NBA experts give differing views on Celtics’ trade deadline moves

"This doesn't feel like a Danny Ainge-type move."

The Celtics' trade for Derrick White received mix reviews. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Not many teams were as active as the Celtics on Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

Boston made three deals, shipping out seven players in total – including Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson – to acquire two, Derrick White and Daniel Theis.

To acquire White, the Celtics gave up Richardson, Romeo Langford, their 2022 first-round pick (top four protected), and the Spurs the right to swap first-round picks in 2028, with the last pick being called “a sneaky little valuable treat” for the Spurs by ESPN NBA expert Zach Lowe.

By giving up a first-round pick in June’s draft, Brad Stevens has traded his first two first-round picks since he became the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. ESPN NBA front office insider Bobby Marks took notice of that in particular, calling Thursday a “good day” for the Celtics.


“I like Derrick White. I’m a fan,” Marks said on “The Lowe Post” podcast. “He’s kind of been up and down a bit this year here. That pick swap in 2028 could be something. The pick this year is probably going to be in the teens. Josh Richardson’s got another year left on his contract. I’m not sure what to say about Romeo Langford, what do we have here?”

“For Boston, it feels like they’re saying ‘We’re not content. We want to get into the top six. We want to get in with Derrick White and Daniel Theis. We traded away some backend guys and got under the luxury tax.’ It was a good day for them, but it cost them.

“This doesn’t feel like a Danny Ainge-type move. It’s just kind of like a changing of the guard how they function.”

As Marks noted, the Celtics were relatively quiet at the deadline in the final few seasons of Ainge’s time in Boston. While they made two trades on deadline day in 2021, they didn’t make any in-season trades in any of the four seasons prior to that.

The Celtics took a six-game winning streak heading into deadline day, which was extended to seven following their win over the Nuggets on Friday. Their recent hot streak helped them move up to seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, as their 32-25 record keeps them within striking distance of one of the conference’s top spots.


Like Marks, Lowe is a fan of White. However, he isn’t sure if White’s profile – a strong backcourt defender who’s averaging 14.4 points and 5.5 assists per game – fills the Celtics’ biggest need to help them make a playoff push.

“Derrick White is a good player,” Lowe said. “He’s 27 years old. His Spurs-iness – he moves around a lot, he’s a quick decision-maker, he’s unselfish – is exactly what the Celtics need between (Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown. That’s exactly the player they need. Just keep it moving.

“I just wish he shot it better. I think he’s 31 percent from deep this year and he’s average/below-average for his career. The Celtics are dying, dying for one killer shooter around those guys. And I think he’s got three more years left on his contract that’s got $16, $17 million a pop. As evidenced by the fact that the Celtics traded two draft assets for him, it does have market value. I just don’t think it’s a great contract.

“I think he’s a good player. I think he’ll help the Celtics. Defensively, he’ll make them even better but they’re already elite defensively – I think they’re third or fourth in the league in points allowed per possession. Offensively, maybe his passing, juice, and ball movement will help them out. I just wish he shot it better.


“I’m not sure I would’ve done this trade. Josh Richardson’s been playing well too. … You get some long-term certainty with Derrick White. You get him through his prime, he’s 27 years old. I just wish he could shoot it better. I’m not sure if I would’ve done this trade if I was Boston. Maybe I would have and just said ‘It’s just the 16th pick in the draft and swapped rights, it’s not that big of a deal.’ I’m not overjoyed about it.”

White’s first game in Boston proved to Lowe to be correct about the trade, at least defensively. The Celtics held the Nuggets to just 42 points in the second half of their 108-102 win on Friday.

But White looked sharp on the offensive end, too. He scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-7 shooting from deep, dishing out two assists, and had a game-high plus/minus of +11 in 28 minutes off the bench.

Not only did White play a good deal of minutes after getting cleared to play just moments before tip, he was also part of the Celtics’ crunch-time lineup in Friday’s win. He played alongside Tatum, Brown, Marcus Smart, and Rob Williams. That lineup had a 44.4 net rating (122.2 offensive rating, 77.8 defensive rating) in Friday’s game, making it look like the Celtics might have found the missing piece they’ve been looking for to round out their crunch-time lineup.


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