NBA Executive Proposes Risky Celtics Trade That ‘Makes Some Sense’

Should Boston look to buy low on Jonathan Isaac?

by

September 27

Ever since Danilo Gallinari suffered an ACL injury during a FIBA World Cup qualifier game on Aug. 27, there’s been speculation about how the Boston Celtics might replace the production they expected to receive from the 34-year-old forward this season.

Gallinari, at 6-foot-10, figured to add both size and shooting off the bench, and the Celtics therefore could use additional frontcourt help as they look to repeat as Eastern Conference champions in the 2022-23 campaign.

Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney spoke to one Eastern Conference general manager who proposed the Celtics consider trading guards Derrick White and Payton Pritchard for Orlando Magic big man Jonathan Isaac.

Isaac, the sixth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, hasn’t played the last two seasons after tearing his ACL, but the 6-foot-11 Florida State product will turn just 25 next week and still has intriguing upside. This could be an opportunity to buy low on a potential core piece, albeit with substantial risk given Isaac’s injury history and the importance of both White and Pritchard to Boston’s current rotation.

“The problem with White is he has a lot more value for Boston than he does anywhere else,” the anonymous GM told Deveney. “How do you deal someone like that who has $17 million on his deal this year and another $37 million to go? You will have to take back a bad contract. If you did White and Pritchard and the Magic were willing to move on from Jonathan Isaac, that would be a really interesting deal.

“Isaac is 24. You could have him grow as a role player with (Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown, just be an excellent defender. That would be an impressive defensive team. And Orlando does not know what to do with Isaac now. They need guards. Isaac is not the easiest personality, but they have some culture there. It makes some sense.”

Sure, such a trade makes some sense. Isaac showed real promise in his first three seasons, and he’d certainly address an area of need for the Celtics, especially with center Robert Williams III expected to be sidelined for 8 to 12 weeks after undergoing knee surgery.

But Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens would need to determine whether he’d essentially be robbing Peter to pay Paul. Boston signed point guard Malcolm Brogdon this offseason, so the team’s backcourt depth looks great on paper. Trading White and/or Pritchard — two key bench pieces — risks weakening that strength, though, and it’s still unclear when Isaac will be ready for game action and how effective he’ll be.

Basically, it’s a fascinating hypothetical. Just don’t be surprised if the Celtics stand pat or explore other options.

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