NBA insiders speculate the Celtics as a team that could do ‘something interesting’ on the trade market

The Celtics fell to 13-14 on Friday, raising questions on how good the team is after going 1-4 on their West Coast trip.

Brad Stevens could be tasked with revamping the Celtics' roster midseason. Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

New Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens might have to get busy revamping the roster again.

After going 1-4 on their West Coast road trip to drop to 13-14 on the season, the Celtics already sit in a situation where it feels like something has to change.

Of course, they were without All-Star wing Jaylen Brown for the entire recent road trip and have been without him for 13 of the last 18 games. His return to the lineup, which appears to be imminent, could provide the Celtics the jolt they need to get back on track.

But even with Brown’s return looming, NBA insiders speculate the Celtics as a team who could be active on the trade market, especially with free agents who were signed over the offseason eligible to be traded beginning on Wednesday.


“I want to say this carefully – this is just my speculation, only my speculation – the team I’m watching to come off the top rope with something interesting – if they continue sputtering along, which is exactly what they’re doing – is Boston,” ESPN NBA analyst and insider Zach Lowe said on Friday’s “The Lowe Post” podcast. “Boston is 13-13, that’s not good enough.”

“I think we have good reason to be high on Boston (as a potential team to make moves),” Lowe added. “Their schedule for this month is brutal and they could be easily three games under .500 next time we talk. I don’t know even what it would look like but at some point, that mix is not getting you to where you think it should go.”

Lowe does have a point that it could get much worse for the Celtics before it gets better. While they begin a five-game homestand starting on Monday, four of the five teams they’ll face are currently above .500 (Bucks, Warriors, 76ers, and Cavaliers). They play the Bucks again on Christmas Day and have rematches against the Clippers and Suns, who each defeated the Celtics this past week, to close out the month.


If it does get worse soon, Lowe believes the Celtics have a big question to answer.

“You have to ask a question as a franchise: Is it the two best players are not amplifying each other and the rest of the team to the degree that we should? Or is it that we have the wrong group of players around them?” Lowe said. “I think it’s early to ask that question now. I don’t expect Boston to do anything dramatic this season because Tatum and Brown are so damn good. And by the way, Tatum’s found his stride in the last couple of weeks and is playing with more decisiveness and attacking mentality a lot of people want to see.

“At some point, they are going to ask that question. I don’t think it’s going to be this year and we’ll see how the rest of the season goes – and Jaylen Brown’s hurt and he’s missed the last bunch of games – but they’re still just not good enough.”

If the Celtics decide to change the roster around Tatum and Brown, former NBA executive turned ESPN NBA front office insider Bobby Marks believes they’ll have multiple avenues to work out a trade.


“When you have teams that still have all their first-round picks, then you certainly have to circle them,” Marks said on “The Lowe Post.” “Then you have Josh Richardson and Marcus Smart, $30 million in contracts there, certainly Horford’s a big number. And then you’ve got a mix of all these former first-round picks, so there are things there to get a deal done.

“Now it’s a question if you’re willing to push multiple [first-round picks] to the middle here and do something drastic right now or you get Jaylen Brown back healthy and reassess where you are.”

Not everyone on the Celtics roster will become trade eligible on Wednesday. Dennis Schroder and Enes Kanter Freedom will become eligible to get traded after signing with the Celtics over the offseason, but Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, and Josh Richardson will not. Because all three players signed extensions over the offseason, they each won’t be eligible to be traded until late January.

As Marks mentioned, the Celtics have four players they’ve picked in the first round of the draft since 2019. But they might not have much trade value.

“There is not much interest in those former first-round picks that Boston has from Payton Pritchard, to Romeo Langford, to Grant Williams. I think Aaron Nesmith has the highest value of the players in that group,” Bleacher Report NBA insider Jake Fischer said on Sirius XM Radio on Saturday. “It’s difficult, and that’s why they’re kind of in the situation that they’re in right now. They had draft pick after draft pick after draft pick that hasn’t netted them anything more than back of the rotation type players. And they haven’t really developed outside of that besides Robert Williams and they are where they are.”


With the rest of the roster around them struggling, Fischer believes the Celtics could make the decision to separate their two young stars soon.

“I think this is definitely the beginning of the end of the Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown pairing,” Fischer said. “I don’t know if that will get broken up this season, but I think sometime in the next 12-18 months we’re really going to start to hear conversations about the future of Boston with Jaylen Brown heading out the door.”

Around the league, there already have been rumors on who might get traded soon. The Ben Simmons saga in Philadelphia appears to be nearing its end. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Lowe reported Friday that the 76ers have gained momentum on trading the star point guard in recent days. The Celtics have been one of the teams reportedly linked to Simmons, with Brown being named as a player the 76ers would want in return.

In addition to his report on Simmons, Wojnarowski added that the Trail Blazers have no interest in trading star point guard Damian Lillard. NBA insiders have viewed the Celtics as a potential fit if the Blazers make Lillard available.

The Pacers might be starting a rebuild soon. If they are, All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, center Myles Turner, and guard Caris Levert could all potentially get traded, The Athletic‘s Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz reported Tuesday.


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