The Celtics own the best record in the Eastern Conference through roughly one month of the 2019-20 NBA season, so it should come as no surprise that Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is in no rush to break up the band.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday, while exploring whether the Celtics could trade for a center at some point, that Boston has no plans to deal any of its core players, including Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart.
Here’s what Windhorst wrote:
The reality is, the Celtics don’t have easy options even if they were determined to upgrade in the middle. While one could have some fun with the Trade Machine, Boston has made it clear to anyone who has asked that their core players are absolutely not available. That includes, sources said, both Hayward and Smart, players who have been floated as possible trade chips in the past.
Presumably, the “core” includes Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in addition to Hayward and Smart, in which case finding a trade partner could prove difficult for Boston. As Windhorst mentions, only two other players — Enes Kanter ($4.8 million) and Daniel Theis ($5 million) — are scheduled to earn more than $4 million this season. It’ll be hard to match salaries. Plus, Kanter and Theis are centers, so it wouldn’t make much sense to trade either, anyway.
This doesn’t mean the Celtics won’t make a trade before the Feb. 6 deadline. They still have several intriguing young players and a collection of draft picks, including the Memphis Grizzlies’ first-rounder that is top-six protected in 2020 and unprotected in 2021. Swinging a deal would require some serious creativity from Trader Danny, however, and the Celtics thus far have shown an ability to win games despite lacking size up front.