The Boston Celtics acquired Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving with sustained success in mind.
But if Bill Simmons’ latest hypothetical Celtics trade ever were to come to fruition, both stars would be on the move this summer.
While most post-NBA draft lottery discussions have centered around the New Orleans Pelicans and New York Knicks, Simmons believes the Memphis Grizzlies are in an equally intriguing spot. The Grizzlies reportedly are all-in on taking Ja Morant with the No. 2 overall pick, which could prompt the exit of one of the greatest players in the franchise’s history. And if Memphis is indeed looking to move on from Mike Conley, Simmons believes Boston could be an apt trading partner.
“(Gordon) Hayward, 14 and 20 for Conley,” Simmons said on The Ringer’s “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” “Boston does that trade and then offers basically (Jayson) Tatum, (Marcus) Smart and every other first-round pick and Robert Williams, whatever. They just Godfather offer for (Anthony) Davis, or try to, and hope to bull New Orleans over with that and then next year it’s basically you’re left with Davis, Mike Conley, Jaylen Brown.”
Simmons admitted Davis likely wouldn’t re-sign with the Celtics under these circumstances. The veteran talking head and diehard C’s fan simply has had enough of Irving and is looking for any way for the star point guard to flee the franchise he loves.
But let’s take the ensuing hypothetical Davis deal out of the equation, as the initial Hayward-Conley trade actually might make sense for Boston. Should Irving walk in free agency as most expect him to, Conley would fill the void at point guard all while stripping the Grizzlies of their leader and best player. This would benefit the Celtics, who still are waiting to cash in on a future Memphis draft pick. The selection is top-six protected next year before becoming completely unprotected in 2021. Hayward, obviously, would improve the Grizzlies, but there’s no guarantee he’ll ever return to being the All-Star player he once was. Not to mention, the money matches up, as both Hayward and Conley are slated to account for $32 million salary cap hits next season and $34 million the year after before hitting free agency in 2021.
In this ideal situation, the Celtics could move forward with a young core of Tatum, Brown, Smart and a future high draft pick. If Boston, for whatever reason, falls out of the Davis sweepstakes, this wouldn’t be the worst Plan B.
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