The Boston Celtics will be an interesting team to watch leading up to the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline.
Not only have the C’s established themselves as legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference, they also have one significant shortcoming (front-court size) yet several intriguing assets (young talent, draft picks, etc.) with which to address that potentially fatal flaw.
The problem for Boston on the trade market will be matching salaries, especially since Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum — Boston’s core, for all intents and purposes — seemingly are untouchable. But that won’t stop rumors from floating around over the next several weeks.
The Celtics already have been linked to the likes of Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons and Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards. On Thursday, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus threw a new name into the mix: Danilo Gallinari of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
An NBA source told Pincus Boston has monitored Gallinari in its quest to add size, an area where the Celtics currently are head and shoulders below their primary Eastern Conference competitors, the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers. Gallinari, at 6-foot-10, certainly would add that element, while also providing the Celtics with additional scoring punch.
Gallinari, who was traded to OKC in July as part of the deal that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, entered Friday averaging 18.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 30.3 minutes per game this season. Those numbers pretty much are in line with the career norms he established while playing for the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and Clippers before joining the Thunder.
Pincus notes several teams, including the Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns, are pursuing Gallinari, who’s earning $22.6 million in the final year of his contract. Boston reportedly would need to ship out at least $17.6 million to match Gallinari’s salary, meaning Danny Ainge likely would need to trade Gordon Hayward or Marcus Smart to land such a player — assuming the aforementioned core really is untouchable.
Would the trade-off be worth it for the Celtics, who currently sit behind only the Bucks and Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference standings? That’s a question they’ll need to answer at some point as they continue to piece together a front court alongside their talented, versatile group of wing players.
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