The next few days could go any number of ways for the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics have greatly exceeded expectations so far this season and own the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed at the NBA All-Star break. But with the revamped Toronto Raptors and elite Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of them, it’s highly unlikely the C’s as they’re currently constructed could make a run all the way to the NBA Finals, where they’d inevitably get crushed by the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs.
Yet the NBA’s Feb. 18 trade deadline could change things, as Boston has surfaced in a few rumors involving some big-name players. While these rumors vary widely in truth and likelihood, it’s still fun to speculate which players would make a good fit with the Celtics if president of basketball operations Danny Ainge somehow could swing a deal.
Here are four players mentioned in the NBA rumor mill who we’d be fine seeing in green and white — for the right price, of course.
Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Rumors tying Horford to Boston have cooled amid reports that Atlanta has a very high asking price, and his contract expires this summer, so he’d just be a rental. But there’s no denying Horford’s talent. The four-time All-Star would fill the Celtics’ need for a go-to scorer in the frontcourt and also plays well on the defensive end, making him a great fit for Brad Stevens’ system. If the Hawks drop their price for Horford as the deadline approaches, expect Ainge to swoop in and make an offer for the 29-year-old.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
As with Horford, rumors that Love could come to Boston have, to some extent, been squashed. But there’s a reason the Celtics have coveted Love since his days with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 27-year-old is the star Boston needs in its frontcourt and also provides great value with his ability to stretch the floor. Once again, it’s a long shot, but adding Love would make the Celtics a contender in the East.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings
Yes, Cousins comes with baggage, and there’s a good chance Sacramento would ask for a King’s ransom (get it?) in return for its star. But if the opportunity presents itself to acquire a 25-year-old center who’s averaging 26.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, you take it. Add in the fact that Cousins likely would thrive alongside former Kings teammate Isaiah Thomas, and there’s little we wouldn’t give up to bring in a game-changing big man who could take the C’s to the next level.
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Pelicans
No, Anderson isn’t on the same level as Horford, Love or Cousins. But that also means his asking price would be lower, making him an intriguing target for the Celtics as a complimentary piece. The Pelicans big man is a solid outside shooter who can stretch the floor either in tandem with Kelly Olynyk or as his replacement if Olynyk gets dealt before the deadline. New Orleans is a seller, and bringing in Anderson could be a solid, low-risk move for Boston.
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