The Boston Celtics don’t have a ton of flexibility ahead of the NBA trade deadline.
Sure, they have some assets that could appeal to teams across The Association. But it’s hard to imagine the C’s swinging a franchise-altering blockbuster without dealing either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown.
And as Adrian Wojnarowski explained Monday on ESPN’s “NBA Today,” that’s a road Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens isn’t willing to go down right now, leaving Boston to more or less work in the margins over the next several weeks.
“It’s to build around Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum; not to break those two up,” Wojnarowski said of the Celtics’ trade deadline mindset. “I think the hard part for Boston is, what are the other tradeable assets that they’re willing to move on from?
“They don’t want to trade Robert Williams, their young center. That’s a player that they really see, I think, at the center — figuratively — of what they’re doing moving forward. But I think Marcus Smart, some of the young players on the roster, second- and third-year guards, forwards, I think they’re seeing what the value for those players out there (is). Josh Richardson. And Dennis Schröder, that’s a player I think that if they can keep building up his value — he’s on a one-year deal, $6 million contract — I think those are all players available on the marketplace.
“Can that get them involved on a Ben Simmons? No, it can’t. But I think they still want to find another playmaker, wing player, to complement the two All-Star forwards.”
The Celtics have struggled to find their footing again this season, raising questions about Boston’s long-term potential with Tatum and Brown. Can the tandem coexist as the faces of an NBA Finals contender?
The best-case scenario seemingly would be for the Celtics to add a third star alongside the dynamic duo — with Simmons, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal among the high-profile players linked to Boston in social media trade speculation. But that’s obviously easier said than done.
The Celtics ultimately might need to wait until the offseason to make any significant changes to their roster. That doesn’t mean they’ll be inactive with the Feb. 10 trade deadline looming — Stevens himself acknowledged they’ll be active making and answering phone calls — but it probably limits their ceiling for the 2021-22 NBA campaign.