Logan Gooley ‘24
Celtics fans, I understand how outraged you are by the title of this article, but please, hear me out. Looking back on March 25th, 2021, the Celtics traded Jeff Teague alongside two second-round picks for Orlando Magic shooting guard Evan Fournier. The trade also essentially forced Ainge’s hand to move away from Daniel Theis, as Fournier’s salary cost the Celtics $17 million of their $28.5 million trade exception. Ainge subsequently traded fan-favorite Theis as well as Javonte Green for Mo Wagner and Luke Kornet from the Chicago Bulls. While these moves appeared to lead the Celtics to a six game win streak after the deadline, the team has once again slumped back to sub-par status, fighting to stay above the play-in tournament.
The moves Ainge made did not address the team’s 13th ranked defensive efficiency and 14th ranked rebounding. It is impossible for the Celtics to garner any playoff victories with such statistics, even in today’s offensive minded NBA. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Evan Fournier, Luke Kornet, and Mo Wagner (who they waived) aren’t going to fill that defensive and rebounding hole. While the latest addition of Jabari Parker helps, he still mostly adds another wing defender and not a paint protector. If the Celtics wanted to make a team to win in the playoffs, they either had to trade for Myles Turner or sign Andre Drummond after his buyout. The Celtics crucially needed their defensive and rebounding skills, and by missing out on them, the Celtics have a low chance of going far in the playoffs, which is the entire goal of the game. I can guarantee that the Celtics will not be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, and if they slip below the five seed, they will be eliminated in the first round.
While the Celtics may be the sixth-youngest team in the NBA at an average age of 24.7, these Celtics can not compete for a championship and should have blown the roster except for Tatum, Brown, Williams, and Smart. I would have traded Kemba Walker to teams with large amounts of cap space such as Chicago or Houston in exchange for assets and picks. I then would have traded Thompson and Theis for a young center or power forward and picks, allowing the Celtics to give Robert Williams the minutes he deserves. Finally, I would have traded for point guard Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans, as his elite passing skills and court IQ would have been a perfect fit for Tatum and Brown, as they need a facilitator to get them the ball in their spots to give them better opportunities. These moves would have created cap space and draft picks to surround Tatum and Brown as they continue to develop while also creating a team that could do just as well, if not better than the current Celtics.