was an instrumental locker room presence during the Celtics 2008 championship run. I think Cassell would make a great choice as coach for two reasons; he’s a former player who hails from the Doc Rivers coaching tree, which points to him being a player-coach. He understands superstars and I think we need someone like that to foster the growth of the Jays. He also has some existing familiarity in Boston, and that would help him get off on the right foot here.

Spurs assistant Becky Hammon also fits the bill. A former WNBA superstar, she’s been on Gregg Popovich’s staff for 6 years and is widely respected around the league. I suspect she’s waiting in the wings to take over for Pop when he retires, but if the Celtics could coax her away it would be a coup.

Resign Evan Fournier

I’ll go on to discuss a few players that the Celtics should be targeting in the draft and free agency to address some of the concerns from before. But to me, priority one is resigning Evan Fournier. I don’t think the layperson got a good idea of what kind of player he is in his short time in Boston. He pretty much got COVID right off the bat, and he even admitted that he was suffering from some serious long-term side affects. And for that reason he never really had a chance to get his sea legs or build and type of chemistry before the playoffs started. To say he got off on the wrong foot is an understatement.

But the fact is that Fournier kind of ticks all the boxes that the Celtics are looking for. He’s a great shooter and a willing passer. He’s got size. He can gel perfectly alongside Tatum and Brown in a starting unit, and he can be the primary scorer for the second unit. He’s only 28 years old. He’s probably the best wing scorer available in free agency, if not at least in the top-3. Plus they have his Bird rights, which means that they can go over the salary cap in order to sign him. This could be valuable trade asset down the road.

The question, as always, will come down to money. Fournier made $17 million last season. I think that the Celtics can have him for something in the $16-$20 million per season range. And I think that a 3 or 4 year deal would be prudent as well. His game strikes me as one that will age well, and even in year four he’d only be 32.

Get Time Lord Extension Done


Robert Williams becomes extension eligible this summer, and I think the Celtics should get it done sooner than later. My thinking is that the longer the season goes on, the more valuable he proves himself, and the more money it’s going to require. Fortunately for the front office, I don’t think that it’s going to take an astronomical number to get it done. At this point they are more signing him on promise rather than results. I think a Clint Capella (4yrs/$100m) or even a Christian Wood (3yrs/$41m) sized deal is probably too high for Rob considering his production and his health is still a huge question mark. If I’m the Celtics I’m giving him more years in exchange for a smaller deal, with built in incentives for things like minutes played. I think a 4 year deal in the $35-40m range gets the extension done. However Rob is a restricted free agent, meaning he can seek out another deal elsewhere at the end of the season, which the Celtic have the opportunity to match. It’s possible someone swoops in and gives him something like 2yrs/$35ish million depending on how next season goes. This would probably be too much for Boston with a Marcus Smart deal looming, and only stresses the urgency in getting something done sooner rather than later.

Get off Thompson

Tristian Thompsons time as a Celtic has basically been a disaster. He was billed as an energy guy who can defend the rim, not be a disaster switching onto guards, and be Kanter-esque in his rebounding ability. He was virtually none of those things this season. I’ve never seen someone with so little touch down low take so many hook shots.

If he was, say, our third big guy that would be one thing. But your third big guy can’t be making $9.7 million dollars per season. With Tatums extension kicking in that cap space is simply too valuable. I think they need to cut their losses and move on. Would most likely be a salary dump.

Free Agency Targets

There are a couple free agents in this summers crop that, if the Celtics are willing to pay, can provide an immediate boost.

Lonzo Ball - His elite vision and passing skills paired with his defensive prowess would be an immediate boon to the Celtics backcourt. Lonzo is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and I think many teams have their eye on him after he sort of proved he can shoot the ball last season. He could command a salary in the $15-20 million range which might be too rich for Boston’s blood. But if they lose Fournier, or manage to move Thompson, then Ball could be an intriguing fit.

Kyle Anderson - sort of the light version of Gordon Hayward. Good vision and passing skills from everywhere on the court. He kind of does a little of everything, a la Evan Turner. Anderson won’t break the bank salary-wise either. The only real issue is that the Celtics sort of have an abundance of wing players (Tatum, Brown, Nesmith, Langford, Ojeleye) and taking on a sixth might be ill-advised when they front and back court needs so much help.

Demar Derozan - Derozan is 32 years old, and at this point I think he’s approaching the “want to win a championship” phase of his career. He’s an incredible scorer and has become a quite competent distributor. I can’t really gauge the market here because on one hand he’s probably the biggest name free agent out there, but on the other his production has definitely diminished.

Norman Powell - Powell combines a certain toughness and scoring ability that I think would fit perfectly on the Celtics. He can anchor a second unit scoring-wise, and fit in nicely alongside Tatum and Brown as a spot up shooter.

Some Trades

These hyopthetical trades all pretty much involve moving Kemba Walker for a serious upgrade.

Domatas Sabonis

Indiana runs much of there offense though Sabonis who likes to play the mid and low post. Similar to Al Horford, he can facilitate to cutting wings from the mid/high post as easily as he can be the screener on a pick and roll. Landing Sabonis would be extremely difficult. He’s a cornerstone in Indiana and It would most likely require moving 2 solid young players as well as at least two first round picks. Also, there’s no indication that he wants to go anywhere. A deal might look something like this:

Boston receives: Domatas Sabonis

Indiana receives: Tristian Thompson, Romeo Langford, Payton Pritchard, 2021 1st Round Pick, 2022 First Round Pick

Bradley Beal

The affinity between Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum is no secret, both being from St. Louis and attending the same high school. The likelihood of Washington moving Beal seemed almost like a foregone conclusion two months ago before the Wizards stormed their way to the play in game and the 8th seed. A deal to secure Beal would probably come with a hefty price tag. A deal would have to involve Kemba Walker in order to match his salary, and it would likely take parting ways with a buttload of first round picks.

Boston receives: Bradley Beal

Washington receives: Kemba Walker, 2021 First Round Pick, 2023 First Round Pick, 2025 First Round Pick

Harrison Barnes

Barnes is a veteran scorer who can fit nicely alongside the Celtics existing core of players. He would give them a steady third scorer and someone who can match up with the likes of KD, Julius Randle, and Ben Simmons competently. The Kings can cut bait with the disastrous Marvin Bagley draft pick, and maybe a change of scenery will do him good.

Boston receives: Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley

Sacramento receives: Kemba Walker, Romeo Langford, 2023 First Round Pick