The 1 trade the Celtics need to make right now
After having a coaching change over the offseason, the Boston Celtics are still struggling to get their rhythm in the early parts of the 2021-22 NBA season. Currently, things haven’t been looking pretty for them as they are sitting at the 10th spot of the Eastern Conference with a 10-10 record.
Certainly enough, this wasn’t the start that Boston envisioned to have prior to this campaign. Due to these early struggles, both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been criticized for focusing on their individual numbers rather than prioritizing getting their teammates involved.
Despite the swirling rumors, both players are undoubtedly great talents who have the potential to be a solid 1-2 punch in the years to come. Though they already have a couple of All-Star appearances under their belt, they still have untapped potential that they have yet to reach in their young careers. With that said, it is better for the Celtics to work on improving their chemistry now instead of pulling the trigger and trading either Tatum or Brown which they might regret doing later on.
1 trade the Celtics need to make
As of the moment, Ime Udoka’s squad could use more help in the frontcourt in the form of a big man who can grab rebounds and is versatile enough to run the floor. This help could come in the form of Chris Boucher from the Toronto Raptors. The Canadian previously had a stellar 2020-21 season in which he averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks through 60 games played. Despite his vastly improved numbers, the Raptors failed to nab wins as they finished 12th in the East last season.
Still somewhat in rebuilding mode in 2021-22, Toronto is currently looking to develop young guys rather than going all out and trying to win now, especially after veteran playmaker Kyle Lowry went to the Miami Heat. Initially, one would think that the team’s outlook would potentially give plenty of minutes to a young talent like Boucher. However, that hasn’t been the case, as he has fallen down the team’s depth chart and is playing behind Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch, and Precious Achiuwa.
Through 19 appearances this season, Boucher’s numbers are down to 5.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks in 13.9 minutes per game of action. Surely enough, the 28-year-old has already shown that he can produce when he is given opportunities on the floor. Boucher still has more untapped potential, and him not getting that many minutes will only stunt his development moving forward.
Perhaps a change of scenery would do wonders for him, and Boston is looking like a promising destination where he could see significant action and contribute to a team that is trying to climb up the standings. Currently, the Celtics still have ways to go in terms of defense, and Boucher’s length and versatility could help in that department.
Boucher is also not a ball-dominant player and can play within his role, given that the team already has two stars in Tatum and Brown plus Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder as point guards. This would allow him to have a smoother transition within the Celtics’ system and not disrupt the existing chemistry that the players already have right now.
In exchange for him, Brad Stevens probably wouldn’t have to give up too much. Boucher is currently making around $7 million on an expiring contract, and Boston does have trade exceptions available to absorb his contract. The Celtics are over the luxury tax, though, so they would probably look to send some salary back in a trade. Juan Hernangomez has a similar contract as Boucher, or perhaps Boston looks to include younger players who aren’t playing much. There’s also the option of including draft picks, though including a first-round pick shouldn’t be on the table.
Admittedly, Boucher is still a work in progress, but he can still be a valuable asset if Udoka finds a way to maximize his potential as a modern-day big man. Ultimately, giving a shot to Boucher wouldn’t be that big of a gamble, especially if Stevens gets to unload players who are not currently part of the team’s regular rotation. If things went right, Boucher would help the Celtics get back on track.