The Boston Celtics came way too close in bringing home their franchise's 18th title back in June, but unfortunately ran out of steam against the humming well-oiled machine that was the Golden State Warriors led by Stephen Curry.
The dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown rose to the occasion and dispatched Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks, and Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat in their playoff revenge tour.
However, by the time the end of the finals rolled along, they appeared to be overburdened with their offensive responsibilities after squaring off against the stout perimeter defense led by Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and the emergent Andrew Wiggins.
It was clear that the Boston Celtics, helmed by executive Brad Stevens and coach Ime Udoka, needed to acquire another ballhandler, and they did just that earlier in the offseason when they acquired former Buck Malcolm Brogdon from the Indiana Pacers.
Brogdon gives the Celtics another weapon who can create shots out of nothing at a fairly efficient level. He averaged 18.9 points per game in a more featured role with the Pacers, shooting a respectable 35.2% from deep over the past three seasons. The ultimate concern with Brogdon is his inability to stay healthy, as he missed 46 games last season amidst a down year for Indiana.
Guard depth remains as a strength for the Celtics, a potential injury to Brogdon notwithstanding. The backcourt is still helmed by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Payton Pritchard. The big man positions are set as well, with Robert Williams, Al Horford, and Grant Williams also set to return.
Where the Celtics might need reinforcements, especially after the loss of Danilo Gallinari, another recent offseason acquisition, to an ACL injury which would keep him out for most of, if not the entire season, is on the wing, which might be difficult to believe given the presence of Tatum and Brown. The NBA is an arms race, and the Celtics cannot afford to slack off in adding reinforcements. Free agent Carmelo Anthony could be an option, but the Celtics will prefer to add someone who can contribute on both ends.
Here are some targets the Celtics could pursue to further bolster their lineup heading into the 2022-23 NBA season.
Celtics acquire Chuma Okeke from the Orlando Magic
Celtics acquire: Chuma Okeke
Orlando Magic acquire: Trade exception, 2023 2nd-round pick, 2024 top-10 protected Celtics first-round pick
This is not to say that the Celtics have inquired, or are even interested, in Magic's Okeke. Still, Okeke could be a tempting trade target for a team looking for another plus defender on the wing who can knock down open shots.
Okeke, over his brief NBA career, has shown a penchant for active hands and smart defensive positioning, averaging 1.3 steals for his career in only 25 minutes per game. While he isn't a knockdown shooter quite yet, Okeke has shown potential, knocking down 1.5 threes on 4.5 attempts per game (32.6%) in his two seasons in the league. With the Celtics, Okeke doesn't need to do anything off the dribble, offensively. He will be given a chance to fulfill his potential as a swiss-army knife on the wing, who will only be counted upon for timely shooting and defense.
The Magic, who drafted Paolo Banchero with the 1st overall pick in the 2022 draft, have a bit of a logjam on the frontcourt, especially with the impending return of Jonathan Isaac. They could look to cash-in now on an asset that might be left forgotten in a deeper team with higher ambitions.
Cam Reddish finds a new home in Boston
Celtics acquire: Cam Reddish
New York Knicks acquire: Trade exception, 2024 lottery protected Celtics first-round pick
Reddish has seen his stock fluctuate over the past year, peaking with a dynamite performance with the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals against the Bucks, and reaching its nadir after being buried by coach Tom Thibodeau on the Knicks' depth chart after a midseason trade.
The Celtics have nurtured Tatum and Brown into the All-Stars they are right now, and given the right ecosystem, Reddish could find himself following a similar trajectory. The Knicks, on the other hand, could recoup a first-round pick for Reddish who just hasn't been utilized in New York. A first rounder from Boston may not amount to much, but it's still better than watching Reddish walk for nothing.