Once again, the Boston Celtics enter the upcoming season as the odds-on-favorites to lift the Larry O'Brien trophy in June 2024. However, aside from Kristaps Porzingis' concerning plantar fasciitis injury, there is one other wrinkle that could prevent Boston from ending a 16-year title drought next year: Malcolm Brogdon's discontent with the Celtics heading into the 2023-24 season.
Brogdon's feelings about the franchise stems from the Celtics' failed attempt to trade the reigning Sixth Man of the Year during the offseason. Boston had already traded Brogdon to the Los Angeles Clippers in the initial deal that landed them Kristaps Porzingis. But in the end, the trade was nixed after the Clippers reportedly had concerns about the 30-year-old's health.
Since then, the Celtics completed their acquisition of Porzingis and ended up trading Marcus Smart instead to the Memphis Grizzlies. Meanwhile, the Celtics remain stuck with the 2016-17 Rookie of the Year and it seems like he did not appreciate being a trade piece, considering he did become the league's top Sixth Man for Boston last year.
Brogdon's displeasure with the franchise is a real concern the Celtics should address prior to the beginning of the season. There are a few different ways Boston can go about this situation. Here are three moves the Boston Celtics must make amidst Malcolm Brogdon's discontent with the organization.
1. Trade Malcolm Brogdon
Perhaps the most logical outcome of this dicey dilemma ends with Boston actually trading Malcolm Brogdon. Trying to trade a player, then ending up not doing so because the other team didn't want to acquire them anymore must be such an awkward situation. With that, Brad Stevens has no choice but to look for a potential trade for Brogdon.
One potential move the Celtics could make is to bring Brogdon back to the Indiana Pacers while acquiring sharp-shooter Buddy Hield. Hield and the Pacers are reportedly exploring trades after both sides failed to agree on a contract extension. Buddy Buckets could be a potential target for Boston as his elite three-point shooting will give the Celtics another potent option from the perimeter.
With how well he played his Sixth Man role for the Celtics, it's clear that Boston still values what Brogdon brings to the table. At the end of the day, he is still one of the steadiest floor generals in the NBA and he provides them with so much on both ends of the floor. Last season, Brogdon averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and an elite 44.4 percent from beyond the three-point line.
Unfortunately, he just wasn't able to fully contribute right when the Celtics needed him. Brogdon played through a partially torn tendon in his right arm during their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat and was severely limited in what he could do.
It is possible this is the reason Boston decided to initially part ways with him. But nonetheless, with how this situation unfolded and how Brogdon is feeling, the Celtics can find a potential deal that could still bring them a valuable piece to their championship puzzle.
2. Start Malcolm Brogdon
If the Celtics want to attempt getting back into Malcolm Brogdon's good graces, perhaps the move to show their point guard they value him may be to give him the starting job. Brogdon thrived as Boston's top reserve last season. He came off the bench in all of his 67 appearances en route to winning the 2022-23 Sixth Man of the Year award.
The Celtics already traded away their starting point guard in Marcus Smart this offseason. While they had a lot of success in bringing Brogdon off the bench, they should consider elevating him as the starter over Derrick White. Boston could give Brogdon a look in the starting unit. The Celtics have long needed someone who can run the first unit and ease the primary playmaking duties from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. While Tatum and Brown have improved their playmaking skills over the last couple of years, they still thrive best as primary scorers and could become more efficient if somebody sets them up once in a while.
Brogdon could be that guy and get the two star wings going from the get-go.
3. Play Jayson Tatum at point guard
ESPN senior analyst Ramona Shelbourne said that Jayson Tatum is expected to “spend a lot of time” running the point for Boston this season with the Malcolm Brogdon situation unfolding.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 20, 2023
Boston has been grooming Tatum to take the lead playmaking duties over the last couple of seasons. The four-time All-Star has shown steady improvement in that aspect of his game throughout his six-year career. He averaged a career-best 4.6 dimes last season and his assists per game have risen in every year he's been in the league.
This is certainly going to be risky experiment on the part of the Celtics, given Tatum isn't really known as a playmaker first. Nonetheless, this move could show that Boston has a lot of trust in their franchise superstar to be the kind of superstar LeBron James or Nikola Jokic is in terms of being the main playmakers of their team.
It will be interesting how this will affect Malcolm Brogdon. Will the Celtics continue bringing him off the bench or move him for another piece while Tatum takes the main reigns at PG?