It seems to be something of a consensus among general managers around the NBA that the Boston Celtics are attempting to make a big trade before the beginning of the season, with players like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin on their shortlist.
The Celtics quickly bounced back from their 2013-2014 season, and made the playoffs the last two years without signing anyone expensive or losing assets. They accumulated draft picks, developed their young players, and added good pieces like Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas. It’s been good enough to get them into the postseason two years in a row, but twice to get knocked out in the first round, once by the Cleveland Cavaliers (2015) and a year later by the Atlanta Hawks (4-2).
The plan, heading into the offseason, was to use their cap space and draft picks, along with some players they don’t think can become a vital part of a bright future, and land two players: Al Horford and Kevin Durant. They succeeded with Horford, but missed out on Durant, who was blinded by the lights of the Golden State Warriors. The Celtics were probably his number 2 choice, even ahead of the Thunder.
And this leaves the Thunder in a position of difficulty. They have Russell Westbrook entering a contract season, knowing he’s leaving at the end of the year, opening him up to a trade. The Celtics seem to be the team best positioned to make that trade. The Thunder will probably demand a king’s ransom for it, but the Celtics, if they get the indication that Westbrook will re-sign with them or extend his deal (like James Harden did with the Rockets), have pieces to make that deal happen.
But Boston are looking in a number of direction. Last season changed something for the Los Angeles Clippers, and they might finally be convinced that the Chris Paul – Blake Griffin era isn’t going to end with a title. Doc Rivers has failed to improve the team around them or the Clippers as a group. So Griffin getting traded might finally be a realistic option. Again, the Celtics have the pieces to make this deal happen without completely gutting the roster. It’s more of a question of will the Clippers be willing to wheel and deal.
One last name that the Celtics would love to add is Kevin Love. However, the Cavaliers seem to have no interest in trading their power forward. Overall, the situation is this: The Celtics are letting everyone know they’re open for business, waiting for someone to pick up the phone and call them with a good offer on the other side of that line.