The Boston Celtics apparently feel they can still make some noise during the 2021 NBA season.
The Celtics kicked off their deadline day Thursday by reportedly acquiring French swingman Evan Fournier from the Orlando Magic in exchange for two second-round draft picks.
Given Fournier’s contract situation — he’s on an expiring deal and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer — the Celtics either believe they can re-sign Fournier, or they’re willing to take the risk on a rental for this season.
This is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. The first is quite simple: Boston doesn’t look like a title contender right now. Boston’s 21-23 record sits eighth in the Eastern Conference, and the Celtics have looked downright lost for a while now. The C’s are just 13-20 after starting the year 8-3. Second, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge recently admitted his team isn’t built to win an NBA title.
So, does Fournier change that? Probably not, but it’s a solid addition, especially for a team that is swimming in draft picks and back-end roster players.
The 6-foot-7 Fournier is a former first-round pick, who was having a pretty good year on a bad Magic team. He’s averaging just under 20 points in 26 games with Orlando, shooting 46 percent from the floor. He should add a deep-ball threat, too, hitting on 39 percent of his 3-point attempts this year. It’s unlikely he sees anywhere near the same volume of shots (currently averaging a career-high 14.2 field-goal attempts per game), but he should provide an offensive boost for a team ranking 18th in points per game.
It also feels like there’s some sort of chemistry issue in Boston, and it’s possible Fournier can help in that regard, too.
Fournier alone isn’t enough to save the Celtics’ season. Boston fans should be encouraged by Ainge’s willingness to actually do something, however, and try to fix the obvious issues with the roster. That he’s doing so with a rental like Fournier seems to signal there’s short-term optimism a turnaround is possible.
That also might be a sign of even more things to come for the Celtics on deadline day. If they’re truly committed to contending in 2021, they’ll need it.