NBA trade deadline week is here, which means reports and rumors covering a variety of names are popping up all around the league. As the February 19 deadline approaches, the Celtics have been linked to quite a few players, including Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson. Additional potential targets have started to surface in the past 24 hours. Who is reportedly on the Celtics wish list? Sam Smith of NBA.com hears it may be a couple legitimate big men.
The Celtics have been most rumored chasing big men [such as Enes Kanter] and the Bucks are said to be interested as well. Another Celtics’ big man rumor floating around during All-Star weekend has been their pursuit of All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. There is no indication he’s available from the team, but the speculation has been he and George Karl won’t work together and Karl wants to play faster without a low post center. So Boston is rumored to give it a try. Hey, who thought they would get Kevin Garnett?
We’ll start with the bigger name here in Cousins and ask some relevant questions before drawing a conclusion.
Does it make sense for Boston to go after Cousins? You bet. He’s a 24-year-old walking double-double who is locked on a team-friendly contract for the next few seasons. He’s also shown frustration with a dysfunctional franchise in Sacramento.
Do the Celtics have the assets to trade for him? Probably. If Cousins is available, the Kings would demand a high price, likely at least three first-round picks and some promising young pieces. Luckily, the Celtics have both of these assets stockpiled in bulk right now. Should Boston fans get excited about the possibility? Not quite.
Does it make sense for the Kings to trade him? No, and that’s why this rumor is a pipe dream. Cousins is the face of the Kings franchise and that franchise just hired a new experienced head coach in George Karl. Can you envision any scenario where the Kings would give up a 24-year-old All-Star, barring Cousins forcing his way out of town? Even with a huge offer of appealing picks and players, it’s just not happening. Players of his ilk are just too hard to come by.
If Cousins grows frustrated with losing, he may eventually want out of Sacramento, and the Celtics will be waiting with a big offer if that does happen. For now, you can bet Danny Ainge’s inquiries are being rebuffed.
The other name that Smith mentioned in his report, Kanter, is a more realistic possibility for Boston on the surface. The fourth-year center told local media last week that he wished to be traded, after losing playing time to emerging big man Rudy Gobert in the Jazz frontcourt rotation. Despite the fact that Kanter is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, Utah’s front office has still set a high asking price for their seven-footer.
Executives say Utah has significant threshold for Enes Kanter deal – including young player, 1st rounder, etc – but several teams pursuing.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 17, 2015
Kanter is a scoring-minded big man who hits the offensive glass well and posts 13.8 points per game. However, he would not be an answer to Brad Stevens’ desire to have a rim protector in the middle of his defense, as Kanter struggles on that end of the floor. Knowing that the 22-year-old center is set for a big raise in restricted free agency, it’s hard to envision Ainge sacrificing any valuable assets beyond a late first-round pick for Kanter, which likely isn’t enough to entice Utah.
So for now, these targets don’t appear to be realistic possibilities. As the trade deadline approaches, we’ll continue to sort out the legitimate rumors from the idle speculation whenever the Celtics are involved.