Well, this is not what the Boston Celtics had in mind when the season started. They’ve constantly hovered around the .500 mark for weeks now and haven’t been able to kick things into gear yet, with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on their 2020-21 campaign.
It has slowly morphed into a question of whether or not they will be able to shift gears in time now as the regular season keeps ticking away. But have no fear, Danny Ainge can always find the right pieces at the trade deadline! The Celtics are usually active this time of the year anyways, so with things looking bleak, expect that aggressive nature to once again be present for Ainge and Boston. This is especially true given the $28.5 million trade exception he has at his disposal.
Here is the Celtics’ biggest need as the deadline looms: Playmaking. They need another solidified playmaker. There are other needs, sure, but adding a playmaker to go with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker could boost Boston entering the postseason.
What has been odd this season with this Celtics team is that they seem lethargic at times, lacking the energy and that hunger that we’ve seen on display for so many seasons recently. It’s something they need but not necessarily something you can just add at the deadline with a player or two. That’s an issue that internally needs to be flipped around.
But back to the playmaking. Aaron Gordon is a name that has been all over the place in trade rumors for quite some time now, and he even officially asked for a trade from the Orlando Magic recently. While he isn’t a ball-dominant player who’s going to constantly take guys off the dribble in one-on-one situations, Gordon can get a bucket. His game has also taken some strides this season in terms of his assist rate, so that playmaking and his defensive presence would be helpful for Boston.
The angle the Celtics need to consider is if there is anybody out there they can acquire that would catapult them fully into one of the premier teams that could win the East this season. Adding Aaron Gordon absolutely helps and would/should improve the Celtics right away. But it doesn’t move the needle enough to compete with the likes of Brooklyn or Milwaukee or even what Philadelphia has done this year. The reality is, there may not be that kind of player available for Boston to trade for.
That shouldn’t deter them, though, from going after Gordon. At 25 years old, Gordon’s combination of freakish athleticism mixed with his ever-growing offensive game and 3-point shooting is something that many teams desire to have. If they were to trade for Gordon and can keep him around in Boston, it could become a long-term play for the Celtics as well.
Tatum and Brown are excellent, which goes without saying. But Boston needs another playmaker. At the end of games this year in crunch time it has largely been Tatum with the ball in his hands and four other Celtics standing still watching him. There have been moments for Brown and Walker, of course, but the majority of the time it’s Tatum with a lot of standing around elsewhere.
Acquiring Aaron Gordon would bring in a player who can get a bucket, give you that extra zest, and provide Tatum and Brown with someone they can go to down the stretch.